This salad is the perfect combination of all of my favourite ingredients and flavours… I’m in love. The robust nature of cavolo nero enables it to hold its own against the punchiest of Caesar dressings, and this one’s a beast. It’s perfect for this time of year as the cavolo nero is seasonal, and the salad served warm, for dark and chilly nights. No hard and fast quantities – you get it.
The dressing recipe here will be enough for four people’s salads, but if making for only two, any excess will keep in the fridge for a week, and go with literally everything.
For the salad:
left-over bread of your choice (wholemeal sourdough is bloody fantastic here)
salt & pepper
eggs (1 or 1 ½ per person)
cavolo nero (approx. 5/6 long leaves per person)
grated parmesan (approx. a generous tablespoon per person)
For the dressing:
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon baby capers
3 anchovies (these were whoppers, use more if they are little)
a smidge of raw garlic, crushed to a paste
salt & pepper
150ml tasteless oil of your choice (I like an organic rapeseed oil here)
juice of half a lemon
Preheat the oven to 190°, and in the meantime make the dressing.
Put the egg yolk in a large mixing bowl (preferably a heavy, steady one, which won’t rattle around as you whisk), along with a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, a tablespoon of white wine vinegar, the chopped capers and anchovies, the crushed-to-a-pulp garlic, and the salt & pepper. Have the oil in a measuring jug.
Start whisking the ingredients together well, and as you continue whisking very, very slowly pour in the oil, in a steady and fine stream. Go slower than feels natural! Too fast and the mayonnaise base will split. The mix will thicken as the oil is incorporated.
Whisk in the lemon juice at the end; this should loosen the consistency from a mayonnaise to a that of a thick dressing. Check you are happy with the seasoning.
Cut the bread into chunks roughly 1.5 cm by 1.5 cm. Toss these in a little olive oil, season with salt & pepper, and the stripped leaves of fresh thyme (any dried herbs to hand will also work). Cook at 190° for 5 minutes – they should be crunchy on the exterior but still chewy in the middle, unlike super-dry shop bought croutons.
Boil the eggs to your liking and peel (under a running tap makes for easy peeling!)
Finally prep and cook the cavolo nero. If the central stalks are very thick perhaps remove these. Chop the cavolo nero into roughly 2 cm width strips, across the central stalk. Heat a tablespoon of oil and a tablespoon of water in a pot. When hot, add the chopped cavolo nero and place on the lid enabling it to half steam/half sauté. Season if you wish, remembering that both the croutons and the dressing are fairly salty.
Cook on a medium to high heat for 4 minutes; take the lid off for a final minute allowing excess moisture to steam off. Allow the cavolo nero to cool slightly before dressing and assembling the salad. Remove from the pot with a slotted spoon, minimizing excess water and avoiding soggy salad!
Chop the eggs to your liking and grate the parmesan.
Finally assemble the salad by gently mixing all the ingredients together. A final drizzle of olive oil and a twist of black pepper make a fancy finishing flourish! Hope you like.