Friday, July 13th, 2012...3:14 pm
My New Favourite Salad
A couple of months ago, one of my friends X, invited a bunch of us over for a pot luck at hers. She made a broccoli pasta, T roasted a chicken, E brought drinks and C brought fruit from her magic fruit stall, which left me with the salad and dessert. Not wanting to bring just any old salad, I had a poke around one of my favouritest sites in the world, Serious Eats, where I found this really interesting sounding recipe for a Kale, Apple and Pancetta Salad.
Interesting mainly because I don’t normally think of kale as a salad vegetable. It’s a pretty hardy leaf that – unlike quite a lot of other salad leaves – can withstand a good amount of heat (think deep-frying, braising, or roasting) without turning into an unidentifiable grey mush, and I’d never thought to try it raw. This salad, though, combines another slightly bitter and vaguely spicy leaf (radicchio), tart green apples, sweetness in the dressing from maple syrup, toasted pecans, and that rich saltiness from the crispy pancetta bits and its rendered fat.
Because it comes together almost like a chopped salad, and nothing needs to be taken apart or carefully stacked onto the tines of your fork, it works fantastically at a dinner party, or as a one bowl TV dinner. Combining it with various other elements from that dinner party, I’ve now adapted it slightly, tossing in shredded bits of leftover roast chicken (or you could buy a leg from the rotisserie) which filled us all up nicely for dinner on Tuesday night. Tossing in some pasta shells (or perhaps the leftovers from a pasta bake like this would also work great, but in that case I probably wouldn’t bother with the chicken.) Being a fan of the sesame oil and sherry vinegar combination, and not having any champagne vinegar on hand, I’ve also modified the dressing slightly. I got such rave reviews that night, I’m a little hesitant to bother trying the original version now even though I’ve finally got my hands on some champagne vinegar. :)
Warm Kale and Pancetta Salad
Adapted from this Serious Eats recipe
20ml (4 tbsp) olive oil
100g pancetta, cut into thick lardons or diced
50-60ml sesame oil
50ml sherry vinegar
50ml pure maple syrup
freshly ground black pepper
200g radicchio (1 small head), core discarded, leaves shredded
200g kale (around 8-10 leaves), stems discarded, leaves shredded
2 Granny Smith apples, sliced into thick matchsticks
100g pecans, toasted
shredded meat from about half a roast chicken, optional
Heat the olive oil in a heavy based saucepan over medium-low heat, and add the pancetta. Allow to cook slowly, rendering the fat from the pancetta, until it crisps up. Place a sieve over a measuring bowl, and drain the oil from the pancetta, reserving oil. Set pancetta aside.
Add enough sesame oil to the rendered fat and olive oil mixture so you have a total of about 120ml of fat. Whisk in the sherry vinegar, maple syrup, and a pinch of salt and pepper. (Don’t add too much salt, as the fat from the pancetta will also be quite salty.) Set aside.
Wash and spin all the leaves well, making sure – as with all salads – that the leaves are very dry. In a large mixing bowl, toss the leaves with the apple matchsticks and dress with the reserved dressing. Toss in the pecans and shredded chicken (if using), then serve immediately.
Yield: Serves 4 as a main, or 8-10 as a side.