The Tuscan Kale Salad is one of the most popular dishes at True Food Kitchen, a Phoenix, Ariz. restaurant based on the nutrition insights of Andrew Weil, M.D. Here, on the restaurant’s patio, Dr. Weil and chef Michael Stebner demonstrate how to make it. Stebner also explains some of the unique features that have made True Food Kitchen one of the most popular restaurants in the Phoenix area.
See all of Dr. Weil’s videos here.
Video Transcript: How to Make Tuscan Kale Salad
What we’re serving here is good. You can eat every day and that’s so uncommon in the restaurant business. Most of the time, you go to a restaurant and you walk out and sort of feel like maybe you took a couple years of your life. Here, the comment that I get more than anything is, I feel like I just exercised, I feel great, and that’s what I think keeps people coming back, everything every day. And this all conforms to the principles of the anti-inflammatory diet and this dish that we’re going to make you. Certainly kale was one of the richest sources of vitamins, minerals, iron, and calcium.
This is a variety of kale called the Tuscan black kale, lacinato kale; Cavolo nero is the Italian name, dinosaur kale sometimes. It’s my favorite kale. I have a bunch of this in my garden and it’s getting near the end of its season as it gets hot. One of the tricks to this is to remove the tough stalks and then this is shredded. I don’t have any black pepper, could you get me a little? Great and the trick with this is that this is going to be, it will have a dressing over it of Lucini extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and a grated Parmesan cheese. I use a sheep cheese in it, but we find Parmesan is sort of more generally acceptable here. And the trick is to let this sit for at least five minutes, better 10 minutes or so, and that removes the bitterness and toughness of kale and completely changes it.
And one of the nice things about this, it keeps. You can keep this. I make a big batch of this and it will keep for several days in the refrigerator and is as good. It doesn’t wilt like the like lettuce. Great, so I’m first going to toss this with wonderful Lucini extra virgin olive oil, okay, black pepper, red pepper. Should I use all of that? Is that the amount? Yeah we can adjust at the end. Ok salt; yes a little lemon juice in here. Let’s toss and we’ll taste. Let me put the garlic in. And fresh garlic. It’s kind of like a tender cole slaw, Italian cole slaw.
We get a lot of people to come to the restaurant and eat this dish, like three or four days a week and they always ask me, because we give the recipe away. And we have little cards and we give it away. And they always say, you know I tried to make the kale salad at home and it just wasn’t the same. And the first thing I always ask them is; what kind of olive oil are you using? Because you really, with something this simple, you have to start with the best ingredients. You have to start with really fresh kale and you have to have really good quality olive oil, real Parmigiana. Take the rest of that. Nowadays, especially farmers markets, Whole Foods, Sprouts you know, the grocery stores that have the better ingredients for sure and this variety of kale, which was rare in The US is now common. And you can get organic kale and I strongly recommend getting organic kale. Pardon me.
In a week, well we get it in cases with 20 bunches, so this is about three bunches and we go through about 45 cases a week. We use a local farm here in Phoenix called McClendon Farms, who grow our kale in season. And they participate in a few farmers’ markets here in the valley and Bob McClendon, the owner, was talking to me the other day and he said that he would always bring three or four bunches of kale to take to the market. Until True Food opened and now he goes through ten to fifteen cases because people come and say I want the kale from True Food. You know we designed this menu. You know there are a lot of vegetarian items on the menu. Their menu is definitely vegetable-driven. It’s driven by the produce, the seasonality, and the fresh produce. Then whatever dish that we’re cooking.
So what ended up happening is there’s like this shift between meat and fish and dairy and produce. We are about 65 percent produce here, whereas in most restaurants its exact opposite is true. So we didn’t make this big bowl of kale for nothing, you guys are going to try this now. Okay, but this is, I mean, fantastic and people get addicted to this stuff. This variety of kale, most kale comes from Scotland or Russia, and it can even grow through heavy frost. It gets sweeter with frost. This variety from Italy is more heat tolerant.
You should all help yourselves.