food

My Favorite Salad. Ever. For Now.

Asking me to pick a favorite salad is like asking me to pick a favorite song.  I'll start asking qualifiers like, "What style?" "From what era?" and "With what components?"  There are too many greats to narrow it down to just one.

Here's one, though, that's been at the top of my list for about a year now.  It has the right mix of different textures and rich components of nuts and cheese balanced by a good citrus punch.

This post was prompted by the above photo I posted to Instagram that has since garnered this question from several friends: "What do you do with all those greens?"

Since the photo shows the amount of greens we harvest about thrice weekly, this is a good question.  The short answer is that we never tire of our spinach, swiss chard, lacinto kale, arugula, and mixed greens and that we are never at a loss for how to use them up.

Our green smoothies make quick work of almost all of the spinach, while any excess is immediately turned into this flawless recipe from Julia Child via smitten kitchen.  Our favorite way to eat arugula is simply dressed with lemon and olive oil and sprinkled with salt, pepper, and a bit of parmesan, just like it's done at one of our favorite restaurants.  

This Japanese-inspired kale salad from Saveur has been rocking my world.  (Side note: I'm not sure if it's okay to use that phrase in the current decade, but I just did.  I also have a nose ring, which I've recently been informed is so 2004.  I can glimpse my daughter's future embarrassment.) The chard and collards are well suited to a sauté with bacon, onion, and garlic, served alongside pan-fried pork chops, any number of grilled meats, or, as pictured below, red beans and rice and cornbread with honey butter.

It's this salad, though, that's really been doing it for me.

Brussels sprouts and greens are the stars of this crunchy, fresh, delightful salad.  While the source material uses kale, we've really been digging collards here, though any of the hardy greens will work beautifully.  Other elements are adaptable, as well; any number of hard cheeses will work in place of the parmesan and you should feel free to use sliced almonds or chopped walnuts instead of the pine nuts.  Most of the steps are done in a food processor, making this a really quick dish.  I always make a boatload because it lasts for days in the fridge, travels well, and makes a welcome addition to any weekday lunch.

Salad of Brussels Sprouts and Greens

adapted from Farmhouse Rules

serves 8

  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 4 oz. Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 1 1/4 lbs brussels sprouts (about 3 cups)
  • 1 large bunch collard greens, tough stems discarded
  • zest and juice of three lemons
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 350.  Spread the pine nuts evenly on a sheet pan or pie plate.  Roast for 7-10 minutes, until faintly golden and fragrant.  Set aside to cool.

Cut the cheese into small chunks and place in a food processor fitted with the steel blade.  Process for about a minute, until you are left with a fine grind.  There's no need to wash the food processor before the next step; just switch to the slicer blade.  Thinly slice the brussels sprouts and collards using the food processor fitted with the slicer blade.

In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients with the pine nuts and cheese and whisk thoroughly to combine.  Stir in the brussels sprouts and collards and season to taste.  Serve chilled or at room temperature.