Adrienne Gajownik

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Nutty kale salad

There's something so refreshing about a road trip. Not the drive-across-the-country kind, but the see-a-new-city-in-a-day kind. You wake up, jump in the car, grab coffee and bagels, and arrive in a new place in a couple of hours. We did this last Saturday, spending most of the day exploring Richmond, Virginia. Man, what a great city. We were jealous of the close proximity of nature, including a river, to downtown dwellers.

We shopped in Carytown, grabbed an afternoon pick-me-up at Lamplighter Roasting Co., then hiked along the rocks on Belle Isle along the James River. Afterwards we drove around marveling the many industrial warehouses around downtown and the river, before making our way to dinner.
A friend recommended Secco wine bar, so we grabbed a few small plates there before heading home. We shared the grilled garlic bread with sea salt and a side of the fried chickpeas. He got the chicken confit salad while I chose the kale salad. My salad was excellent, with it's woodsy oyster mushrooms, asian pear, gouda, pumpkin seeds and oil. I could've eaten several orders of that salad.
I decided to make the salad when I got home. Unfortunately I was out of pumpkin seed oil, but had a new bottle of my favorite walnut oil, so I decided to mix things up. I used walnut oil and walnuts instead of pumpkin seed, and replaced the gouda with gruyere. The Asian pear provides a refreshing sweetness to the nuttiness of the nuts and cheese. I mixed in some cooked lentils to make this a heartier lunchtime salad.

Nutty kale salad
1/4 c walnuts
2 tbsp walnut oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 bunch of lacinato kale
1 tsp dijion mustard
1 shallot or quarter of an onion
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest
half an asian pear, cut into matchsticks
2-3 tbsp of grated gruyere
black pepper and lemon zest for garnish

Preheat oven to 350. Put the walnuts onto a baking sheet and bake until toasted, about 5 minutes. Mix together 1 tsp of walnut oil, 1/4 tsp salt, and the chili powder. Drizzle over the walnuts and set aside. Once cooled, roughly chop.

Remove the stems of the kale. Tear kale into bite-size pieces. Rinse with water and toss into a salad spinner. Once dry, put kale leaves into a large bowl.

Mix together the remaining walnut oil, 1/4 tsp salt, mustard, shallot, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Let flavors meld for about ten minutes, then pour over kale leaves. Using your hands, massage the dressing into the leaves for about 5 minutes. The size of the kale should reduce and the leaves should soften. Add the pear and gruyere to the salad. Finish with more lemon zest and black pepper.