The trouble with pine nuts is that they're nearly impossible to toast consistently (and of course, they taste so much better roasted than raw). Each time I've browned a batch, I've tried a new "technique" – on a Silpat in the oven on low heat, over low flames in a skillet, in a toaster oven – but no matter what I've done, half of them are always bitterly charred, and I have to pick my way through the batch one precious seed at a time. In this third recipe of our weekly video series, I've finally learned a solution to The Pine Nut Problem. You can cook them in frothy butter, risotto style, stirring continuously for just a few moments until they're perfectly golden… and, conveniently and deliciously, coated in butter.
I love any type of hearty green paired lavishly with bacon, and the sweet kiss of golden raisins and perfectly toasted pine nuts make for fabulous eating. If you're not excited about kale, try this dish with earthy beet greens, bitter dandelion greens, or peppery radish tops. – Jennifer Pelka
Warm Kale Salad with Brown Butter Pine Nuts, Smoked Bacon, Golden Raisins and Parmesan
by Ithai Schori
2 large bunches of kale, thoroughly washed and dried
Olive oil, as needed
Salt and pepper to taste
1 shallot, peeled and finely diced
¼ cup dry white wine
¼ cup water
A few knobs of butter
A handful of pine nuts
4 strips of thick-cut smoky bacon
A handful of golden raisins
Parmesan cheese, broken by hand into small chunks, to taste
Remove the thick stems from each leaf of kale, and cut the leaves into large but manageable pieces, about 2-3 inches long.
In a pan over high heat with olive oil, cook kale until lightly softened and bright green, but still crunchy. Salt to taste. Transfer cooked kale to a bowl and allow to cool. (You'll want to cook the kale in small batches to avoid crowding, and use fresh oil for each new batch. Wipe the pan between each batch to avoid flavoring your kale with burnt oil.)
Over low heat, sweat the shallots with olive oil until translucent. Season with a bit of salt. Cover the shallots with the wine and water. Bring to a boil and then immediately turn the heat down to a slow simmer. Reduce until the liquid has almost but not quite evaporated. Pour the shallots over the cooked kale and allow to cool.
For the pine nuts, place a good amount of butter in a pan over medium-high heat. When the butter becomes frothy, add the pine nuts. Cook as though this were a risotto, stirring constantly. This technique mimics a shallow fry and cooks the pine nuts evenly. Once they have become almost golden, transfer to a paper towel-lined dish to drain and cool. They will continue cooking from the residual heat, so be sure to pull them off earlier than you might initially think. Add to kale.
Cut the bacon into bite size pieces. Slowly render over low heat until crispy. Transfer to a paper towel-lined dish to drain. Add to kale.
Add golden raisins and lemon juice to taste to kale, and toss all to combine.