One of the great things about having one’s brother-in-law live with them is the shared appreciation for good food. That’s not to say that there was any shortage of that enthusiasm prior to him moving, in, but now there’s an added dose of appetites and cooking inspiration.
For some reason, we’ve shared fewer meals as a group in recent months than we did at the beginning; each of us is busy in our own way, and lately the routine of sitting down for a family meal has been associated more with a special occasion than a weeknight ritual.
Yesterday, however, was a different story. As we all lounged in our bathrobes on the lazy Sunday, my brother-in-law was struck with an appetite for ribs. He and my husband make some of the best ribs around, and normally it’s a process that begins the night before. But after an afternoon trip to the store to get supplies, the rib preparation was in progress.
While I would love to learn their secrets one of these days, I usually let the men work their magic while I get to work on the rest of the meal. Last night, the accompaniment was a raw kale salad (when there are ribs involved, I’ve learned that one side is adequate; any more is just superfluous).
Raw kale salads have been experiencing their moment in the spotlight for the past few years, and this winter green–perhaps best known for its cooked preparations–creates a salad that’s at once hearty and packed with healthful vitamins.
I typically associate raw kale salads with a generous coating of a flavorful oil and some lemon juice or sherry vinegar added for tang. But when I found one with an old-fashioned dressing consisting of heavy cream, lemon, sugar, and salt in a Scandinavian cookbook, I was intrigued.
The heavy cream coated the sides of the bowl as I whisked it with the juice and zest of one lemon, some sugar, and a little salt. It clung to the kale leaves as I poured it over and gave the salad a good toss. I plated the salad, brought it to the table, and was ready for the moment of truth:
The men liked it!
Sure enough, a Scandinavian recipe has proved to me once again that sometimes all it takes is a few good ingredients to make something great.
Kale Salad with Lemon-Cream Dressing
Camilla Plum–from whose book “The Scandinavian Kitchen” this recipe is adapted–says that kale has been around in Scandinavia since the days of the Vikings. Its hearty, nutrient-dense properties and its ability to thrive in cold climates has made it a vital part of northern diets for ages.
1 bunch (11 to 15 ounces) lacinato kale
3/4 cup heavy cream
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon course sea salt
Wash and dry the kale, and use a knife to cut off and discard the ribs. Roll up the leaves and cut into 1/2-inch strips. To make the dressing, place cream, lemon zest and juice, sugar, and salt in a medium-sized bowl and stir together with a fork or whisk until combined. Taste and season with more salt if necessary. Place kale in a large bowl and mix with enough dressing to coat thoroughly. Serve.