Monday, September 7, 2015

Summer Kale Chicken Caesar Salad

Today is Labor Day, which is the unofficial "end of summer." But technically, it's still summer for another couple weeks, and summer produce is still in full swing. The farmers market is loaded with tomatoes, sweet corn, leafy greens and other wonderful vegetables and fruits. The bounty will be gone soon, but for now, enjoy it.

Kale salads have been quite the fad in recent years, and there aren't any signs they'll be going away anytime soon. One of the first recipes I made for this site was a wintery Kale Caesar Salad based on a recipe I saw in GQ magazine. I wanted to revisit that dish but with a summery spin, given that kale is available year-round.

Toasted hazelnuts provided crunch in the winter salad, but here I've gone the more traditional route with croutons, although they are oven-toasted from fresh bread, so they aren't as dry. For the cheese, I substituted fresh mozzarella balls for the usual parmigiano-reggiano and added sungold tomatoes. The garlic-lemon anchovy dressing imparts savory notes while still giving the salad a zesty brightness.

Summer Kale Chicken Caesar Salad

2 tbsp. plus 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast cutlets
1/2 tsp. aleppo pepper flakes
Salt, to taste
2 cups good-quality bread cubes (I use a sourdough-like bread called Palladin from my local bakery)
Extra virgin olive oil spray (or 2 tbsp. olive oil)
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 bunch of kale
1 cup sungold cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup bite-size fresh mozzarella balls
1 tbsp. capers
2 tbsp. fresh basil leaves, torn or cut into pieces
2 anchovy fillets, rinsed and dried
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1. Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add chicken, season with aleppo pepper and salt and cook until the chicken is cooked through and lightly browned, about 10 minutes, turning halfway. Set cooked chicken aside to cool a bit, then chop into 3/4-inch pieces.

2. Adjust an oven rack about 9 inches from the broiler and preheat the broiler. Place the bread cubes in a large bowl and spray with olive oil, tossing the bread to evenly coat the cubes (alternatively drizzle with about 2 tbsp. of olive oil). Season bread cubes with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Arrange the bread cubes on a baking sheet (line with foil for easy clean up) and broil until the tops of the bread cubes are toasted, about 2 minutes. Turn over the cubes and broil for another 45 seconds to 1 minute until the cubes are toasted on other side.

3. Cut the stems from the kale and discard. Using your hands, squeeze and rub the kale leaves together until they have softened. Cut the kale into strips about 1/2-inch wide and add to a large bowl. Add the tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, capers and basil to the bowl.

4. Combine the anchovies, garlic and a small pinch of salt in a small bowl (I use a Pyrex 1-cup measuring cup) using a blunt instrument (like a cocktail muddler), mash the anchovies and garlic into a paste. Add freshly ground pepper, vinegar and lemon juice and stir to combine, then add 1/4 cup olive oil and whisk until emulsified. Pour over the salad and toss to combine. Stir in the cooked chicken and croutons. Serve the salad on large plates.


Kale Caesar Salad

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