Charred butternut squash and a lemony garlic dressing remind us how good a kale salad can be
Ten years ago this spring, I had my first raw kale salad, or at least the first one that made me sit up and take notice.
It was at Animal restaurant in Los Angeles, and I was ambivalent about eating there. After all, I was close to dropping the “almost” from my “almost vegetarian” identity and worried that my only options would come with bones attached. Instead, I managed to steer clear of the animal parts and was easily able to focus on some of the most vibrant vegetable dishes I had come across in a restaurant.
At the top of the list was the salad, unassuming on arrival — a giant pile of shredded, dark, glossy greens in a shallow bowl — but transcendent on first bite. The kale was sliced so thin the pile was wonderfully fluffy, grounded by the crunch of breadcrumbs, and lemony, chile-spiked dressing punched through the slight bitterness of the greens. I couldn’t eat it quickly enough.