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A few years ago, kale, a humble, previously-neglected green, muscled its way onto the food scene, proving that vegetables can be just as trendy as indulgences like cupcakes and cronuts. Since then, we've all gulped down kale in innumerable ways: oven-baked chips; shredded raw in zingy salads; even liquefied in our smoothies and juices for a bracing hit of health.
I'm not sick of kale (yet), but I do like to challenge myself to serve it in surprising ways. So when the weather's warm, I turn to one of my favorite pieces of cooking equipment—the grill—which brings smokiness and just a hint of crunch to the kale. Not all varieties of kale will stand up to this application. Curly types are too delicate and will scorch and wilt, but thick, hearty leaves of lacinato kale are perfect for grilling, becoming tender in the middle and crisped at their edges.
To echo the grilled kale's smokiness, as well as add some much-needed richness to the sometimes-ascetic greens, I tossed this salad in a warm, rich bacon vinaigrette that couldn't be simpler to make. I just crisp some bacon in a pan, sauté some sweet shallots in all that lovely rendered bacon fat, then tie it all together with a glug of fresh, tart cider vinegar. Make space among the hamburgers and pork chops: This tasty, delightfully unusual salad deserves its spot on the grill.
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