I had a load of Tuscan aka lacinato aka dinosaur kale to deal with. At only $3 for about two-and-a-half pounds at my local farmers market, this monster bunch was hard to pass up. Of course it also meant that I had at least two-and-a-half pounds of kale to wash, dry and prepare.
I really dislike breaking down kale.
I can’t be the only one who feels this way. Search Google for “kale recipes” and there are over 12 million results. That’s a lot of opportunities for people to get pissed off at kale.
As delicious, healthy and inexpensive (at the moment) this vegetable is, it can be a pain in the ass to deal with.
I have yet to figure out the best way of washing it, so my current method is to rinse each leaf individually under running water and then place the leaves in a colander to drain. If I have time I’ll lay the leaves on paper towels to air dry; they repel water and dry pretty quickly. Otherwise, I’ll cut the leaves before washing or drying them so they will fit in the salad spinner. I’m sure this method is deeply offensive to certain populations.
Then there is the task of removing the tough rib that runs the length of the leaf. In smaller leaves I usually let it be and just chew chew chew through it. However, this truly was dinosaur kale, with the ribs to match.
So I wondered, would the task be less odious if I dusted off my pizza cutter to do the de-ribbing?
It was quite effective at removing the gnarled ends. One pass with the pizza cutter was all it took to lop them off.
Removing the rib itself was a little trickier. I had to make sure the blade was right up against the rib and then roll firmly and quickly up the leaf. A couple times the blade strayed from its course and cut through the rib. But once I got the hang of it I was zipping out kale ribs as quickly as a fisherman gutting sea bass. I’d say I saved a minute or two on the whole process by using a pizza cutter.
Sure, a knife would have accomplished this, but there was something satisfying, perhaps even primal, about eviscerating a massive pile of kale with a large and terrifyingly sharp, circular blade. Plus I found another use for this kitchen tool.
So if you happen to have a pizza cutter and an unwieldy bunch of kale, give it a try. The worst thing that can happen is that you’ll end up with kale shreds, which is perfect for making Smoky Kale Salad.
Smoky Kale Salad for One
- 2-3 cups of Tuscan kale, ribs removed and thinly sliced. To ease this process, after removing the ribs I stack leaves on top of each other, roll up and then thinly slice.
- 1/3 cup garbanzo beans
- 1 handful of olives, or however many you want to use
- 1-2 radishes, thinly sliced
- 1/2 baguette, or whatever you have on hand
- 1 garlic clove, sliced in half
- olive oil, to taste
- smoked paprika, to taste
- salt, to taste
- 1/2 cup tahini, aka sesame paste
- 1/4 cup lemon juice (about one lemon)
- 1/4 cup water, or a little more or less, depending on how thick you like your dressing
- 1/2 – 1 tsp smoked paprika, depending on how spicy/smoky you like your dressing
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cut baguette in half lengthwise. Rub garlic clove over all sides of the bread. Cut bread into half-inch cubes and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle smoked paprika over bread (about a teaspoon if using half a baguette), then drizzle with olive oil. Finish with a good shake of salt. Mix everything to ensure the bread is well coated and then place in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Croutons will be lightly browned and crispy when done.
- Whisk tahini and lemon juice in a small bowl. Tahini is very thick so it will take a couple of minutes for the mixture to come together. Whisk in the water and then the paprika. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Place all salad ingredients in a bowl, add dressing and toss together. Add croutons and serve!