Lacinato Kale Salad

Posted by on Feb 20, 2012 in Musings, Recipes | 7 comments

My friend Cathy Whims, chef/owner of Nostrana in Portland, Oregon, served me this Lacinato Kale Salad last Spring when she was generously hosting a dinner and book-signing for The Wild Table at the restaurant.

After a morning of prepping, we sat down to grab a quick bite before getting back to work for the night’s events. This salad showed up, deceptively simple looking. I took one bite and was blown away. The thinly slivered, dark green kale leaves had been dressed with excellent extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, little bits of preserved lemon and a snowstorm of shaved parmeggiano reggiano. That, and some salt and pepper, were the only seasonings, but together they were a revelation. It was instantly addictive. She had to order another round after I scarfed that one down, just so she could have a bite.

I asked Cathy for the recipe, but she gave me a list of ingredients instead. I came home and made it right away, and I have made it now many, many times for friends and clients. With kale almost a year-round item in the produce departments, this is a great salad for every season.

Make sure you buy the best extra virgin olive oil you can find and get real parmeggiano reggiano, preferably a chunk, so you can grate it just before serving. If you don’t have preserved lemons, use finely chopped lemon zest. Also, this kale has many aliases, among them: Lacinato Kale, Dino Kale, Black Kale, Cavolo Nero and Tuscan Kale. All will work. Better yet, plant a few in your garden and you can harvest them for months on end. It’s the simplicity of the ingredients that make this salad, so don’t scrimp on quality. And, while I have given some approximate amounts for the seasonings, this is one case where “season to taste” is the better way to proceed. Find you own sweet spot where it all comes together for your palate.

And, if by some remote chance you happen to have leftovers, this salad is even good the next day, after being refrigerated. The leaves and croutons soften a bit, kind of like a panzanella, but the flavors are still bright and delicious.

Lacinato Kale Salad
(serves 2-4)

1 bunch lacinato kale
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for dressing the salad
¼ of a baguette, trimmed of crust, cut into ¼” cubes (about ½ cup)
1 small preserved lemon
2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¼ – 1/3 cup freshly grated parmeggiano reggiano

Remove the rib from each leaf of kale by cutting along the sides of the rib with a sharp knife. Wash the leaves and spin or pat them dry. Gather 3 or 4 leaves and lay them on top of each other, lengthwise. Roll them up loosely, then slice across the roll to make thin, ¼” slivers of the kale. As you cut them, put them into a large serving bowl.

Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the bread cubes, stirring or tossing to coat evenly with the oil. Cook, tossing or stirring frequently, until the croutons are golden brown, 4-5 minutes. Remove them from the sauté pan to a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt.

Remove the peel from the preserved lemon and discard the insides. Scrape off any remaining white pith. Cut the peel into a small dice, 1/8” inch. Set aside.

To serve, season the kale with salt and pepper. Add lemon juice, 1 tablespoon at a time, to taste. Repeat with the olive oil. Toss lightly together to combine. Mix in the diced preserved lemon peel. Taste again for salt, lemon juice and olive oil. Adjust to taste. Mix in a few tablespoons of the grated cheese, then scatter the rest over the top of the salad. Top with the croutons.



  1. I am definitely going to try this one. I usually cook kale, never thought about it raw unless it was small in mixed greens for salad.

    • I know – I had never had it raw, either. Let me know how it turns out.

  2. I’ve made this one many times, but never with the preserved lemon. What a perfect idea. I use balsamic vinegar usually but I’m going to try this one. Beautiful blog, Chef P.

    • Thanks, Plotnik! I bet the balsamic vinegar version is delicious, too!

  3. This is fabulous! I served it to guests the other night without having tried it first – something I almost never do, but I figured if Sarah liked it, how far wrong could I go? I wound up having to print copies of the recipe for everyone. PS, it takes a confident chef to say, “hey, I got this from somebody else, but you should try it.”

  4. This is my new favorite salad. The first time I made it exactly per the instructions and I found it way too sour for my taste. I added another bunch of kale and a lot more cheese and it was perfect the day it was served and the next day too. I have also made it with 1/2 parmesan/1/2 pecorino romano plus some red pepper flakes. The robustness of the pecorino really complements the kale nicely. Thank you for sharing.

    • I’m so glad you are enjoying this and have tweaked it to your liking. I’ll try the addition of the red pepper flakes – sounds delicious.

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