I have been very reluctant to jump on the kale bandwagon, which seems to have exploded in my part of the world in recent times. Evangelists of green shakes full of pureed kale and other greens are everywhere, but I have failed to be compelled by their vocal praises of kale. However, after trying it a number of times in other ways, I have decided this ancient green is really delicious and I want to try to cook with it more. I won’t bore you with information about its nutritional qualities, except to say it is really good for you. I was interested to discover that it was one of the most common green vegetables is Europe up to the end of the Middle Ages, and some cousins of kale, like the Italian cavolo nero, have been known and cultivated since 600 BC. My friend Toss makes a kale and quinoa salad, so I have her to thank for the genesis of this recipe. I thought I would mix it up a bit and use farro, my current favourite grain. If you can’t get farro, brown rice is nearly as good. The salad is nutty and chewy and has a little sweetness from red grapes and crunch from the fresh kale and almonds, plus sharpness from the simple lemon dressing. I eat it on its own for lunch, as it is filling and oh, so tasty, but it also goes really well with all sorts of grilled meat and fish for dinner.
Serves 8 – 12
1 bunch curly leafed kale
2 cups red seedless grapes, cut into halves
1 cup roasted almonds, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Bring 1 L of lightly salted water to the boil in a medium sized saucepan. Add the farro and boil for 20 – 25 minutes, stirring frequently, until the farro is cooked, but still retains some resistance. Add the olive oil and butter, stir through, and cover the saucepan for 5 minutes. All the liquid should be absorbed.
Meanwhile, finely slice the kale, halve the grapes, and chop the almonds. Take the lid off the farro and let it cool a little. Make up the dressing by combining all the ingredients in a small jar with a tight lid, and then shaking vigorously. In a large bowl, combine the kale, farro, grapes, almonds and dressing and toss well. Turn onto a serving platter and serve straight away. If you want to make the salad a little ahead of time, it works well. Just toss through the dressing as you are serving the salad.