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Raw Tuscan kale salad with pine nuts, currants and parmesan

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 I knew I’d be making this salad from the name alone. Tuscan Kale salad with pine nuts, currants and parmesan.  All the flavors that make my taste buds sing: nutty, sweet and salty with a bit of crunch from the crisp raw kale.  This salad delivers it all and then some.  This is the kind of salad you find on restaurant menus. The kind of salad that leaves you wondering how the chef took something as simple as a salad and then turned into something delicious and wonderful.  A salad you’d think you would never be able to make at home.  Well you can and you will. 
This is a clean fresh tasting salad that you’d think more appropriate for cool summer months.  The presence of raw kale makes it substantial enough to carry you through winter, whether eaten alone or with roast chicken or beef.  Lightly dressed with a sweet vinaigrette, the bitterness of the raw greens are tamed a bit but don’t lose their characteristic taste.  Give yourself some time and make it a few hours ahead, you won’t be sorry. 
Although I am not a salad in winter kind of person, this one has made me change my mind.  I had the good fortune of finding all the hard to find ingredients in one location so this will make it that much easier for me to make this over and over again. 

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 Don’t let the words  “hard to find ingredients”  scare you.  Because a salad is such a simple thing they benefit greatly when the best quality ingredients you can find and afford are used.  I found the golden balsamic vinegar, the rice wine and the Tuscan Kale (sometimes called Lacinato, dinosaur or black kale) all at my local health food grocer.  Don’t worry about waste, the rice wine can be used in other recipes and now that I’ve  tasted golden balsamic vinegar I’ll be using it a lot more.   Sometimes good things cost a little bit more.  Trust me when I say once you’ve made this salad you will make it again and again.

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 Raw Tuscan Kale Salad with pine nuts, Currants and Parmesan 
  • 2 tablespoons dried currants
  • 7 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 bunches Tuscan kale (about 1 pound), center ribs and stems removed, leaves thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • Parmesan cheese shavings
Place currants in small bowl; add 5 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar. Let soak overnight. Drain currants. You can also microwave the currants in a bowl with the vinegar for 25 seconds if you want to make the salad the same day. I also mixed in unsoaked currants with the salad for more texture.
Whisk remaining 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar, rice vinegar, honey, oil, and salt in large bowl. Add kale, currants, and pine nuts; toss to coat. Let marinate 20 minutes at room temperature, tossing occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle cheese shavings over salad and serve.
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