Last night, Tim, Rocco and I returned home after a full week away, driving first to Ohio and then to Chicago to see family, celebrate my birthday and give Rocco his first experience with a real road trip. Our boy was born into a family that has to travel to see its family, so we figured he may as well start learning what that’s like now, in the early days, when he’s all of just two months old. The way there was broken up by a night in Ohio, at Tim’s sister’s house, where we ate perfectly grilled chicken and decadent chocolate mousse cake alongside Italian-style green beans and quinoa salad. In Chicago, my mom made my favorite lemon chicken and my brother baked me chocolate birthday cake, and there were a lot of days of Three Twins ice cream. I don’t think I exerted more effort than scooping prepared food onto my plate the whole vacation, so you can imagine what a luxury that was. And even on our epic 10-hour trip home yesterday (because, new parent lesson!, road trips get longer when they’re interrupted every two to three hours by an infant’s feeding sessions), we were armed with a full bag of snacks and yet still got to also eat at Chipotle, where again someone else was making our meal. The fast food place was right in the middle of college town Champaign, Illinois, where kids waited in line with their parents or friends from last school year, and while we waited with them, watching them with their sorority t-shirts and book bags, I felt sure I should be registering for classes too, because wasn’t I just 18, even while I held a snoozy child in my arms.
Anyway, we’re back. Rocco cooed with pure delight when we set him in his room again, smiling non-stop for at least 20 minutes while Tim and I unpacked suitcases and went through a week’s worth of mail. He’s nine weeks old now, officially in his third month of life, weighing in at twice his birth weight and killing us with us leg rolls and happy sounds. This morning we loaded him up in the car seat all over again to take him to church, and our little champ stayed fairly content through the service, at least once Tim took him in his arms. Sometimes I look at him and think, Kid! You’re more patient than I am! And every memory of a meltdown starts to seem so comparably small.
We bought groceries on the way home and had tomato toasts for lunch, and, since I was still hungry, immediately afterwards I made this kale salad. It’s not a new salad, and it’s not a salad original to us, but, at least in my personal experience, when you return to the kitchen after some time away, it’s the classics and not the creative that sound the best.
This is the kale salad that I could eat completely by myself, the one that I eat for pure enjoyment and not for the nutrients inside. It’s covered with Pecorino and flavored with raw garlic, and the breadcrumbs throughout give it a nice texture and crunch. Believe me, if you or someone you love is on the kale-salad fence, thinking it sounds like something you’d eat when you’re dieting and not for much else, this is the version to swing you firmly to the pro-kale-salad side. Sometimes I crave it more than ice cream. Like today. All I’ve been wanting is a big plate of greens, and Kroger’s $0.99 organic kale sale made it too easy to make. So behold, here on the blog at last, the kale salad I have probably recommended to you in person already if kale salad has ever come up:
My Favorite Kale Salad
or, Italian Kale Salad, Adapted from 101 Cookbooks, Introduced to Us by Ashley
This recipe is based off the version on Heidi Swanson’s 101 Cookbooks blog. Her measurements are more exact so if you’re concerned about getting the right feel, check out her site here. Below is the way I always make it, which is highly taste dependent and extremely flexible but always, always, savor-every-bite good.
2 peeled garlic cloves (this is if you love garlic like we do. if you don’t, try part of one clove instead)
A few pieces of old bread, toasted (Italian, sourdough, a baguette, whatever you like)
1 bunch of kale (I personally use green kale, red kale, Tuscan kale or whatever other kale is on sale and they all work well), leaves torn from stems into small pieces
A heaping pile of grated Pecorino cheese (Parmesan would also work)
Juice of half a lemon
Olive oil, to taste
Salt, to taste
Throw the garlic cloves in a food processor and pulse until chopped fine. Scoop out into a large bowl. Then throw the toasted bread into the same unwashed food processor and pulse until the texture of fine breadcrumbs. Add to bowl of garlic. Add torn kale, Pecorino, juice of half a lemon and a few glugs of olive oil. Massage with your fingertips until everything is combined and the kale is well coated. Salt to taste. Feel free to adjust proportions as you like. Enjoy!