Garlic confit vinaigrette turns this kale salad from fine to fabulous

Ellie Krieger

THE WASHINGTON POST – When Chef Dan Kluger touts an ingredient as a game changer, I listen. I’ve admired his culinary talent for years and have been especially wowed by the vegetable dishes at his Greenwich Village restaurant Loring Place.

His outstanding cookbook, Chasing Flavour, written with cookbook writer Nick Fauchald, is peppered with what he calls “takeaways”, techniques for building and balancing the flavour of whatever you may be cooking. In other words, Kluger is spilling his secrets, making the cookbook more than a collection of recipes.

After reading that he considers his garlic confit “the one pantry staple from this cookbook that you should always have in your refrigerator”, I made a beeline to my kitchen to try it. It’s easy to make: You simply simmer peeled garlic cloves and olive oil over a very low heat until the cloves are golden and soft. It takes nearly an hour but the process is pretty hands-off, only needing a little stirring now and then.

True to Kluger’s promise, the result is flavour-magic: The garlic cloves become spreadably creamy and mellow tasting, but also deeply savoury, with a hint of sweetness, while the oil takes on the same intoxicating flavour. You can use the cloves and the oil in myriad way – spread on toast, whirred into a bean dip, stirred into a sauce or slathered onto meat or poultry, to name just a few.

The confit transforms everything it touches with its deep, savoury essence. In Chasing Flavour, it drives the bold taste of this glorious creamy dressing. With a mouthwatering, savoury-sweet-tangy balance, the dressing so good and is such a breeze to make, it’s now officially in regular rotation in my home. It stands up especially well to hearty greens, so I have used it here to dress a simple, but eye-catching, tri-colour kale salad, massaging the dressing into the greens to tenderise them a bit before tossing them with sliced radicchio, fennel and a generous handful of fresh parsley.

The result is so compellingly delicious, it has earned garlic confit a permanent place in my refrigerator.

Shredded kale tri-colour salad with creamy garlic vinaigrette. PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST

GARLIC CONFIT

Active time: 15 minutes; Total time: One hour 15 minutes

24 servings; 24 cloves of garlic and one cup oil, one to two garlic cloves and one tablespoon oil per serving

Once you make garlic confit, you may always opt to keep a jar of it in your pantry for raising the flavour bar for so many dishes. Besides being ideal for amping flavour in dressings and marinades, you can use the confited garlic as well as the oil in a myriad ways – spread on toast, whirred into a bean dip or hummus, stirred into a sauce, or slathered onto meat or poultry, to name a few.

You also can use garlic confit wherever raw or roasted garlic is suggested. If subbing garlic confit for raw garlic, note the flavour may be gentler and not as punchy though just as flavourful.

Storage Notes: Garlic confit can be refrigerated for up to one week and frozen for up to three months. Make sure the cloves are submerged in the oil by at least one inch. Use a clean spoon to scoop the cloves out.

INGREDIENTS

Peeled cloves from two heads garlic (about 24 cloves, see NOTE)

One cup extra-virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS

In a small saucepan, combine the garlic and oil. Set over very low heat and cook until the garlic is golden and soft, 45 minutes to one hour. (The heat should be low enough so that the oil doesn’t bubble much; remove it from the burner periodically as needed, depending on how low your stove settings go.)

Once the garlic is golden and soft, remove from the heat and let cool in the pan to room temperature. Transfer to a clean, lidded jar. The garlic is ready to use, refrigerate until needed.

NOTE: Here are a couple of tricks for quickly peeling a large amount of garlic.

Place a handful of garlic cloves, about eight or so, on a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for eight seconds. The garlic may be hot, so let it cool for a minute,
if needed.

The skins should easily peel off when you press on the stem end of the garlic.

If not, microwave one to two seconds more. Repeat with the remaining cloves.

Alternatively, separate the cloves from the head and place a large batch of cloves in a lidded jar, such as a Mason jar.

Shake vigorously for about 30 seconds or until the skins fall off the cloves. You may still have to peel one or two.

NUTRITION

(per two cloves of garlic and one tablespoon oil) | Calories: 128; Total Fat: 14g; Saturated Fat: 2g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 1mg; Total Carbohydrates: 2g; Dietary Fibre: 0g; Sugar: 0g; Protein: 0g.

SHREDDED KALE TRI-COLOUR SALAD WITH CREAMY GARLIC VINAIGRETTE

15 minutes

Four servings; each serving is about one-and-a-quarter cup of salad and one tablespoon
of dressing

Here, an eye-catching mix of shredded kale, radicchio, fennel and parsley is treated to a boldly tasty, creamy garlic dressing for an unforgettable salad. The dressing gets much of its mouthwatering flavour from cloves of garlic confit – garlic simmered slowly in oil until it is golden and soft – and turns an ordinary salad into something exceptional and unforgettable. You’ll have leftover dressing, which you can use to make more salads or as a dip for a vegetable crudite.

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE VINAIGRETTE

Four cloves Garlic Confit (see related recipe)

Three tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Two tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or oil from the confit

Two tablespoons sherry vinegar

One tablespoon honey

One tablespoon Dijon mustard

Half teaspoon kosher salt

Quarter teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

FOR THE SALAD

Five cups (five ounces) lightly packed, thinly sliced kale leaves (from about half large bunch stemmed kale)

One cup thinly sliced radicchio

One medium fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced

Half cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

DIRECTIONS

Make the vinaigrette: In the pitcher of a blender, combine the garlic confit, lemon juice, oil, vinegar, honey, mustard, salt and pepper and blend until smooth and creamy. You should get about half cup.

Make the salad: Place the kale into a large bowl and add quarter cup of the dressing on top. Using your hands, massage the kale and dressing together until the kale is tender, about two minutes. Add the radicchio, fennel and parsley and toss to combine.

Divide among bowls or plates and serve.

NUTRITION

Calories: 86; Total Fat: 4g; Saturated Fat: 1g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 167mg; Carbohydrates: 12g; Dietary Fiber: 4g; Sugar: 6g; Protein: 2g.