I’ve always been a fan of kale, but never ate it raw. That is, until a friend of ours took us to Echo Park’s Elf Café and we ordered the spicy kale salad. Crunchy and piquant, it’s like no other salad I’ve tasted, and the good news is—it’s pretty easy to make yourself.
Spicy Kale Salad (inspired by Elf Café, adapted by me)
1 bunch curly kale
Harissa (hot red pepper paste, I bought mine at one of the Persian markets nearby, but I’ve seen it at Whole Foods and specialty markets)
Chermoula (ingredients below)
4 or 5 garlic cloves
one bunch cilantro
one bunch parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
juice from 2 or 3 lemons (to taste)
My usual kale routine is to put it in a sink full of water, swish it around, rinse, drain the sink and repeat. This gets all the dirt off the leaves. Remove ribs and chop the leaves, then spin dry in a salad spinner.
I’d describe chermoula as Moroccan pesto. It’s incredibly easy to make and no matter how much I tweak amounts, I still love the taste. I use Deborah Madison’s recipe from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. She recommends making it in a mortar and pestle, but I am lazy and use my Vitamix, though a food processor would work too. The original recipe calls for 2/3 cup of cilantro, and 1/3 cup of parsley, but I generally just make sure I have more cilantro than parsley and call it a day. I throw everything in the blender, taste and adjust the seasonings, often adding more lemon juice or salt.
Cut up an avocado, slice some feta cheese, and assemble your salad: a pile of kale, a dollop of chermoula, a blob of harissa and as much feta and avocado as you’d like. Stir everything together and the ingredients will coat the kale, resulting in awesomeness.
And, yes, there isn’t any avocado in that photo. I was so excited I’d remembered to take a photo before eating with an actual camera that I forgot to add the avocado after I’d stirred it all up. Don’t worry, I added it before eating. And, because he’s cute…Ari!