Kale Salad with Ricotta Salata, Pine Nuts and Anchovies

by Matt on November 12, 2013


Historically, there are a few things you will never see me turn down:

1) A glass of champagne.

2) A ripe juicy heirloom tomato during summer.

3) Anchovies or Sardines, In Any Format, Any Time Of The Year, No Matter Where

About number three, yep, it’s true. My lifelong love affair with those salty, powerfully fishy flavors of the sea no doubt originated with my dad, who was happy to keep tins of sardines in the house, and when I think back we kids must’ve been a sight to see, eagerly inhaling sardines in mustard or sardines in olive oil with crackers, toast, or just by themselves. As an adult I was happy to learn that there’s actually a whole world of variety when it comes to anchovies and sardines (two completely separate fish), but it’s a group I’m quick to lump together just because, well, they belong in THAT category. To me, at least.

If they’re on a menu — FRESH — forgettuaboutit. If I’m in Spain, they will be consumed daily. If they’re layered on a pizza (we’re talking anchovies here), I’m in. And my eyes eagerly seek the fine print of menus for the “Our Caesar Is Made With Anchovies, Please Inform Your Server If”, which, of course, I never seem to finish that last sentence.  I am so down.

Then there’s the matter of a few weeks ago when the lovely Melissa Clark professed her fishlove in the NYTimes. And it was her recipe of Anchovy Toast that has been a regular dinner for me lately. Thank you, Melissa!

Anyway, stay with me here. I promise I’ll make a point.

Book-CoverWhen my friends at Food & Wine sent me a copy of Best New Chefs All-Star Cookbook I knew I’d hit the jackpot with amazing recipes. The only problem was, well, where do I start? A random flipping through the pages took me to Nancy Silverton’s Kale Salad with Ricotta Salata, Pine Nuts and Anchovies and my mind was instantly made up for me. I’ve given kale a slight ribbing lately (see my quick story about it over at Food & Wine), but this time around I was earnest, eager and ready. Why? Because of those fantastic alici,  the vinegary pickly white anchovies that rock my world a few times over. Slightly milder and fresher in flavor than the salt-packed variety, they always lend a sweet, tangy taste to dishes and salads. And this is a full-flavored salad that boldly satisfies. And because it’s Nancy. Who doesn’t love her?

Oh, and about the book? It’s a treasure. It’s filled with 25 years’ worth of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs, highlighting recipes from each year. I went for 1990, and I’m pretty sure you’ll love this and the book, too.

Kale Salad with Ricotta Salata, Pine Nuts and Anchovies

1/4 cup pine nuts

1 small shallot, minced

Finely grated zest from 1 lemon

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon Champagne or white wine vinegar

1 garlic clove, grated

Pinch of crushed red pepper

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 ounces ricotta salata cheese, coarsely grated (3/4 cup)

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 bunch kale, preferably Tuscan (6 ounces)—stemmed, leaves torn into bite-size pieces (8 cups)

8 marinated alici (white anchovies), drained


1. In a small skillet, toast the pine nuts over moderately low heat, stirring them frequently, until lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the shallot, lemon zest, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic and crushed red pepper. Whisk in the olive oil until combined. Stir in 1/2 cup of the ricotta salata and season with salt and pepper.

3. In a large bowl, toss the kale with half of the vinaigrette; add more vinaigrette if desired. Transfer half of the kale to a serving platter and scatter with 2 tablespoons of the remaining ricotta salata. Top with 4 anchovies and half of the toasted pine nuts. Repeat with the remaining kale, ricotta salata, anchovies and pine nuts and serve.

Recipe kindly reprinted from the Food & Wine Best New Chefs All-Star Cookbook. Photo by Matt Armendariz for the blog.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Anna@CrunchyCreamySweet November 12, 2013 at 10:22 am

Gorgeous dish! Adding the book to my list!

Sophia @ NY Foodgasm November 12, 2013 at 11:47 am

I love the combination of flavors in this! Such a classic recipe, simple yet complex with flavor!

Brooke November 12, 2013 at 11:50 am

You had me at anchovies, kale, and Nancy Silverton. I can’t wait to make this salad! Thanks for the review and the recipe! xoxox

ddemos November 13, 2013 at 10:18 am

You are missing the most important step in making a great kale salad. You need to “massage” the kale, or as I like to say…”rough it up” . It breaks down the kale to make it more silky and therefore the bitter taste most people find objectionable is gone.

Try it. You’re Welcome :)

Matt November 14, 2013 at 7:12 am

Since this is Nancy’s recipe, I’m not likely to adapt it in my house since it’s perfect as in! But when I make other kale salads (specifically an avocado and kale salad), you better believe I’m gonna massage it. Thank you for the tip!

Betzabeth Taylor November 15, 2013 at 9:44 am

Healthy and delicious! I had it yesterday and I loved it

anna @ annamayeveryday November 16, 2013 at 6:58 am

This salad looks delicious and good call on the champagne, tomatoes and anchovies – I quite agree.

Matt November 16, 2013 at 12:31 pm

Isn’t it the best? I think I need to make it again myself :)

Matt November 16, 2013 at 12:31 pm

I can see you have excellent tastes, Anna :)

Laura November 16, 2013 at 9:35 pm

Can’t wait to try this! I make a similar salad, an attempt to reverse engineer a kale salad from the Clover Club in Brooklyn that has julienned granny smith apple in it – definitely going to try something in between. I think the pine nuts are a genius addition!

Shikha @ Shikha la mode November 18, 2013 at 7:10 pm

Kale! Love it. I’ve never done the kale+anchovy combo but I imagine it is awesome!

Amy November 19, 2013 at 8:14 am

I love kale salads! Had this for lunch today. It’s the best kale salad I’ve tried yet. Thanks for the recipe!

Tuscan olive grove girl November 21, 2013 at 3:31 am

This looks beautiful: I love kale salads. Thank you for sharing the recipe.

Matt November 21, 2013 at 6:48 am

Thank you! It’s really such a magnificent salad :)

Jaclyn December 15, 2013 at 11:51 am

I love the colors in this picture. You are so talented at capturing such gorgeous photos!

Maria @ Foodpix photography January 3, 2014 at 3:24 pm

It looks great! can’t wait to try it
Thanks for sharing

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