With roots going back to the Viking age – and beyond – cruciferous vegetables make a perfect foundation for Nordic salads, like this kale salad with lemon from Outside Oslo’s Daytona Strong
When it comes to cooking according to the seasons, the ingredients and cuisines of the winter months have historically excited me less than the vibrant, fresh, and flavorful foods of spring and summer. But that began to change when I tasted my first raw kale salad and discovered how kale—a cool-weather winter crop—provides a fresh yet hearty contrast to the rich stews and braises often found simmering on stovetops this time the year.
Despite falling into fashion in recent years as an ideal medium for winter salads, kale has a history dating back over 2,000 years. The hardiness and ability to stand up to cold northern climates made cabbage—of which kale is related—a key crop in the Viking days; in fact, Camilla Plum, writing in her book “The Scandinavian Kitchen,” claims it was the only vegetable grown in the Viking age, and that kitchen gardens were called kale-yards. Such vegetables have stood the test of time. Today, kale is celebrated as a health-food star, providing a wealth of nutrients while being low in calories.
I love how the sturdy and slightly bitter leaves stand up well to a variety of flavors and always create a hearty salad that’s both nutritious and delicious. One of my favorite ways to eat it is dressed with a simple lemon and olive oil dressing and tossed with a generous handful of slivered almonds and semi-hard Nordic cheese, such as Norvegia. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do.
Kale Salad with Lemon, Almonds, and Nordic Cheese
7-8 ounces (10-12 cups) kale leaves, stalk removed and leaves torn into bite-size pieces
Juice of 1 large lemon (5 tablespoons)
4 tablespoons good-quality extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Pepper to taste
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 cup semi-hard Norwegian cheese such as Norvegia, grated
Note: For this salad, feel free to use any hard or semi-hard Norwegian cheese, such as Norvegia. You’ll find it easier to grate such cheeses if they’re really cold.
Place kale leaves in a large salad bowl. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper until emulsified. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Add dressing to the kale and toss to combine. Add most of the almonds and cheese and gently toss a little more until all ingredients are combined. Top with remaining almonds and cheese.
Daytona Strong is the voice of Outside Oslo, a blog exploring her Norwegian heritage and love of great food. She is the newest contributor to the Norwegian American Weekly. Check out her blog here!
This article originally appeared in the Feb. 15, 2014 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.