Food & Drink

The Kale Salad That Started It All

Meet the salad that started the kale fad in the United States with this recipe excerpted from Six Seasons by Joshua McFadden (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2017. Photographs by Laura Dart and A.J. Meeker. 
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This is the raw kale salad that changed my life. I was the chef de cuisine at Franny’s in Brooklyn back in 2007. I was mad that I couldn’t find good salad greens in the middle of winter, and I especially hated (still hate) the “mesclun mix” that lines the shelves of supermarkets—no flavor, no texture. I created this kale salad in rebellion against those miserable greens, having no idea it would take the world by storm. But once it got written up in the New York Times, the world seemed to have an unending hunger for kale salads!

The Kale Salad That Started It All


  • 1 bunch lacinato kale (aka Tuscan kale or cavolo nero), thick ribs cut out
  • 1⁄2 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1⁄4 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more to finish
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon dried chile flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1⁄4 cup dried breadcrumbs


  1. Stack several kale leaves on top of one another and roll them up into a tight cylinder. With a sharp knife, slice crosswise into very thin, about 1⁄16 inch, ribbons (this is called a chiffonade). Put the kale in a salad spinner, rinse in cool water, and spin until completely dry. Pile the kale into a bowl.
  2. Put the chopped garlic on a cutting board and mince it even more until you have a paste (you can sort of smash and scrape the garlic with the side of the knife as well). Transfer the garlic to a small bowl, add 1⁄4 cup pecorino, a healthy glug of olive oil, the lemon juice, chile flakes, 1⁄4 teaspoon salt, and plenty of twists of black pepper, and whisk to combine.
  3. Pour the dressing over the kale and toss well to thoroughly combine (you can use your clean hands for this, to be efficient). Taste and adjust with more lemon, salt, chile flakes, or black pepper. Let the salad sit for about 5 minutes so the kale softens slightly. Top with the breadcrumbs, shower with more cheese, and drizzle with more oil.

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