You could call this confetti-like salad a shredded Caesar, but it contains no anchovies or garlic. It might remind you of a festive cole slaw, but it is neither sweet nor vinegary. And if you think it is any ordinary salad, you would be overlooking all the wonderful surprises nestled in this colorful, crunchy chiffonade.
It has become my new obsession, initially sparked at an Aspen restaurant called LuLu Wilson. There, I tasted a signature kale salad that I had been hearing about all summer, and I was instantly hooked. I’m not sure why the dish is so irresistible — it is simply a tangle of finely shredded kale, Parmesan cheese, currants and pine nuts, lightly coated in olive oil and lemon. My guess is that most people are so incredulous to be actually savoring a plate of raw kale that they have to finish the whole salad just to be sure. Thankfully, the charming Australian proprietor is always gracious about sharing his recipe.
But since most of us were not raised to yearn for hard-core roughage, I wanted to tweak the formula for more universal appeal. Substitute a trio of colorful lettuces and even the salad-adverse will polish it off. The trick is to shred the lettuces as finely as possible, cutting out the tough parts (the stems and cores of the endive and radicchio, the stem and dark green leaves of the romaine). The dressing is so basic that you might be tempted to punch it up with garlic or mustard, but the beauty of this salad is in its simplicity.
It is a recipe that is easily modified to suit your menu or appetite. In the mood for Middle Eastern fare? Add chick peas, Greek olives, and oregano, replacing the Parmesan with feta cheese. Craving Mexican? Add some pinto beans, tomatoes, avocado, lime instead of lemon juice and grated jalapeño jack cheese in place of the Parmesan. Or try an Asian-vegan version with edamame, water chestnuts, diced baked tofu and rice vinegar in place of lemon juice, mixed with a tablespoon of hoisin sauce, eliminating the cheese altogether.
However you decide to make it your own, there’s nothing like a good salad to help keep things light around your table all year long.
8 cups shredded endive, radicchio, and hearts of Romaine lettuce, or any combination
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium lemon, juiced (about 2 tablespoons juice)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup (about 3 ounces) dried currants
1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Place the shredded lettuce in a large bowl and toss gently with the olive oil, lemon juice and Parmesan cheese.
2. Add the currants and pine nuts, tossing to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
For another salad with a punch, try Persian Cucumber Yogurt Salad…as a side dish or cool condiment for grilled fish.