It looked like the makings of dinner at a yoga retreat. There was a sheet pan filled with cherry tomatoes, glistening with olive oil, dusted in lime zest, showered in salt and pepper. Beside it, another pan: a soy-drizzled mound of ripped kale and dried shaved coconut. There were the ingredients for a dressing as well: miso paste from Japan; tahini from the Levant; local honey; a knob of ginger; a bright red pepper. All of this was very beautiful. But I didn’t see how it was going to come together.
It did. Those tomatoes were roasted, along with the kale, and they converged under the dressing to create an excellent, powerfully flavorful dish — exactly the sort of salad to raise a dinner party or family meal high. You could serve it as a starter course, in advance of some grains, or soup, or a roast. On a weekend, it could be a terrific lunch. You may want to make it all the time. (I do.)
The recipe comes from Anna Jones, a British food stylist who worked for Jamie Oliver before striking out on her own. It appears in her first cookbook, “A Modern Way to Eat,” a collection of recipes that, if you spend as much time as I do snooping around people’s kitchens, seems to be shaping up as a kind of new-era “Silver Palate Cookbook.” (This salad could be Jones’s chicken Marbella.)
“When I write a recipe or cobble something together for dinner,” Jones writes in the book’s introduction, “I always have three things in the back of my mind that shape my cooking: How will this taste? How can I make it more interesting to eat by layering up the textures? And how can I make it look the most beautiful on the plate?”
These are good questions, in their way. Of course the first is what the entrepreneurial class calls table stakes; your cooking had better taste good. And the third is perhaps more a symptom of a world obsessed with photographic documentation than one concerned with deliciousness. But Jones’s second question is vitally important, particularly in salads, where the layering of textures is what differentiates the great from the merely good. You want crisp and yielding, slick and crunchy and soft, all at once.
So I roasted the tomatoes until they were almost but not quite melting. The heat concentrated their flavor, and the lime accented it beautifully. The kale joined them in the oven for the last 10 minutes or so. Cooked without oil, the greens went soft in parts and crunchy in others, and the soy and coconut bracketed their pure mineral intensity. For the dressing, I whipped together the ginger, miso, tahini, honey, olive oil, lime juice and chopped hot pepper to create a mixture far thicker than vinaigrette — one that lent itself better to drizzling over the bowl than using as something to slick every green. It is dressing as paint, perhaps, both creamy and bold. (You can thin it out a little with extra lime juice.)
The combination — the layering up, in Jones’s phrase – is sublime. You could certainly toss everything together, but I think the dish works better as a kind of tableau: the greens assembled across the bottom of a bowl or platter, with the tomatoes dotted across them along with the strips of shaved coconut, and the whole thing dressed simply, without tossing, the miso-tahini mixture added as you might apply pieces of mozzarella to a pizza. People will mix everything together on their own, on their own plates, as they eat.
Regardless, and pleasantly, there is no need to rush the preparation. You can assemble the recipe serially, slowly. The greens and the tomatoes come out of the oven hot. They can be served merely warm, and indeed should be. “I know that food cooked with calmness and a little grace,” Jones told The Guardian a few weeks ago, “tastes, to me, a little better than when I’m running around doing 10 million different things.” Which is true as north, though generally hard to achieve. Here is a chance now. Take it.
12 ounces cherry tomatoes, approximately 1 pint basket
3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
2 to 3 limes, well scrubbed if waxed
12 ounces green or purple kale, approximately 2 heads, lower stalks removed and leaves torn into pieces
¼ cup unsweetened dehydrated shaved coconut
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 inch fresh ginger root, peeled and grated, approximately 1 tablespoon
1 tablespoon white miso paste
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon honey
1 red serrano or jalapeño pepper, finely chopped
Step 1Heat oven to 425. Rinse the tomatoes well, dry with paper towels and cut them in half, then place on a sheet pan. Dress with 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, pepper, the zest of 2 limes and the juice of 1 of them. Roast the tomatoes until just blistered and beginning to take on color, approximately 15 to 20 minutes.
Step 2Meanwhile, mix together the kale, coconut shavings and soy sauce, and place on another sheet pan. Roast these in the oven next to or below the tomatoes for approximately 5 to 10 minutes, or until the kale has begun to crisp at its edges.
Step 3Make the dressing in a small bowl, combining the grated ginger root, the miso, the tahini, the honey, the pepper, the juice of the second lime and the remaining olive oil. Adjust seasonings to your liking – you may wish to increase the amount of lime juice with a third lime, to thin the dressing.
Step 4Put the tomatoes and kale into a large serving bowl, and drizzle the dressing over the top, a few tablespoons at a time; you may not need all the dressing if the tomatoes are particularly juicy. Serve warm.
SOURCE : nytimes.com By