February, what did I say about this month in my last post? Always the coldest month in Malta, and one that brings the annual bout of flu or at the very least a series of sniffles. How wrong I was. The past two weeks have seen mostly azure skies and warmth. Downpours have by-passed the Med, racing up to the UK instead. Always opposites when it comes to weather. The silence on Red Bistro then for two weeks can’t have been down to ‘feeling low’ or S.A.D. A simple reason really for my lack of posting, despite good intentions – I couldn’t bend to photo anything let alone heave a cooking pot! A bad back for two whole gloriously blue weeks.
What better way to celebrate getting back to health than a late winter or early spring salad. This was part of our Sunday lunch today; a light, tastier than the ingredients suggest salad, served warm in our case with a ham joint. Curly kale isn’t a native of Malta, but I couldn’t resist grabbing a small bunch (expense prevents more) at the supermarket the other day. It’s not at all a strong cabbagy taste as you might think. Blanched quickly it retains it shape and deepens in colour. I like to think of this salad as a true Anglo-Mediterranean mix: the kale from northern climes and the last of our local winter citrus (from my neighbour – so can’t get more local) making a crunchy, zesty and healthy dish ideal for a side or light meal in itself.
This salad was inspired by a recipe in Waitrose’ ‘Harvest’ Winter that came with their January magazine. Do try it as it really is tasty. No kale? Replace with baby spinach or broccoli.
All images © Liz Ayling 2014
‘St Clements’ Curly Kale Salad
- 2 good handfuls of curly kale
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 oranges – zest and flesh
- 1 lemon – zest only
- 400g can of chickpeas, drained
- 100g walnut pieces
- 1 fresh chili, deseeded and finely sliced
- 3 tbsps extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle over
- 1 knob of butter
- Wash the kale and remove any tough stalks. Bring a pot of water to the boil and blanch the kale leaves for 2 minutes. Drain well and set aside.
- Zest the oranges and the lemon and then peel the oranges, cutting the flesh into rough segments. Remove any excess pith as well as any pips. Set aside.
- In a large frying pan, melt the olive oil along with a knob of butter over a medium heat. Peel and slice garlic and fry gently with the walnut pieces for a couple of minutes (ensuring not to brown or burn the garlic). Remove with a slotted spoon, and drain on kitchen paper.
- Then, add the kale, chickpeas and orange segments to the pan, tossing around gently til they are warmed through making sure the kale is soft enough but not overly wilted.
- Add back into the pan the garlic and walnuts just to warm a little. The salad is now ready to serve with a drizzle of olive oil and add the zests and finely-chopped chili to garnish.
- Tips: You could use broccoli florets, Swiss chard or baby spinach; the latter won’t need blanching first. The chickpeas and nuts make this salad satisfying enough but you could add grated Parmesan or even a melting cheese like Fontina or Gorgonzola (lovely with the walnuts) to add more substance for a light lunch or starter.