Grilled everything seems to be my motto these days. If I think there is even a slight chance that something can be grilled, I will toss it over a hot fire without hesitation. Broccoli, leeks, squash, yams, you name it. Many of you already know that I’m a huge fan of grilled romaine. I present exhibit A: Grilled Romaine with Whole30 Ranch; and exhibit B:Charred Caesar with Scallops and Almonds. Both recipes take the humble head of romaine and grill it ever so slightly, just enough to wilt the edges and impart a slight charred flavour. If you’ve never grilled romaine, I encourage you to try it. It’s fantastic!
For some reason though, I never thought to do the same thing with kale. That is until a recent trip to a local Toronto restaurant where I saw a grilled kale pizza on the menu. The pizzaioli in the back of the open-air kitchen were slinging kale-studded pies left, right and centre. I was intrigued. Downright curious. I ordered one to share with my wife. No, it was not a paleo pizza. No, it wasn’t even gluten-free. I was about to scarf down something my ‘personal brand’ admonishes. And I was gonna enjoy every last bite because I’m an adult, I know my limit and I play within it. Though, I can’t say the same about Uncle Ronny in 2010. This would have been ‘Danger Will Robinson’ situation for him.
The pizza was just OK – nothing worth writing a blog post about. BUT THE KALE! OH LORD, THE KALE! Charred to a fine crisp in the molten brick oven. It was heavenly. I had to have more! But how to serve it? A cauliflower crust pizza would be interesting. But that’s a lot of work and I don’t like cranking the oven in the summer. What about a grilled kale salad? What about grilled kale caesar salad? Have people done that before? Am I the first? DID I JUST INVENT A DISH?
A quick google confirmed that I was late to the race. Everybody and their mother was Grilling Kale Caesars. I guess you can’t win ’em all. No biggie! I ran to buy bushels of the stuff from the market anyways. I came home and fired up the grill, tossed the kale with a bit of salt and avocado oil and flash-grilled them over high heat. I proceeded to strip the crispy leaves from their wilted stems, and whipped together my Classic Caesar dressing. It’s creamy, packed with umami and would coat the grilled leaves very nicely. But there was something missing. I got this sudden urge to freshly grate some pecorino overtop of the pile of grilled goodness! Enter my secret weapon: CASHEWS! That’s right. That beautiful snowfall of ivory curls is nothing more than a single cashew grated using a microplane. It’s a great trick that I use time and time again when I want to fool myself (and others). I remember a time when I would have thrown a cheese-free Caesar salad against the wall like Gordon Ramsay! HA!
Watch it homie: Grilled Kale Burns Quick
Word to the wise: Kale grills quickly! Like, 10-15 seconds per side over high heat. So, be sure to keep an eye on them when you make this recipe. To avoid burning, continuously flip the kale while on the grill. The whole cooking process should take less than a minute.
I hope you like this recipe and, as always, please let me know what you think in the comments below!
Grilled Kale Caesar
INGREDIENTS: (serves 2)
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic – formed to a paste
3 anchovy filets packed in olive oil – formed to a paste
1.5 tsp dijon mustard – Paleo and Whole30 compliant
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil – plus extra for scallops
2-3 cashews – grated for garnish
Avocado oil – approx. 1 tbsp
salt and pepper to taste
for the Caesar dressing:
- To a large bowl, add egg yolk, mustard, garlic paste, anchovy paste, a pinch of salt and lemon juice. Whisk until combined.
- While whisking vigorously, slowly drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil. Exaggerate just how slowly you drizzle in the oil. It should be a painfully-slow drizzle. I’m talking drop-by-drop slow.
- Once all the oil is whisked through and the dressing is emulsified, taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary with salt and as much freshly-cracked black pepper as you can handle.
- Cover dressing and refrigerate until ready to serve.
for the Grilled Kale:
- Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to high heat.
- Rinse and dry kale. Drizzle the stalks with a bit of avocado oil and season with a pinch of sea salt. Massage the kale to evenly distribute the oil and salt.
- Grill kale over direct heat for 30-45 seconds or until the edges are slightly charred. NOTE: Kale burns easily so keep a close eye on it and flip continuously.
- Transfer grilled kale to a cutting board and, using a sharp knife, carefully remove the leaves from the stems.
- Add the grilled kale to a mixing bowl, drizzle the dressing overtop and toss everything to coat. Using a microplane or fine-tooth grater, grate a few cashews overtop for garnish.
- Try serving with grilled chicken, shrimp or scallops.