This is a simple basic recipe that opens up endless possibilities and variations once you get the flavors just right for your taste. The salad is built of four elements: a mustard vinaigrette, kale, pecorino cheese and almonds.
Now you see already, that the ingredient list inspires tweaking! Maybe you want to make a tahini vinaigrette. Maybe you will substitute kale with shaved brussels sprouts. Maybe you are out of pecorino but there is a chunk of parmigiano in the fridge. Right now, I am out of almonds but I have some fresh, peeled, delicious hazelnuts from Piemonte on hand, so I will use them instead, and not roasted but fresh.
So, yes. Go ahead. All those variation will work and you will have fun experimenting.
Fresh kale leaves
For the vinaigrette:
Good olive oil or whatever you like to use
Good vinegar: red, white, champagne
Black pepper (optional)
Start by roasting the almonds. Find recipe here.
Wash and dry kale leaves. Remove and discard the stem and center vein, and chop the leaves into thin strips.
In a small bowl or measuring cup, make the vinaigrette. Start with a generous spoonful of mustard and whisk in a little bit of oil to create an emulsion, like when you are making mayo. Continue adding oil and whisking until you have the volume you want. Add salt and vinegar to the taste, and black pepper if you like some.
The vinaigrette should be creamy and tart. Especially when using sturdy green leaves such as kale, it’s got to have a good kick.
Dress the chopped kale leaves with the vinaigrette. I like mixing salads with my hands because you get so much information in the process: you feel exactly when you have enough dressing. Another way to tell, of course, is to taste.
Before serving, add chopped almonds and shaved pecorino cheese and mix.
Substitute kale with brussels sprouts. Substitute some of the kale leaves with baby spinach. Substitute some of the mustard in the vinagrette with tahini and some of the vinegar with lime. Instead of pecorino cheese, try feta.