At the 2014 Nutrition and Health Conference back in May, I was fortunate enough to have a second row seat to watch Dr. Andrew Weil, founder of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine and originator of this recipe for lemon-parmesan kale salad, prepare it on stage with cookbook author Rebecca Katz. The two of them worked together to whip up an entire intriguingly seasoned, plant-based meal in 30 minutes, just like a really healthy version of a Food Network show, complete with pre-prepped bowls of ingredients and witty banter.
Unfortunately, the only picture that ended up saving to my photo stream from my four days at the conference in Dallas was the one of the cake and bread I snuck out of a session to purchase because I JUST COULDN’T TAKE ANOTHER MEAL WITHOUT SUGAR AND CARBS.
I know. Terrible. I’m going to be the worst dietitian ever. (But that carrot cake was soooo worth it.)
My little exodus in search of sweetness and wheat was not motivated by not enjoying the food served at the conference. It was fresh, expertly prepared, and genuinely delicious. I just really needed some bread and dessert to go with it.
So, sadly enough, I do not have any photos of Dr. Weil preparing this famous side dish served at all his True Food Kitchen restaurants across the country. It’s a real shame, because it was a joy to watch him cook. His familiarity with the recipe was apparent, and his adjustments and flourishes were like watching a master painter create a masterpiece. Seriously, if I were a single 60-something lady, well….that’s all I’m going to say about that.
Let’s get back to the salad. Right, the salad. Like I said, this delightful green dish is a staple at Dr. Weil’s True Food Kitchen restaurants, which are based around his anti-inflammatory diet philosophy (now with locations in Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Texas, and Virginia–if you live in one of these states, I highly recommend checking it out!) Having dined at the restaurant many times, I was familiar with this salad, as it and a sweet potato hash are the two side dishes offered with most entrees. I enjoy both, but I usually choose the salad. So tonight, when I was making dinner and needed something to liven up the half a bag of kale sitting in my fridge, I figured it was as good a time as any to try my hand at this recipe. Having watched Dr. Weil make it, I knew it was not complicated and used simple ingredients.
I have another kale salad recipe that I enjoy and eat with due diligence, but WHOA, this one had me eyeing the bowl, wondering if anyone else is going to eat the rest before I could get to it. It’s actually a little baffling how a salad that is basically just kale with parmesan and a simple dressing could be so appealing and taste so mouthwateringly good. But there you have it. I actually forfeited eating dessert after dinner in favor of eating more of this salad. And THAT’S saying something. Perhaps a little redemption from my furtive cake run at the conference a few months ago. (Though I stand by it. That carrot cake totally hit the spot.)
True Food Kitchen Kale Salad
4-6 c. kale, loosely packed (Dr. Weil recommends black kale, but I used standard green kale, which also worked great)
Juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 c.)
3-4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed
Salt and pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes to taste
2/3 c. Pecorino or Parmesan cheese
1/2 c. freshly made bread crumbs from lightly toasted bread
1. Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and a generous pinch of red pepper flakes.
2. Pour over kale in a serving bowl and toss well (tossing with your hands works well, as it covers more surface area of the kale).
3. Add 2/3 of the cheese and toss again.
4. Let kale sit for at least 5 minutes. Meanwhile, toast and crumble bread. Add bread crumbs, toss again, and top with remaining cheese.