Thursday, February 21, 2013

Kale & Poached Egg Salad with Pan Roasted Tomatoes, Crispy Shallots,Bacon, & Dijon Mustard Vinaigrette

I've got a case of the winter skin blues. Being a redhead, my skin has always been sensitive, but having a high acid count in my body hasn't helped matters at all. I can blame my inflamed and red skin on the wools and cashmeres that shield me from the cold throughout the winter months, and yes, they do play a role in my skin irritations, but I know that much of my skin troubles are a direct result of my diet. During the winter my acid count increases dramatically as I happily indulge in all the foods that make comfort food so damn comforting, but unfortunately result in an acidity hike in my body. Foods such as white flours, beef, butter, pork, peanut butter, sugar, alcohol, fried foods, caffein, the list could go on and on, these are just some of the many delicious and comforting foods and beverages that have an acidifying affect in the body. I've never been good at eliminating foods from my diet, and quite frankly, I just don't care to, but what I know I should always be doing is balancing out those acidic foods with alkaline heavy foods. After a week of being so incredibly fed up with the bus boy at work constantly pointing out how inflamed my chest looks (which by the way is incredibly rude and inappropriate) I knew it was time to stop blaming my cozy winter clothes and take the matter into my own hands...or stomach. 

I was inspired to make this salad after being attracted to so many images of beautifully presented salads topped with poached eggs on various blogs and websites. My Pinterest boards look as though they have been attacked with these images, as I am consistently drawn to them, pinning pretty much each and every one I come across. I began brainstorming and developing this recipe after going out for a friends birthday dinner last Friday, seeing almost every single person at our large table order the kale salad, and proceed to devour said salad, raving on about how delicious it was. Raw kale delicious? This was news to me.

I had only ever experimented with cooked kale, disguising the bitter flavours and tough texture with herbs, seasonings, oils, and various cooking methods. My experience with raw kale wasn't so fantastic, experiencing those same bitter flavours and tough textures in the few times I ate it. But watching 10 or so people devour a large bowl of raw kale, dressed in simply a light vinaigrette and a few slices of parmesan cheese made me reconsider the notorious "super food". Kale is a super food for many reasons, but the reason that sparked my interest in kale is its extreme alkalizing effect on the body. I was determined to come up with a delicious raw kale recipe! I did some research and quickly learned that the way to achieve tender raw kale is to massage it with olive oil and sea salt. I was shocked to feel with my own hands just how quickly the kale's texture was transformed by the olive oil and sea salt massage. In hardly any time at all, I had a delicious (man was in ever delicious!) and satisfying dinner that I could feel good about putting into my body. This is one recipe I will definitely be making on the regular!

Note: Make this a vegetarian dish by eliminating the bacon.

*Massage your kale with olive oil and sea salt to tenderize the tough kale leaves. You'll be surprised at how quickly they soften up!

**I would recommend using a poach pod as it keeps the egg intact and eliminates the issue of watery eggs.

Serves 2
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp honey
1 1/2 tsp grainy dijon mustard
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic, minced
1/2 cup olive oil
2 drops hot sauce (I use sriracha)
1 bunch fresh kale, washed with leaves torn from the ribs
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 shallot, thinly sliced 
2 slices bacon or pancetta, cut into 1/4 inch slices
2 eggs
1 pinch red pepper flakes
sea salt and olive oil for rubbing kale*

  1. In a small bowl whisk together red wine vinegar, honey, grainy dijon mustard, pepper, garlic, olive oil, and hot sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Set aside. Note that the kale will be rubbed with sea salt and additional olive oil, so season with salt after kale leaves are dressed. 
  2. Roll up kale leaves into a cigar-type shape and chiffonade. Transfer to a bowl and drizzle lightly with olive oil and sea salt. Using clean fingertips, massage the kale for 2-3 minutes, or until leaves feel tender. Set aside.
  3. Add bacon slices to a small cold pan. Turn heat to medium and cook until crisp and brown. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a piece of paper towel to drain, and pour out excess fat in pan, allowing about 1/2 tablespoon to remain. 
  4. Add the shallots to the same pan and cook until golden-brown and just beginning to crisp. Remove and set aside.
  5. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook until skins burst. Turn off heat and set aside.
  6. While tomatoes are cooking, poach the eggs. Either follow the instructions here to poach an egg, or use the method I did, by using a handy poaching pod. If using a poach pod**, bring 1 1/2 inches of water to a rolling boil in a small saucepan. Crack the eggs into lightly oiled poaching pods and carefully place in water to float. Reduce heat to low to allow to simmer and cover tightly. Cook for 4 - 4 1/2 for a soft yolk. 
  7. Dress kale in dijon mustard vinaigrette to taste (do not overdress!) and transfer to serving dish. Scatter over bacon, shallots, and cherry tomatoes. Top with poached eggs and season with more sea salt, fresh cracked pepper, and pinch of red pepper flakes. Serve immediately.
Listening To:
Future Islands - Balance

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