When I revisit a restaurant, I typically do a goodjob of not ordering something I?ve already had or, at the very least, not whatI had the last time I was there. But Ithink I may be physically incapable of sitting down at Northern Spy Food Co. inthe East Village for brunch and not orderingthe kale salad with baked eggs.
Yeah, I know, big fucking deal, it?s just akale salad, and kale salads are pretty fucking ubiquitous at this point, but NorthernSpy?s is an exemplary expression of the form. It?s a modest number, with just a few simple ingredients that workincredibly well together. The kale iswell tenderized but nowhere near limp, the hunks of squash are soft andyielding. The roasted almonds provide some crunch while the cheddar, with a greatsharpness, keeps things interesting. Pecorino finely grated atop the whole messadds some salinity, and once pricked, the yolks of those eggs coat everythingin their radness.
The day after my last visit to the restaurant, Ifound myself craving that damned salad. So instead of going back there like a loser, I made one for myself. Andthen I made it again the next day. And Ihave eaten some variation of it nearly every day since. What precisely I throw in there depends onwhat I have in my fridge, what I might have found at the farmer?s market that day andgenerally how lazy I am feeling.
Though I started out just making the salads as I atethem, it didn?t take me long to realize that I?d be doing myself a favor byjust making one big-ass salad in the beginning of the week and portioning itout to eat as I pleased without having to bother with all the chopping eachtime. That?s the lovely thing aboutkale, which I?ve expounded upon before: unlike other salad greens, kale won?tturn into a disgusting, soggy mess if it sits dressed in the fridge for acouple of days. Its hardiness means thatit actually benefits from that time, and keeping it raw preserves all thosegood dark leafy green things that made people assume that kale was gross for solong.
My most recent composition was quite similar toNorthern Spy?s. I managed to actually turn on the oven on a weeknight androasted up some parsnips and a sweet potato, and used the same Cabot clothbound cheddar that they use over on East 12th street. The similarities ended after the cheese androasted root vegetables, though. Forone, I am not sure what they use to dress their salad over at Northern Spy; Iam typically too busy enjoying the shit out of it to try and figure that out(maybe next time), and I didn?t have any non-Tamari almonds, so I toasted upsome walnuts. And instead of baking the eggs, I opted to baste mine to ensurethat as much of the yolk as possible was left free to run all over mysalad. Suffice it to say, I ate thissalad four fucking times this week.
Winter Kale Salad with Lemon Tahini DressingMakes 4 Servings
I don't know why I'm calling this a winter salad. I guess because there's root vegetables and walnuts and shit in there. Anyway, I like lacinato (also known as dinosaur or black)kale for this salad. It?s tenderer than green kale, and I love thecharacteristic bumps in the leaves.
When basting eggs, you can add either more fat (oil, lard, butter) to the pan,but I opt for water to keep it healthier. I prefer basting to sunny-side up, asI like the top of my eggs to be a little bit cooked, but want my yolks to beperfectly runny. That said, cook youreggs however you please, but know that the runny yolk adds a great deal to thefinished product.
Salad1 head lacinato kale, washed, spun and thinlychopped 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided1 sweet potato, cut into ½? dice1 large or two medium parsnips, cut into ½? dice¼ cup walnuts, toasted and chopped4 ounces good-quality cheddar (I used Cabotclothbound), crumbled / chopped into small pieces4 eggsPecorino Romano cheese, to taste
Dressing2 tablespoons tahini2 tablespoons olive oil2 tablespoons lemon juice2 tablespoons water1 garlic clove, minced and smashed into a pasteSalt and pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Toss the diced sweet potato and parsnip witha tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper, spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet, and roast in the ovenfor about 25 minutes, checking every little while to make sure they?re notburning and tossing them around as necessary. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
While the vegetables are in the oven, prep thekale. Remove the leaves from the ribs(this can be easily done by pinching the base of the rib and moving your fingersup the rib, removing the leaves as you go). Wash and dry the leaves (I do this in my salad spinner and then prep thesalad in the bowl of the spinner so as not to dirty another dish). Stack theleaves, roll into tight cigars and slice into ½? ribbons. Place the ribbons of kale in large bowl andadd the tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt, massaging the oil into thegreens with your hands to help tenderize them. Set kale aside.
Make the dressing. Combine the tahini, lemon juice and garlic. While whisking the mixture, slowly add in theolive oil. Thin the dressing out withwater, adding it one tablespoon at a time to ensure you don?t thin it out toomuch. Add salt and pepper and adjustseasoning and oil levels to taste.
Once the sweet potato and parsnip have cooled, addthem to the kale, along with the cheddar and chopped walnuts. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss tocombine (using your hands may be easiest, so don?t be afraid to get them alittle dirty). Divide the salad amongfour plates.
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Coat the bottom of the skillet with non-stickspray, oil or butter. Crack the eggsinto the pan and allow the whites to set a bit. Add a good glug of water and put a lid on the pan to help cook the topsof the eggs. Once the yolks are cookedto your desired doneness, remove the eggs, blot the bottom with paper towelsand place one egg atop each of the four salads.
Finish the salad with a healthy shower of gratedpecorino, a drizzle of good olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Now go enjoy the shit out of it.
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