As a pastor, I tend to get incredibly busy around Christmas & therefore leave much of the cooking to Jeannene. Pre-pastorate, there would be cookies & quiches (I did make a ham & cheese and a spinach & feta quiche for Christmas Eve staff dinner this year), a Nochebuena feast, and all kinds of other delights. Now, when my cousin Nova asked me to bring a side and a dessert to the family Christmas Eve dinner, I immediately agreed and then thought, "Oh, no! What have I done?" Luckily, Robyn brought an amazing raw kale salad to Family@5 in the fall. It was one of the best things I've ever eaten and I told her so. She said, "Oh, it's easy" & told me to Google "Tuscan kale salad." I found a good prospect on Epicurious. So, I seized on that, adapted for my love of garlic & lemon, for my side and cheated with a wedge of brie and a plate of Whole Foods chocolate truffles for the dessert. The salad was fab, so I made another to go with our prime rib & mashed potatoes on Christmas Day. The leftovers (there were no leftovers Christmas Eve, I might note, and I was asked multiple times for the recipe) became a spectacular soup with the addition of 64 oz. of chicken broth and a pound of spicy Bob Evans sausage I browned. Just throw together, bring to a boil, and simmer 20-30 minutes.
Christmas Kale Salad
1 bunch Tuscan kale, such as lacinato or black kale
A bag of garlic croutons, bashed to bits
3-4 cloves garlic, peeled (less if it offends you)
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
A pinch of Maldon sea salt or other finishing salt
A handful of shaved Parmesan (use the good stuff!)
3 tbsp. or so olive oil (again, the good stuff)
Juice of 2 lemons (less if tart is not your favorite)
1/8 tsp. or so crushed red pepper
Make sure kale is dry. Remove tough stems from kale and slice into thin ribbons. Pound garlic into paste with kosher salt (a mortar & pestle is ideal for this). Mix everything together but kale, crouton bits, Maldon salt, and Parmesan. Toss with kale. Let stand 5 minutes-3 hours. Sprinkle with crouton bits, Maldon salt, parmesan. Add a drizzle of extra olive oil, if it needs it.