Thursday, February 10, 2011

Kale Salad with Pecans and Ricotta

My best friend Erika's New Year's resolution was to become a better cook.  Boy, have I been reaping the benefits of that!  I have a sous chef whenever I need one and she has been mustering up all sorts of creative things as she gets her feet wet in the kitchen.  Her latest concoction was an amazing kale salad.  Not only was it delicious but I loved the idea of using raw kale as a substitute for lettuce.  During this time of year I can not get enough kale.  However, preparing it raw is even more exciting than all the sautéing and braising I've been doing.  I took the idea and ran with it.  Since the original kale salad, we have prepared a few-but this one tops my list.
Aside from being delicious, this recipe is super easy and can be made in under 10 minutes!  You can portion it into smaller servings and have it for multiple meals during the week.  I used ricotta salata for this recipe because I love its dry, salty texture.  Normal ricotta cheese is not firm enough but any other crumbly cheese, such as feta, would work just as well.

Kale Salad with Pecans and Ricotta
1 bunch of fresh kale
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup crumbled ricotta salata
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Clean and dry the kale.  Chop into thin pieces and place into a large bowl.  Add the chopped pecans.  Use a knife to crumble the ricotta salata and add it to the salad as well.  Add the olive oil and lemon juice and toss well to coat.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Allow the salad to sit for about 10 minutes, tossing once or twice to let the flavors mix.  Serve and enjoy :)

What makes this bite better?
Any time you can enjoy a vegetable in its raw form, the more nutrient dense it is sure to be.  Kale is very high in nutrients, particularly Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin K and it is also known to have antioxidant and anti inflammatory properties.  There is much debate about which cooking methods preserves these beneficial components, but if we are eating it raw we can be sure that we are reaping all the health benefits its has to offer.  Chomp away!

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