I’m never going to sleep again. First it was Lovecraft–now it’s Mermaids: The New Evidence. There’s something disturbing about pseudo documentaries, especially when they come at you in a marathon. The tone, the farce carried on for so long, just the thought that there are things down there we don’t know about. It’s creepy.
Don’t ask me why I watched a marathon of Mermaids: The New Evidence. Blame it on the fact that I can do a lot of my work on the laptop at this point, and my “work” that evening involved making white wine sangrias for the Roomz II.
And so is everyone else. Kale isn’t quitting. Even when it’s not even in season it’s all over the place. I bought it this week because I was almost duped into buying ramps, these very seasonal (we’re talking days) leek-y, onion-y sprouts that are the stuff of culinary myth, for $19.98 per pound!!! Are you mad? I had to quickly shake out my produce bag and stuff it with the adjacent kale.
When I got home–what to do? It’s spring, no one wants another steamy sauté. A friend told me a while ago about massaging kale to tenderize it for salads. At the time, I thought she was joking: “Yeah, it kind of makes your hands smell like salad dressing for a while.”
Well, people actually do this–massage kale with their hands–and I’m now one of those people. The trick is to slice it as thinly as possible, almost like a slaw, cover it in dressing, and crush it with your hands quite a bit. Almost the motion you would use to cut butter into a dough. Toss it with toasted hazelnuts and some chewy pearl couscous and you’ve got a party dish. Add an egg and some crusty toast and you’ve got lunch.
Kale Salad with Pearl Couscous and Hazelnuts
Serves 4-8 as a side dish or 2-4 as a main dish
1 bunch kale
½ cup pearl couscous
⅓ cup hazelnuts
Manchego or other hard sheep’s milk cheese for garnish
⅓ cup lemon juice
⅓ cup good olive oil
½ teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey or agave nectar
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
1. Prepare couscous according to package directions. (If couscous is not pre-toasted, toast in a dry skillet on high, tossing frequently until slightly browned and fragrant.) Drain and rinse. Let cool.
2. Prepare kale: wash, remove ribs, and slice very thinly.
3. Toast hazelnuts until skins crack. Cool slightly on cutting board, then rub together to remove skins. Roughly chop hazelnuts.
4. Prepare vinaigrette: Whisk all ingredients together except the olive oil and salt and pepper. Then whisk in the olive oil, pouring slowly. Oil should fully incorporate. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Add kale to vinaigrette. Mash/massage with your hands until slightly wilted. Set aside until kale has reached desired texture (I waited about 15 minutes). Add nuts and couscous. Toss. Top with shaved cheese.
6. Serve as is or top with a fried or poached egg and serve with toasted bread, olive oil, and balsamic.