I ate the best bread salad of my life at Zuni Cafe in San Francisco in 2015, came back home and regularly ate a variation on it for at least a year afterwards.
Over time, those variations became bolder and wilder, until just a faint shadow of the original existed. Hence today’s recipe, which adopts the currants, olive oil, pine nuts and bread of the prototype, but is in every other way different.
Still, if we have anything to learn from all this, it is that where there is travel, there is inspiration, and where there is bread, make bread salad.
Bread salad with kale, pine nuts and roasted lemon
Prep 10 min
Cook 20 min
Serves 4 as a starter or side dish
150g kale, big ribs removed, roughly chopped
3 tbsp black olive tapenade – I like Belazu’s
200g focaccia, cut into 15mm x 15mm chunks
3 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 lemon, quartered into four wedges
3 tbsp pine nuts
3 tbsp currants
6 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to serve
3 sticks celery
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.
Put the bread chunks in a big bowl with the garlic, lemon wedges, pine nuts and currants. Drizzle over three tablespoons of oil and toss with your hands to coat. Tip out on to a baking tray so it sits in a single layer (keep the bowl to one side) and roast for 10 minutes, until the bread and pine nuts are golden – check after five minutes to make sure they’re not burning.
While the bread is roasting, finely slice the celery and put it in the reserved bowl with the kale and tapenade mixture.
Once the bread is golden, take the tray out of the oven and add everything except the lemon wedges to the bowl. When they’re cool enough to handle, squeeze the juice from two of the wedges over the salad, drizzle over three more tablespoons of oil and add a half teaspoon of salt, or to taste. Mix, mix, mix with your hands, until the bread soaks up some of the surrounding flavours, then taste again, adding a little more roast lemon juice or salt, if you like. Transfer to plates and drizzle over some more oil to serve.