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Kale and Beetroot Salad with Chestnuts, Pecans, and Pickled Mustard Seeds

A crunchy, earthy salad I like to serve with omelettes, quesadillas, or patties of all sort. It is basically an assembly recipe where the secret, as in almost any assembly salad, is in the dressing. Stick to the right proportions and you have a winner.

This dressing is a mustard, mirin and balsamic vinaigrette, but of course a simple vinaigrette will also be delicious. The key to all vinaigrettes is to keep the ratio of acid to oil, 1 volume to at least 3. The right process is to first dilute the mustard, or other emulsifier, into the acidic medium (which can be any kind of vinegar, or citrus juice, or a combination of the two), and then add 3 times the volume olive oil.

So, for this recipe, in a glass jar, or any container with a lid, use the following proportions:

  • Mustard of your choice, 1 tsp

  • Mirin, 1 tsp

  • Balsamic Vinegar, 2 tsp

  • Salt, 1/4 tsp

Stir with a spoon, to facilitate the mixing, then pour the lid on and shake well. Add:

  • Olive Oil, 6 tsp - 8 tsp

Start with 6. Close lid and shake well to get a proper emulsion. Taste, check the salt and the acidity (the level of which will depend on many things, the vinegar, the mustard, and of course your own taste buds) and adjust. Keep in mind, the acidity will fade as soon as it mingles with the vegetables, so you want to be able to feel it enough when it is still in the jar.

In a bowl mix in your preferred quantities (do you want this to be more of a kale salad, a beetroot salad or an equal mingle?)

  • Kale leaves, stem removed and thinly cut

  • Beetroot, cooked and grated

Pour over some of the dressing and mix well with your hands. Let it sit for 10 minutes. This will slightly soften the kale leaves which is a good thing, because they can be too hard (personally this is one of the things I love about kale salads, but not everybody does).

Add, to your preference:

  • Chestnuts, boiled and coarcely passed with a knife on a cutting board

  • Pecans, crushed

  • Pickled mustard seeds (I always have a jar in my pantry, this is the recipe I follow)

Dress generously just before serving.

If you want some dairy here I would recommend a soft, white, cheese such as slightly acidic ricotta brand (for Greeks, Katiki or Xinomyzithra).


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