kale and quinoa salad with ricotta salata

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Kale and Quinoa Salad with Ricotta Salata
Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook and The Smith

When I first had this salad at The Smith, I couldn’t figure out why it was so familiar and I’m really not proud of the fact that I’d had it three times before I remembered: my cookbook! Right, that old thing. In the book, I tried to teach myself, a kale resistor, to be a kale lover and I did so by taking it back to the 1990s, when restaurants discovered that if you add dried fruit, toasted nuts, a crumbly salty cheese and a honey-and-dijon vinaigrette to any previously unappetizing pile of salad greens, it will taste delicious. Here, the dried fruit is dried cherries (but The Smith uses dried cranberries), the toasted nuts are almonds, the honey-Dijon is barely sweet and uses coarse Dijon as well. From The Smith I learned to add a little snippet of dill, a touch of grated lemon zest and cooked, cooled quinoa to make the salad that I’m literally counting down the minutes to lunch so that I can have it again.

Yield: 2 to 3 quite large meal salads or 4 to 5 side salads; salad will wilt a bit and seem smaller the longer it sits with the dressing

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa (or 1 1/2 cups cooked)
8 ounces Black Kale, also known as Cavolo Nero, or Lacinato, Dinosaur, or Tuscan Kale
1/2 cup slivered almonds, very well toasted and cooled
1/3 cup dried cherries, chopped a bit
2 to 3 scallions, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
2 ounces ricotta salata, crumbled or finely grated
Few gratings of fresh lemon zest

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons smooth Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon coarse Dijon mustard
Just shy of 1 teaspoon honey
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Rinse quinoa well in a small colander. This is essential to remove bitterness. Place quinoa and 1 1/2 cups water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer with a couple pinches of salt. Simmer at a very low temperature for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender. Drain any un-absorbed liquid from cooked quinoa. Spread quinoa on a plate to cool quickly.

Wash your kale and dry it well. Then, with a knife, remove the rib from each stalk, leaving long strips of kale leaves. Stack the leaves in small batches, roll them tightly the long way, and cut the roll crosswise into thin ribbons. Add the kale ribbons to a large salad bowl. Add remaining salad ingredients to kale and toss to mix.

Whisk dressing ingredients together in a small dish, and pour the dressing over the salad. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then dig in.

kale and quinoa salad with ricotta salata was originally published on smittenkitchen.com

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