After harvesting a bushel of dinosaur (lacinato/Tuscan) kale, the last thing I wanted to do was cook it and take away its deep green splendor. One of the assets of this variety of kale is its tenderness, so why not shred it and serve it raw. Voila! The above marinated rice and kale salad is the result, and it has become this summer’s favorite dish in my household.
Dinosaur, lacinato, or Tuscan kale is a cultivar that derives its name from the puckered texture of its leaves. In addition to that quality, its leaves are thinner and, therefore, more tender. Just a dowsing of vinaigrette on the raw kale will tenderize it enough to make it supple yet still slightly crisp.
I like to create shreds rather than tear the kale in to pieces. To do so, I rip the leaves away from the stems and discard the stems. I then pile about 4 or 5 leaves on top of each other and roll them tightly into a cigar shape. Using a large chef’s knife I thinly slice the “cigar.” When the whole cigar is sliced, I use my fingers to separate all the shreds or chiffonade.
My favorite rice for this salad is jasmine; however, brown rice works well also. I add chickpeas, green peas, and red onion slivers, but you can easily play around with the additions and include red pepper slivers, corn, and sauteed mushrooms with success. The only essentials are the kale,cold cooked rice, and a garlicky vinaigrette.
This recipe makes a generous amount, but I guarantee that you’ll want to take leftovers to work or serve them for an easy lunch, so don’t shy away from making the full recipe.
Serves 4 as a main course
6 cups cold cooked rice, jasmine or brown rice preferred
6 cups thinly shredded kale, preferably dinosaur/Tuscan/lacinato kale
1 16-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and well drained
1 cup frozen peas, thawed (or thinly sliced red bell pepper)
1/2 cup red onion slivers
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, put through a press
1/2 teaspoon salt
Generous seasoning freshly ground pepper
1. Combine the rice, shredded kale (see above directions), chickpeas, peas, and red onion in a very large bowl.
2. Combine the dressing ingredients in a jar with a tight lid and shake vigorously. Pour all over the salad and toss well. Wait a few minutes before serving so the kale can absorb the dressing, or cover and chill and serve within 24 hours.