Kale Salad with Grilled Goat Cheese, Bacon and Walnuts (Salade de Chèvre Chaud aux Lardons)


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.

Ingredients


For 2 servings

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

Preparation

Preheat the broiler.


Fry the bacon in a dry non-stock frying pan over medium heat.


Meanwhile, remove the tough stems from the kale and shred.


Gather all the shredded kale in a big bowl.


Add 1 tsp salt and massage for 2 minutes until the kale is tender (perhaps I should have massaged it longer, as the Dutch kale was still not as tender as the American kale I had a few weeks ago).


Quite a bit of fat will be rendered from the bacon. Take out the bacon strips with a slotted spoon when they are nicely golden brown and set aside.


It would be a shame to discard the very tasty bacon fat, so we won’t do that.


Start making the vinaigrette by filtring the bacon fat into a small bowl. This should yield about 1 Tbsp of bacon fat.


Add 4 Tbsp olive oil (for a total of 5 Tbsp of bacon fat and olive oil combined), plus 2 Tbsp vinegar, 1 tsp mustard and freshly ground black pepper.


Beat with a fork to emulsify, thus obtaining your vinaigrette. (You can also put the ingredients in a cleaned jam jar. Close the jar by screwing on the lid, and shake well to emulsify.)


Add the vinaigrette to the kale and toss to mix.


Arrange goat cheese on sliced bread and toast for a few minutes at about 10-15 cm (4-6″) from the heating elements.


Arrange the kale on plates, top with bacon, walnuts, and tomatoes, and serve with the hot goat cheese.

Wine pairing

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.

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10 thoughts on “Kale Salad with Grilled Goat Cheese, Bacon and Walnuts (Salade de Chèvre Chaud aux Lardons)

  1. A kale salad! I love it. 🙂 Was the kale you had here lacinato (also called dinosaur) kale? If so you may just have to grow it yourself next year. 🙂 I am going to have to make my next kale salad with walnuts and chèvre croutons–genius!

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    1. I don’t remember the kale I had in the US having a name. I just checked the photo of your ‘massaged’ kale again, and think I may have to do some more massaging. I have some (actually, quite a bit) of the kale left, so I’m going to give that a try and will report back.

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      1. Oh good, do try it! It’s great with the curly kale we get here, which looks like the kale in your picture. I think that I massage mine until its reduced by more than half, if that helps. 🙂

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  2. Funny thing. Just last night I enjoyed une salade de chevre chaud at a local bistro. I came to the kale party rather late in life and have only prepared it sautéed. I need to remedy that. If this salad is anything like the one I had last night, it will be delicious.

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  3. Looks great and the flavor combination is fabulous. I’d eat this and serve it to guests. Sorry it was still tough. Have you ever tried massaging it with oil instead of the salt? I have also heard that massaging it with avocado does wonders with it.

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    1. I’d definitely serve it to guests with American tender kale.
      Massaging with oil or avocado sounds interesting but perhaps slightly messy.
      What I’ll try first is massaging it a bit longer. I might have been a bit lazy…

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