Poor Man’s Caesar Salad – we Love our Kale

Wilted Kale Salad

Periodically, when we’re in the dead of winter, we begin thinking deep, green thoughts. At those times, this salad comes irresistibly to her mind and Bonney turns into a slicing and chopping foo’ in the kitchen while she preps the kale for this gorgeous and entirely delicious salad, adapted from the popular “Poor Man’s Caesar Salad” at Lupa’s in NYC.

I admire her energy and I love the result – living proof that you do not need to cook kale to make it entirely lovely – you just need to chop it properly and marinate it in a lemon (or vinegar) based dressing. In fact, if you love to play with your food, this is a great salad to mix with your hands, as “massaging” the kale with the dressing makes it even more tender.

The nice folks at Cookus Interruptus offer us this fancy Massaged Kale recipe, which you also might like, here you go!

Some folks recommend that you chiffonade the kale. Chiffonade, like many cool terms of art in the food world, is French, and it roughly means “to slice into thin shredded ribbons that resemble torn fabric, with bits sticking out and an occasional piece of button hanging on by a thread”. As you can see, French is an incredibly compact language, which is probably why it’s so useful in describing these complex foodie things.

We think you can chiffonade if you want to, especially if you’re using lacinato (sometimes called “dinosaur”) kale. If you’re using leaf / curly kale, it’s better to just remove the heavy stems and big veins, then chop to a rough medium dice.

Ingredients (Serves 6 as Dinner Salad)

  • 1 pound lacinato kale, or tender regular kale, stems and center ribs discarded, make sure to finely chop the kale
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot. OK, look, this is the traditional allium, and shallot is great, but we’ve experimented and find that thinly sliced red onion is a tastier – and far more beautiful! – accent in this salad.
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (or the juice of one juicy lemon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon medium sea salt, or a little less of coarse
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Heavy quarter cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 ounces coarsely grated ricotta salata or cotija. Ricotta salata is the traditional cheese, we’ve had wonderful results with cotija at about half the price, give it a whirl.


After removing all the big stems and larger ribs, chop the kale pretty finely – don’t mince it, just a medium chop. If you’re using lacinato kale, you can chiffonade it by removing the stems and large central vein, then rolling the leaf up and slicing it very thinly lengthwise.
Put kale in your salad bowl
Add thinly sliced red onion
Make a dressing of the lemon, EVOO, salt and pepper, pour over kale
Work dressing thoroughly into salad, using tongs or better, your hands
Add cheese and toss lightly

Wilt: (Optional) Before adding cheese (or hell, after adding cheese, we’re not fussy), place a portion in microwave for about 45 seconds. This softens the kale still further without cooking it and is very good, particularly if you’re using the salad as a bed for a dish. The picture below shows wilted kale salad with Stuffed Scalloped Potatoes.<p>

Kale Salad, Wilted - shown with Stuffed Scalloped Potatoes

Kale Salad, Wilted – shown with Stuffed Scalloped Potatoes