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Grilled Bread and Kale Salad With Red Onions, Walnuts, and Figs, From 'Heart of the Plate'

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This standout salad takes a turn from the ordinary by wilting the kale over heat before serving. [Photograph: Mollie Katzen]

Mollie Katzen assures her readers that she can eat the entire bowlful of this kale and bread salad from her new cookbook, The Heart of the Plate. After eating almost the entire thing myself, I am inclined to believe her. Yes, kale salads have been written, served, and re-worked to death. Adding fruit, red onion, walnuts, and bread isn't terribly revolutionary. But here's what makes this salad stand out—it's not raw. Instead of massaging or marinating the kale to death, Katzen tosses it in a ripping hot skillet to soften the leaves. The red onions are similarly al-dente, and the balsamic takes a turn in the pan as well. Each of these steps makes for a more integrated and interesting final result. Oh, and lemon-marinated figs and olive oil-soaked grilled bread don't hurt either.

Why I picked this recipe: A kale salad isn't exactly new, but Katzen's take is the first I've seen to require this much cooking.

What worked: This is my new go-to kale salad. Each ingredient sings on its own yet come together for in each balanced, delicious bite.

What didn't: No problems at all.

Suggested tweaks: You could fiddle with the fruit if figs aren't in season, using apples, pears, or even grapes instead.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of The Heart of the Plate to give away this week.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, KQED's Bay Area Bites, and Berkeleyside NOSH. Follow her @KateHWiliams.

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