A few weeks ago, my boyfriend, Jordan, and I took a much needed long weekend away from the city. I love everything about living in NYC… the energy, the skyline, the food (obviously), the endless list of things to do at any given hour of the day… but let me tell you, it can get to be a lot. The noise, the crowds, the inconvenience of having to be anywhere on time, it can be unbearable sometimes. If you live in NYC you will absolutely know what I’m talking about. If you don’t then it’s hard to put into words…it can sort of feel like this. Especially after this wretched winter, when everyone was surly and miserable because the weather was so incredibly oppressing, we were just over it and needed a weekend away. So we booked a long weekend at a small lake house in the Berkshires. Just Jordan, our dog Brody and myself.
The weekend was so relaxing. We slept in, ate breakfast on the beautiful porch overlooking a serene lake. Went for long hikes in untouched forest, where we’d go for hours without seeing a single person. Spent our evenings cooking dinner, drinking wine and enjoying the beautiful view. It was absolutely perfect, and it just felt so good to get away from it all.
On Saturday morning I was so excited because I found a local farmers market near the cottage we were staying in. It was late May, so I had visions of leafy greens, rustic chard, ruby red radishes, and all the delicious spring time vegetables I had planned to throw on the grill that evening. But low and behold, the only fresh produce at this farmers market was some sad looking asparagus and some stalks of rhubarb. While I definitely made use of the rhubarb, I was so sad that even though it felt like spring, the spring produce was still hibernating.
When we got back to the city, we felt revived and relaxed, but I still had the craving for fresh, spring vegetables. So when I visited our local farmers market that next weekend, I was irrationally excited to see the stands overflowing with leafy greens. I stocked up on kale, radishes, more rhubarb (got to take advantage of that short season while you can) and gorgeous crispy asparagus. As soon as I got home, I whipped up this healthy, filling salad for a late lunch. The kale pairs nicely with the ricotta salsa and added crunch from the walnuts, and sturdy greens hold up to the thick avocado dressing. This can easily be an entree salad for a satisfying, healthy summer dinner. My craving was satisfied, but haven’t stopped thinking about fresh and healthy recipes with all the amazing produce summer will bring. Stay tuned!
Note: The avocado dressing is quite thick. The salad is even better when you allow the kale to soak up the dressing for an hour or two before serving. Kale is easier to chew and mixes well in salads if it’s cut into thin ribbons. The culinary term for this is called “chiffonade.”
Kale Salad with Ricotta Salata and Creamy Avocado Dressing
Adapted from Food Every Which Way
- 1 bunch kale (preferably Tuscan kale), chiffonade, ~6 cups
- 6 radishes, very thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
- 4 ounces (~1/2 cup) ricotta salata, crumbled
- 1 avocado, 1/2 roughly chopped and 1/2 reserved for dressing
- 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoon dijon mustard
- juice of one lime
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
In a large salad bowl, add the kale, sliced radishes, onion, ricotta, walnuts and 1/2 of the avocado that has been roughly chopped.
In the bowl of an electric food processor, add the remaining 1/2 avocado, , red wine vinegar, olive oil, mustard, lime juice, pepper flakes and salt and pepper. Blend until smooth and creamy, about one minute. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed.
Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Add walnuts and serve. Serve as a main with crusty bread, or alongside any of your main course favorites.