I remember being surprised when I read about kale salad for the first time on Emmy Cooks, since kale is usually eaten cooked in the Netherlands with mashed potatoes and smoked pork sausage (boerenkool met worst). Fresh kale is also mostly available in winter, not the best season for eating salads. When I was travelling in the USA, I found kale to be used for salads everywhere and even made my own ‘Trail Mix’ version of Emmy’s kale salad a few times. Since it is unseasonally warm at the moment and therefore suitable weather for a salad and I saw a nice head of kale at the market, I decided to see if the Dutch variety of kale is also suitable for kalad. Turns out it isn’t really; even though I used to top, youngest, leaves they were quite a bit tougher than the kale we had in the USA. It wasn’t bad, but I don’t think this is something I’d serve to guests.
The salad itself was inspired by a salad we had in Sancerre last week. Sancerre is a nice town on top of a hill in central France, home of the famous Sancerre wines. The whites, made from sauvingnon blanc, are best known, but also the reds and rosés, made from pinot noir, are excellent. We’ve been coming to Sancerre to taste and buy wine directly from local producers for years now. Back to the salad. Goat cheese is often served as chèvre chaud in France, goat cheese on bread toasted in the oven. This is often accompanied by a salad with curly lettuce (frisée), bacon strips (lardons), and walnuts (noix), and is served with vinaigrette. I thought this would work well with kale instead of curly lettuce, and it did. Here’s how to make it. If you can’t find young tender kale suitable for salad, please feel free to substitute with curly lettuce or other lettuce that is slightly bitter.
450 grams (1 pound) fresh kale leaves (substitute with slightly bitter lettuce)
150 grams (6 oz) French goat cheese
250 grams (1/2 pound) smoked bacon, in strips
handful of walnuts, roughly chopped
2-4 tomatoes, cut into wedges
4 slices French bread
1 tsp salt
For the vinaigrette
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the broiler.
It will not come as a surprise that this pairs excellently with a white sancerre or pouilly fumé. Another dry sauvignon blanc may also work, but that is hard to say as there are so many different styles.