Categories: Food & DiningRecipes

Thanksgiving Prep: Kale, Carrot and Charred Date Salad

WILSON, WY — With less than a week to spare, it’s time to really start planning for your Thanksgiving. As a child, there was never really a hype leading up to Thanksgiving. Sure, my brothers and I anticipated our favorite dishes: the mashed potatoes and apple pie for my brother Francis, the stuffing and pecan pie for my brother Olav, and the roasted squash and pumpkin pie for me (hmmm sensing a pattern in mine). Thanksgiving day, I spent the whole day with my mother, helping her wherever she pointed me. It was a stress free day.

At sixteen, as adulthood approached and my innate, rooted love for cooking began to grow, Thanksgiving became an opportunity to create and explore flavors, textures and so much more. I spent weeks if not months researching new ideas to bring to the celebrated table. At first, it was met with some serious resistance.

“There will be mashed potatoes though, right?” My brother Francis asked, “with lumps? The way mom makes them?”

Sure Francis, we’ll make sure you have your potatoes.

“And the stuffing too, the way Mom does it, right?” from Olav. “And pecan pie?”

Of course Olav.

I could feel my opportunity slipping slowly away.

“Do whatever you want,” my mother said, “it’s not like they’re not going to eat it.”

That year we had lumpy mashed potatoes, mom’s stuffing, pies and turkey as usual. Additionally, I made my first batch of homemade cranberry sauce, a sweet potato and swiss chard gratin and some sort of kale salad. She was right. They ate it all, and even enjoyed it. After that, the reigns loosened and I had more leeway with my creations, until eventually, my brothers were excited to see what I would bring to the table each year.

While the anticipation of a house filled with delicious smells, it is, at the end of the day, the sounds of laughter and conversation that keep the holiday at the top of the list for celebrations. It is a day that is completely centered around the dinner table, where family and friends can revel in good food, but most importantly each others company.

That’s why it’s okay to keep things simple and uncomplicated, like this delicious, hearty shaved kale and carrot salad. Unlike other kale salads that involve messaging tenderness into the leaves, by chiffonading you eliminate the necessity of softening this hearty green with your hands. Similarly, you can dress the salad in advance without worrying about soggy salad. In fact, allowing the salad to marinate for an hour or two will actually enhance the final result.

Shaved Kale and Carrot Salad:

Makes enough for 6 (you can always adjust according to your party size)

For the Salad:

4 cups kale, chiffonnade (cut into very fine, thin pieces)

1 large carrot, shaved

4 medjool dates

1/2 cup raw hazelnuts

1/2 cup shaved Manchego

For the Dressing:

1/2 cup picked fresh tarragon

1/4 cup picked fresh parsley

1 tbsp dijon mustard

1 tsp honey

1 clove garlic (I like black garlic, the fermented flavor gives the dressing a nice kick)

3 anchovy fillets

2 tbsp grated parmesan

1/4 cup champagne vin. (red wine vin. works too)

juice 1 lemon

3/4 EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)

salt and pepper to taste

Set the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Put the hazelnuts on a sheet pan and roast for 5-7 minutes or until toasty, but not too dark otherwise they will taste burnt. While they roast, place a pan (ideally an iron skillet pan) on the stovetop over high heat. Put the dates on the pan and roast them, turning until the skin is slightly scorched. Remove from the pan and allow to cool. Wash, then chiffonnade the kale. Take your time. It’s a great way to practice your knife skills to get the kale chopped into fine ribbons. Next, shave the carrots into coins and add to the kale. If you don’t already have a mandolin, it’s very worth investing in. Otherwise, use a potato peeler or shaver. Run your knife through the toasted nuts. Don’t cut them too fine as the chunkier texture lends a nice contrast in the salad. Halve the dates, take the pits out, and cut widthwise into small half moons. Add all dressing ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Toss the salad ingredients together and dress to your liking. There will be leftover dressing to save for another use. Finish the salad with Manchego cheese shavings and pepper before serving.

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