Crisped cavolo nero winter salad

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I have always thought salads were a meagre territory.  I’d happily dig into one for lunch or a light supper, but the thought of conjuring one up for creative purposes sound banal.  Writing up a recipe for some leaves and cherry tomatoes did not seem like any fun.  

I usually opt for a balance of carbs (white rice, baked potato), some normcore salad veg (tomatoes, cucumber and spinach) with a tad bit of protein (beans) and some kick-ass dressing (various combinations of chilli flakes, lemon juice, soy sauce, tahini, apple cider vinegar and miso paste).  As we descend into the dark days of winter, however, the above formula no longer satisfy me; I am longing for something a little more filling and seasonal, yet refreshingly light and simple.

Have you ever notice that winter salads tend to be quite laborious?  They’re usually served warm and/or with a helping of cheese.  Both of which are a no-go for me these days.

My cavolo nero adventures continue as I take inspiration from the classic Waldorf salad to give an autumn/winter fuel fit for lunchboxes.  This is definitely perfect for those feeling festive – whether you’re thinking about a quick side dish for Christmas parties or a New Year detox feast after all the good, bad and ugly has been consumed this December.

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I suggest that you mix the dressing with the salad straight away – as the flavours diffuse into something quite extraordinary.  The crisped cavolo nero, will, of course, no longer be that crunchy; it retains its crisp texture well to some degree, however, locking in the nutritional yeast/fruit juice dressing in its various curls and folds.

Swap with ‘regular’ kale, if preferred/options are limited.

Crisped cavolo nero winter salad

Makes serving for 1 (as a main); 2 if a side dish

Ingredients.

1 conference pear

3-4 leaves cavolo nero

1 tsp garlic-infused oil

juice of 1 lemon

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

Method:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to Gas Mark 2/ 150 C (electric) / 130 C (fan).
  2. Blanch the cavolo nero leaves for 1 minute.  Chop once easier to handle.
  3. Mix the cavolo nero pieces with the garlic-infused oil and season well with rock salt (preferably) and pepper.  Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until crispy.  Turn half-way through cooking, and using a slotted spoon to mix the leaves as to not stick on the pan.
  4. Chop the pear into bite-sized squares.  Squeeze half of the lemon juice all over the pear.
  5. Once the cavolo nero has crisped up: leave to cool/air-dry for 15 minutes.
  6. In a bowl, mix the pear, walnuts and the rest of the lemon juice together.  Stir in the crisped kale.
  7. Add a heaped tablespoon of nutritional yeast (“noosh”).  Mix well until some of the noosh has been dissolved by the lemon juice.
  8. Season, if desired, and serve.

This recipe has been one of my favourites since testing it in November.  It’s very straight-forward, and one of the rarer salads which taste so good after a few hours of resting the dressing-soaked kale in a box – yet there are no soggy leaves in sight.

Have you got any cavolo nero salad recipes to share?

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