This is a compromise salad -- an edible peace offering if you will. If, like me, you live in a house divided between a comfort food eater and a healthy eater, this is the happy medium. This Kale-Apple Salad with Maple-Walnut Dressingcombines one part my love for salad, two parts both of our love for pork, and it now lives happily in our date night recipe rotation. So, yes, it is a compromise but it's a compromise we both find very delicious.
finely chopped and divided
small dice (optional)
trimmed, stems discarded, and leaves finely shredded (about 6 cups)
thinly sliced and ends trimmed and discarded
quartered, cored, and thinly sliced
For the dressing: Combine 1/2 cup of the walnuts, the vinegar, maple syrup, pancetta drippings or 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and the Dijon mustard in a mini food processor or blender with 2 tablespoons of water, a pinch of salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Blend until smooth and add an additional 1 to 2 tablespoons water to thin out the dressing as desired. Dip some kale into the dressing then taste and adjust flavoring, adding more salt, pepper, or syrup as desired.
Use the pancetta drippings for the dressing if you want a smokier dressing flavor; otherwise, use olive oil. The dressing can be made up to 2 days ahead of time and stored refrigerated in an airtight container.
For the salad: Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat and add the pancetta. Cook stirring frequently, until the pancetta is browned and crisp, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove pancetta to a paper-towel lined plate and set aside to drain.
To make dicing the pancetta easier, place the pancetta in the freezer until thoroughly chilled, about 10 to 15 minutes and then use a serrated knife to cut it.
Remove all but 1 1/2 tablespoons drippings from the pan and reserve for another use (like the dressing above). Add the lemon juice to the drippings in the pan, scrape the bottom of the pan to collect any browned bits, then pour into a large bowl (if not using the pancetta, just add the lemon juice to the apples and proceed). Add the apples, kale, endive and toss to coat. Mound the salad on plates, garnish with the currants, remaining 1/4 cup walnuts, and pancetta, drizzle with dressing, and serve.
Food styling by Aida Mollenkamp // Photography by Christopher Kalima