But put me in the kitchen with some raw flesh and a recipe, and it turns out I'm still a vegetarian.
As in, ick. As in, please don't make me touch it. As in, pretend this isn't really happening. As in, I now have PTSD.
So, while I would like tell you how to make White Bean and Sausage Stew...no, I wouldn't, actually. I'd much rather talk about kale.
RAW KALE, bitches: the perfect antidote to sausage-related traumas.
Are you nervous? Don't be! While I won't go so far as to say this dish is delicate, it's not the chewy, fibrous mouthful you're imagining. It's a salad, made with hearty greens, which are marinated in a slurry of bright, savory dressing, and sprinkled liberally with homemade breadcrumbs. It's really, really good. As in, delicious.
The recipe comes from the new cookbook of Melissa Clark, who writes for the New York Times along with my ex-boyfriend Mark Bittman (that's right, we're over). I've had such good luck with her recipes from the Times (this soup of hers is one of my all-time favorites), I bought her cookbook and have now fallen big time for her Raw Tuscan Kale Salad With Chiles and Pecorino.
A few notes:
* When I say "kale," in any context, I am always talking about lacinato (also called Tuscan, black, and dinosaur) kale, which is far more tender and tasty than the super-curly variety often used as a garnish at chain restaurants. Confusing the two here would be a disaster.
* I'd like to take this opportunity to recommend the Farmer's Bread from Bread and Butter Farm (Vermonters: It's available at the Burlington Farmers Market [winter and summer], as well as at Bread and Butter's farm store in Shelburne). I used it here for the breadcrumbs, but it's wonderful sliced and spread with butter, and it makes the perfect piece of toast. Or even better, toast topped with a soft-boiled egg.
You actually don't need fancy bread for your breadcrumbs, though it certainly won't hurt. Also, for crumbs slice your bread more thinly than the pieces pictured here.
* The original version of the recipe recommends letting the salad sit for five minutes before serving; I think it should hang out for 15 to 20, at least. It just gets better with time.
Raw Tuscan Kale Salad Without Sausage
adapted from In the Kitchen With a Good Appetite by Melissa Clark
1 bunch Tuscan kale
2 thin slices country bread (preferably part whole wheat, rye, or sour dough)
½ garlic clove, minced
¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus a pinch
¼ cup finely grated pecorino cheese, plus additional for garnish
3 tablespoons evoo, pluse additional for garnish
Juice of 1 lemon
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Remove the stems and center ribs from the kale, leaving just the leaves. Slice the leaves into thin ribbons and place in a large bowl.
2. Toast the bread until golden on both sides. Tear it into small pieces and grind in a food processor until a mixture forms of coarse crumbs. Retoast the crumbs on a baking sheet in your toaster or oven if they're not crunchy enough.
3. Using a mortar and pestle or heavy knife, pound the garlic and ¼ teaspoon salt into a paste (if using a knife, use the side to smear and smush the garlic). Transfer the garlic to a small bowl and add ¼ cup cheese, 3 tablespoons oil, lemon juice, pinch of salt, pepper flakes, and black pepper, and whisk to combine.
4. Pour the dressing over the kale and toss very well to combine thoroughly (the dressing will be thick and need lots of tossing to coat the leaves; don't be afraid to use your hands). Let the salad sit for 15-30 minutes, then serve topped with a liberal amount of bread crumbs, additional cheese, and a drizzle of oil.