Lemon Zested Kale Salad with Pecorino Cheese

I think kale is the quintessential vegetable that leads people to associate it with an organic lifestyle…. if that means meditating, chanting, vegetarianism- it’s just all healthy and environmentally friendly. Probably every vegetarian organic restaurant I have ever been to features kale on the menu- and it’s no wonder, as it has a strong dose of anti oxidants which has anti cancer properties.

Usually I eat kale steamed with potatoes and create a curry dish tossing some spices and onions together in the pan. However, this past week, my CSA delivered tender kale greens which forms the perfect background layer to this intense salad that is combined with the strong flavored ingredients of dry-roasted slivered  almonds, red pepper flakes, and a simple lemon with olive oil dressing. This has become one of my FAVORITE salads because it has all the things I love in a salad- crunch, cheese and mostly satisfying.

The salad calls for just a handful of ingredients, but they all deliver. Simple, but special- just use fresh and the best. It’s a salad I throw together for a light dinner, but also something I can make for friends or family when they come over on the spur.

This recipe has been inspired by Melissa Clark’s In The Kitchen with a Good Appetite


1 bunch Tuscan kale
1/2 garlic clove or 1 garlic scape
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus a pinch
1/4 cup (or small handful) grated pecorino cheese, plus additional for garnish
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for garnish
Freshly squeezed juice of one lemon
1/2 toasted slivered almonds
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Trim the bottom few inches off the kale stems and discard. Slice the kale into 3/4-inch ribbons. You should have 4 to 5 cups. Place the kale in a large bowl.
  2. Using a mortar and pestle or a knife, pound or mince the garlic or garlic scape and 1/4 teaspoon of salt into a paste. Transfer the garlic to a small bowl. Add 1/4 cup cheese, 3 tablespoons oil, lemon juice, pinch of salt, pepper flakes, and black pepper and whisk to combine. Pour the dressing over the kale and toss very well (the dressing will be thick and need lots of tossing to coat the leaves). Let the salad sit for 5 minutes, then serve topped with the toasted slivered almonds, additional cheese, and a drizzle of oil.

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