Kale salad is more in keeping with the season, yes? For those sighing heavily at the suggestion of more kale, what if I imbue it with warm browned butter? You know, instead of the oil that you’d normally douse it with.
Perhaps you already know the trick of massaging your raw kale leaves with olive oil, which loosens up the leaves a bit, mellowing them out and making them easier to eat. Drizzling them with warm, just-browned butter does the same – it tames the kale, dialing it down toward cooked, but still raw. It’s easier on the teeth, and to pile onto your fork. Which you’ll want to do.
To brown butter, all you need to do is melt it, then leave it on the stove a little longer, swirling the pan occasionally, until the foam starts to turn nutty and brown. The result is like butter supreme – the milk solids toasty, the whole lot salty and amplified. A squeeze of lemon adds the acid it needs, making it more like a salad than buttered veg, but letting the browned butter be the hero.
This would do well with apples or pears, goat cheese or blue cheese, toasted walnuts or almonds, but I had extra aged Gouda that had dried out almost to the point of Parmesan, and hazelnuts just seemed like a good idea.
Browned Butter Kale Salad with Hazelnuts and Pears
½ bunch kale, leaves removed and thinly sliced
4-5 Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced or shaved (discard stem ends) – optional
¼ cup butter
1-2 Tbsp. lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste
1 ripe but firm pear, chopped
½ cup roughly chopped hazelnuts, almonds or walnuts, toasted
¼-1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese or aged Gouda
Put the kale and Brussels sprouts in a bowl. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat; continue cooking, swirling the pan occasionally, until the foam starts turning golden and nutty-smelling. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
Pour over the kale, scraping out the bottom of the pan to get all those browned bits, and toss to coat well. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
Add the pear, hazelnuts and Parmesan cheese, toss and serve. Serves 4.