Kale Salad with Creamy Poblano Dressing

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Growing up in a Southern household, we certainly enjoyed our fair share of greens, but they were most certainly not served up like this recipe.  Our greens were simmered, almost until surrender, in a pot of broth and a smoked ham hock.  Delicious as they were (and still are), they were completely depleted of texture and essential nutrients. I still enjoy a pot of greens and its likker, but I also like to enjoy the taste, texture and nutrient value of fresh kale. 

This beautiful bowl of health came to me via Chicago Magazine a while back.  The developer was chef John Manion of La Sirena Clandestina.  The restaurant has since closed, so am I ever glad I have this recipe to share with you.  Chef Manion developed this dressing as a nod to green goddess dressing with a Latin spin and boy did he ever nail it!

The base of the dressing is made with blackened poblano peppers, avocado, and garlic. Yum! They are blended together with egg yolk, Dijon, buttermilk, and oil for an incredibly creamy dressing.  I like to thin the dressing with a little bit of water, but you can make it as is of to your own desired consistency.  The one thing that I did change was to dial back on the oil, so it doesn't emulsify into a green mayonnaise.  This bold dressing holds up very well to the somewhat tough kale leaves.  Having said that, one trick I like to use when working with fresh kale, is to massage the dressing into the kale with your hands.  This helps break down the leaf fibers making them more tender.  Toss in some sliced jalapeños, radishes, pepitas, cilantro and a sprinkle of grated Cotija and this will become your new favorite kale salad with just one bite.  Ok, you'll probably be "bowled" over by the taste of the dressing before you even get to the kale.)  There will be some leftover dressing, but be thankful.  It is delicious as a dip, as a sandwich or burger spread, or even as a dressing over potatoes.

Serve as a light lunch, as side salad, or add in some protein like shrimp or chicken to make it a loaded meal.  Enjoy!

Kale Salad with Creamy Poblano Dressing
serves 4-6

2 Poblano peppers
1 extra large egg yolk
1/2 medium avocado, peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/3 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 cup Safflower oil or other neutral oil
1 large bunch (about 12 ounces) kale, cleaned, stemmed and torn into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons (1 1/2-ounces) roasted, unsalted pepitas (Spanish pumpkin seeds)
2 medium jalapeños, thinly sliced
3 large radishes, thinly sliced
1/4 cup (1-ounce) grated Cotija cheese
1/4 cup shopped cilantro

Adjust the oven rack to the top position and heat the broiler to high.  Place the poblanos on an aluminum lined baking sheet and broil, turning once, until the skins are evenly blackened and blistered, about 10 minutes total.  Remove from the oven and fold foil into a packet to allow the peppers to steam.  When cool enough to handle, peel and halve the peppers, removing the stems and seeds.

Place the poblanos and the nest seven ingredients in a blender and pulse until puréed.  With the blender on low, slowly stream in the oil until the dressing is smooth and emulsified.  Thin with water, if needed, to reach desired dressing consistency. Makes about 2 cups

Put the kale in a large bowl.  Pour 1/2 cup dressing over the kale.  Using clean hands, massage the dressing into the kale Add another 1/4 cup dressing and toss to coat. Taste for seasoning and add more dressing if desired; store any leftover dressing in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. (Dressing can be used on potatoes, as a sandwich or burger spread, or as a dip.) Add the pepitas, jalapeños, radishes, Cotija, and cilantro toss and serve. Enjoy!

Source: Adapted from Chicago Magazine, October 2017


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