The Musette: kale, bread and lemon vegan salad

I do like to try new recipes, particularly when my beloved is home. I’m encouraging him to eat more of a plant-based diet so when I spotted this recipe in The Guardian newspaper from Meera Sodha, I resolved to give it a go, largely because it’s made from ingredients I always have hanging around in the cupboards and fridge. I first made it during the heatwave in late June and served it at room temperature. It was delicious and with all that kale had to be doing us lots of good.

Ingredients (serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side)

  • 150g (3 cups) kale, big ribs removed, roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp black olive tapenade (home-made or from a jar)
  • 200g (2 cups) stale focaccia or sourdough, cut into 15mm (1/2″) chunks
  • 3 fat garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 large organic lemon, quartered
  • 3 tbsp pine nuts
  • 3 tbsp sultanas or currants
  • 6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
  • 3 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • freshly ground black pepper and sea salt, to taste

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6. Throw the kale and tapenade into a food processor and pulse to smithereens. Taste, add a little more tapenade, if you like, then pulse again to mix.

2. Put the bread chunks in a big bowl with the garlic, lemon wedges, pine nuts and dried fruit. Drizzle over three tbsp olive oil and toss with your hands to coat. Tip out on to a baking tray so it sits in a single layer and roast for 10 minutes, or until the bread and pine nuts are golden – check after five minutes to make sure they’re not burning.

3. While the bread is roasting, finely slice the celery and put it in the bowl with the kale and tapenade mixture.

4. Once the bread is golden, take the tray out of the oven and add everything except the lemon wedges to the bowl – unless, like me, you have asbestos fingers. When they’re cool enough to handle, squeeze the juice from the wedges over the salad, drizzle over three more tablespoons of oil and season to taste.

5. Mix, mix, mix until the bread soaks up all the surrounding flavours. Transfer to plates and drizzle over some more oil and add another wedge of lemon to serve.