Recipe: Shades of Kale

Former garnish veggie now sits atop Jeff Baldwin’s ‘most requested’ salad list


Published:

Photographs by Joe Vaughn

“Early in my career,” says chef/proprietor Jeff Baldwin of J. Baldwin’s Restaurant in Clinton Township, “my first experience in the ’80s and ’90s using kale was strictly for garnish of plates and salad bars. People didn’t consume it.” It’s a different story now. “Kale is known as a super food high in nutrients and is one of our top requested salads,” he says. “Antioxidant-rich kale is even better for you when eaten raw. Thin strips are softened in a light balsamic dressing then garnished with balsamic reduction. A little pecorino goes a long way in giving this salad a depth of flavor.” He recommends serving the salad with grilled chicken breast or seafood, “and you have one of the healthiest meals you can eat.” — Molly Abraham


Kale salad 

(Serves 6-8)

Balsamic Dressing

4 tablespoons whole-grain Dijon mustard
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Reduction Ingredients

¾ cup balsamic vinegar

¼ cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 4 tablespoons cold water 

Salad Ingredients

2 bunches kale, ribs removed and thinly sliced

¼ cup golden raisins soaked in white wine

¼ cup toasted pine nuts

¾ cup cooked farro

¼ cup pecorino cheese

2 radishes, sliced thin on a mandolin

Directions

To make the dressing, whisk together mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, thyme, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add kale and toss to coat. Let stand 10 minutes. 

To make the reduction, mix vinegar, brown sugar, and honey in a small pot over medium heat. Reduce by half. Stir in cornstarch mixture and reserve. 

Add raisins, pine nuts, and cooked farro to kale and toss. 

Assembly

Spoon the balsamic glaze in a spiral swirl on the plates and top with the salad. Finish with the cheese and sliced radishes. For a fun presentation, fill a 3-inch ring mold, pack down, and unmold on plates.

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