Here is the best kale salad recipe - it's as close of a copycat of the Barbuto kale salad as I could ever make. This kale salad is loaded with fluffy greens and salty, garlicky breadcrumbs. It comes together quickly in a food processor and is great in the depths of winter as a side dish.
Background and inspiration of this kale salad recipe
Barbuto was a restaurant in NYC in the West Village that was in a garage-type space. In the summertime, the garage doors would roll up, letting in the warm evening air, and allowing for fantastic people-watching. It was such a great atmosphere. They served a ton of iconic dishes, like roasted chicken with chimichurri, pizzas, and amazing pasta.
The Barbuto kale salad is an iconic salad that really redefined what a kale salad could be. Kale salads are really trite at this point, but I promise this is the *one* and demonstrates that kale salad is a classic for a reason. All other kale salads should pack up and go home.
It has so few ingredients, you really have nowhere to hide--so take your time and do this correctly. it's tender, crunchy, anchovy-y, garlicky, and lemony; since it's all chopped so finely, you can almost eat it with a spoon. (and no you can't skip the anchovy.)
I love my Cuisinart to chop up all the ingredients for this salad super quickly!
Pro-tips to make a really good salad with breadcrumbs and parmesan
A note on kale types: there are three types of kale, and most kale salads call for lacinato (also called Tuscan kale or cavolo nero), since it's the sweetest, has the flattest leaves, and is the more tender of the three types. Curly kale is very curly (duh), and more bitter. Russian kale is purple and in between lacinato and curly on the curly spectrum. I actually have been preferring curly kale lately (?!) and find that a quick whiz in the food processor gets curly kale to the right scale for optimal salad-ing.
You can also not do the final drizzle of olive oil, and the salad will keep in the fridge for the few days, because of how hardy kale is.
Frequently asked questions
Do I have to use kale?
- Yes, otherwise it's not a kale salad!
What if I do not have pecorino romano, can I use parmesan?
- Sure - it will be a little less funky, and more salty.
How do I store this and how long does it last?
- Store in the fridge in a sealed Tupperware. Salads do not last very long - I give this 1 to 2 days after you make it, to eat it.
For more salad recipes, check out my salad archives!
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Barbuto kale salad
- 1 bunch of curly kale
- ¼ cup finely blitzed Pecorino Romano cheese
- 1 lemon
- extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon chili flakes
- Your choice of how much breadcrumbs per person but estimate ½-1 cup total
- 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
- 3 anchovy fillets minced
- olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- salt and pepper
Anchovy bread crumbs
- Take half a loaf of bread, cut in cubes, and blitz in the food processor until fine. then, take 1 cup of the fresh breadcrumbs and toast in a skillet first dry, to get the bread dried out. Then add the finely minced garlic and minced anchovies, and stir to combine. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper and stir to combine; toast until brown. save the leftovers 🙂
- Strip the kale from its ribs and loosely chop. in the food processor, in batches, whiz and process until fine but not liquidy or even salsa-verde fine -- a few pulses. see the close-up pic above for the texture you're going for. it took me about 4 batches to get through 1 head of kale.
- Grate (or pulse in the food processor, since it's set up) the pecorino romano.
- Combine the kale, breadcrumbs, pecorino in a bowl; season to taste with the red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. then, drizzle with lemon juice. Finish with a little drizzle of olive oil, just enough to combine the flavors, nothing more. Taste and adjust any last seasonings, and serve.