Kale salad with pecorino, dates and pine nuts

This has been my first real experience of writer’s block. As soon as I made this salad I wanted to put it up on the blog because withholding it from the world felt mean. Without being superlative about it, it’s the best kale salad ever, EVER. And because I love it so much I had no idea how to write this post. It’s like when you have to write a thank you letter and all you want to say is “OMFG! I had the MOST incredible time!!! You were SOOOOOOOO sweet to think of X and I have no idea how I will ever be worthy of you and you’re so amazing. I love you. I’m sorry. I know that’s inappropriate… God this is awkward. Love, Ali” And instead you tell yourself to reign it in and you end up writing, “This is just a quick note to say thank you for a truly amazing time this weekend. I particularly enjoyed X, and Y was just perfect! It was especially lovely to see you after so long and I would love a rematch of badminton/ snooker/ bridge soon! Yours sincerely, Ali Stopford”. The blog version of the latter thank you note would probably say something like; “The bitterness of the kale is really offset by the smoky sweetness of the dates and pine nuts while the pecorino adds a rounded note and a welcome saltiness.” That blog version would also tell you that discarding all the hard stems and then really massaging the lemon, oil and salt into the leaves is the most important part of this recipe, closely followed by the mandatory hour in the fridge, which makes the leaves less hard and chewy and more wonderful and perfect. I suppose that blog version is actually quite useful, so I’ll continue. I used cavolo nero (aka Italian kale – I have a few US visitors) which isn’t curly and is a little softer but normal kale will work just as well but you must massage and chill. Also, if you can’t find dates and pecorino then I suppose you could theoretically substitute them for raisins and parmesan but the magic of the BEST SALAD EVER will be lost and it will just end up being a good-ish salad. Anyway, do try this recipe it’s completely wonderful and let me know what you think!


Ingredients (serves 1)

150g kale/cavolo nero

10g pecorino

10g pine nuts

4 dates

1 big squeeze of lemon

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 large pinch sea salt

kale cigar


  • Remove the stalks from the kale and chiffonade the leaves. The easiest way to do this is to roll the leaves up into cigar shapes and then cut vertically across in very small intervals. (picture above)
  • Put the kale in a mixing bowl and add in the olive oil and salt. Massage the kale vigorously, I sometimes scrunch it up in my fists, don’t be delicate about it! The kale should reduce in size. Chill in the fridge for an hour.
  • Meanwhile, chop the dates. I quarter them lengthways then quarter the quarters.
  • Shave the pecorino into large pretty curls.
  • Then just before serving, put a pan over a medium flame. When hot, add the pine nuts, shake them regularly to get an even golden brown on all sides. When the pine nuts are evenly golden (about 30 seconds), remove from the pan and assemble your perfect kale salad.




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