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Not just a cool-season crop: Kale in summer

Kale, Heirloom, 'Lacinato'_3678Last weekend I found a tasty, cool solution to my latest vegetable quandary: how to eat kale (Brassica oleracea) in the summer. These are the Epicurious reviews and photo that convinced me to use my first kale harvest in a salad rather than play it safe and make a classic kale and potato soup, which, despite its flavour and nutrition, doesn't appeal to me on a sunny June day when I don't want to ingest anything warmer than I am.

The recipe


Lacinato Kale and Ricotta Salata Salad (Source)

"Inspired by an antipasto that's popular at New York City's Lupa, this substantial salad takes a hearty, rich green that's usually cooked and proves how delicious it can be when served raw."

Yield: Makes 6 servings       active time: 25 min       total time: 25 min


3/4 to 1 pound [340 to 454 grams] lacinato kale (also called Tuscan kale) or tender regular kale, stems and center ribs discarded
2 tablespoons [30 mL] finely chopped shallot
1 1/2 tablespoons [25 mL] fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon [1 mL] salt {note: I don't think the extra salt is needed. I find the cheese salty enough}
1/4 teaspoon [1 mL] black pepper
4 1/2 tablespoons [70 mL] extra-virgin olive oil
2 ounces [60 g] or 1 cup [250 mL] coarsely grated ricotta salata


  1. Working in batches, cut kale crosswise into very thin slices. {I used scissors. After I established a technique and rhythm, it became a pleasant, relaxing task carried out in early morning sunshine & quiet on the balcony}
  2. Whisk together shallot, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl, then add oil in a slow stream, whisking until combined well.
  3. Toss kale and ricotta salata in a large bowl with enough dressing to coat well, then season with salt and pepper. {I suggest just enough dressing to coat lightly and omit the salt}.

The ingredients in my version

I'll be the first to admit my salad photo is not as pretty or professional as this Gourmet image but I'm pretty sure my version was as fresh and flavourful -- credit to good seeds, compost-enriched soil and the kindness of Mother Nature who showed a mostly sunny face from early May through mid-June. 

IMG_3808 Greens: Italian Heirloom Kale, 'Lacinato'
Description & nutrition information (PDF)
Ricotta Salata_3748Cheese: Ricotta Salata
Description & nutrition information (PDF)
IMG_3735Extra virgin olive oil & lemon


IMG_3830Kale ribbons & grated cheese, "undressed"



A variation on the original Gourmet recipe, served with sliced cucumbers.


My rating: 3.5 out of 4 forks (using the Epicurious rating system). The cheese was a bit salty for my palate. I'll make the recipe again, but use ricotta, though it will give a different texture. I'd also like to try some of the reviewers' suggestions such as serving the salad on crostini and other breads and crackers or adding grated carrots, hard boiled eggs & sunflower seeds and putting it over brown rice to make a one-dish supper. I think finely sliced kale, grated cheese and other finely grated and minced veggies would be a tasty filling in a rice-paper roll.


Recommended reading

From the blog 365 Days of Kale:

Eat the seasons|kale

New York Times Recipes for Health: Kale


I'm looking forward to your comments about this natural super-food and ways of enjoying it in any season.

Reader Comments (9)

Two summer-friendly kale recipes that I like are found on these 2 pages:

Kale Chips: http://www.katheats.com/?page_id=2544

Emerald City Salad (video and recipe): http://www.cookusinterruptus.com/index.php?video_id=34

June 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKristie

What a lovely recipe Elaine. I don't think I've ever eaten kale raw, but this looks like exactly the kind of thing I'd make. While reading your recipe I was also thinking it would be lovely with baked ricotta - would give you a bit more texture than fresh, without the saltiness of the salata?

I'm still fairly new to kale, so have been pretty boring with it to date - mainly using in winter, to cook ribollita. My local veg store has cavalo nero, which is also called Tuscan kale, but it doesn't look anything like the lucinato you've used above. But I might try it out anyway.

Your kale plant looks like it's flourishing!

June 21, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkathryn

Hi Kristie. Thanks for sharing both these recipes. They sound delicious. Truly healthy chips -- love it.

Hi Kathryn. I thought of you while I made this recipe because I know you love ricotta. Because this was my first time making the recipe, I didn't want to make any substitutions, but next time I will try plain ricotta instead of the salata. "Ribolitta" is a new-to-me term -- I just now googled it so learned it is a type of Italian soup. 'll have to make ribolitta with my fall kale.

June 22, 2009 | Registered CommenterElaine

I really enjoy kale this way...the lemon breaks down the sturdy leaves just enough to make them enjoyable :-) I often use curly green kale with lemon, avocado and cayenne pepper. Mix with your hangs to squeeze and break down the greens while mixing the lemon and creating a creamy coating from the avocado. Delicious!

Love that image of light falling through the olive oil bottle.

Those rythmns of thinning, slicing (or - you're very clever - cutting with scissors) are so much more fun when the produce is your own.

I have young kale leaves a-plenty, but no ricotta salata. I've never seen it here, though I have read about it extensively. Looks divine, Elaine. Lovely visual story to your salad.

June 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLucy

@Michelle What in interesting combination of ingredients. I'll have to try this with my next crop.

@Lucy You understand -- you must be a gardener too ;-). And of course I know you are plus the most amazing photographer and writer.

As for ricotta salata, well, I prefer the flavour of plain ricotta but r. salata has the perfect texture for grating so it's ideal for a salad.

June 30, 2009 | Registered CommenterElaine

Your beautiful photos are making my mouth water in anticipation of supper, which certainly will contain some of our own raw kale leaves grown right outside our back door. Thanks for showing how kale should be "more than decoration on your plate"!

July 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDiana Dyer, MS, RD

Hi Elaine,
Back again and inspired to make this dish for company coming this weekend. I can't wait - I'll probably make plenty so I can sample it even before they come!

August 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDiana Dyer

I hope you and your company enjoy it. If any one has ever doubted that raw kale can be delicious, I think this recipe will change their mind.

August 25, 2009 | Registered CommenterElaine

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