Bon Appétit (September 2012)
What's the best dish you've eaten so far this year?
Maybe it was something you had in a restaurant. Or maybe you made it yourself.
Regardless, we would go out on a limb and bet that it wasn't a kale salad. But in Bon Appétit's September issue, which is devoted to showcasing restaurants around the country, restaurant editor Andrew Knowlton declares this Crispy Kale Salad with Lime Dressing the magazine's "Dish of the Year."
Can a kale salad possibly live up to that title? We had to find out.
This kale salad has three main components:
- A dressing that's made from lime juice, sugar, fish sauce, garlic and a hot chile. It's a nice dressing and a welcome diversion from the oil-and-vinegar concoctions we whip up on the fly. The fish sauce, especially, is a twist that takes the salad in a delicious new direction.
- Roasted kale leaves that have nicely crisped in the oven. If you've eaten or made roasted kale chips, it's essentially the same thing.
- Raw ingredients, including your choice of herbs (we chose mint and basil), shaved vegetables (we used golden beets, radishes and cucumber), and greens (we used arugula and kale). They're....raw vegetables. Our golden beets were especially great, but then again we're suckers for golden beets.
Combined, these three components make for a perfectly good salad. The crispy kale is a nice contrast to the raw ingredients. And the dressing is a nice compliment to both. The three together? Maybe even a great salad.
But is it the dish of the year?
Good grief we hope not.
You can read Knowlton's reasons for choosing the kale salad at BonAppetit.com, in his write-up about the chefs at the Battersby restaurant in Brooklyn. In short:
"This duo took a dish that's been everywhere this year and transformed it into the dish of the year."
We agree that kale salads have become ubiquitous (for evidence, just Google "kale is having a moment"). And maybe the kale salad at the Battersby is the mother of all kale salads. But making it at home, we thought the salad was just good. And there's nothing wrong with a good salad. We eat perfectly good salads all the time.
Give it a try and tell us what you think. Who knows, maybe it will be the best dish you've eaten this year.
1 1/2 tablespoons (packed) palm sugar or light brown sugar
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 red Thai chile or 1/4 red jalapeño, seeded, thinly sliced
24 small Tuscan kale leaves (about 5 inches) or 5-inch-long pieces torn from large stemmed leaves
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups (loosely packed) mixed tender herbs (such as cilantro, mint, and basil)
3 cups mixed shaved vegetables (such as carrots, beets, and radishes)
2 cups pea tendrils, watercress, or baby arugula
2 cups thinly sliced stemmed Tuscan kale leaves (from 1 bunch)
1 cup thinly sliced cucumber
Microwave sugar and 2 Tbsp. water on high in a medium microwave-safe bowl until sugar is dissolved, about 30 seconds. Let cool. Whisk in next 4 ingredients for dressing. Set aside.
Arrange racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 250°. Brush tops of kale leaves with oil; season with salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on 2 large baking sheets. Bake, rotating sheets top to bottom halfway through, until kale is crisp, about 30 minutes. Transfer leaves from baking sheets to a wire rack; let cool.
Mix herbs and remaining 4 ingredients with 6 Tbsp. dressing in a large bowl. Divide salad among plates; top with crispy kale leaves and drizzle remaining dressing over.