My latest lunch obsession is a little hole in the wall on Ritch street called Darwin Cafe. No bigger than a shoebox and more crowded than the 30 Stockton during the lunch rush, this place churns out plate after plate of simple yet incredibly tasty food. Two dishes I love from their menu are the Kale and Radicchio salad and the Persimmon and Pomegranate side salad they serve with their sandwiches. Since all of the star ingredients are in season right now, I had to take a turn at making the salads in my kitchen.
Kale and Radicchio Salad
If “earthy” was ever the appropriate foodie adjective to use on a dish, this would be it.
one bunch Dino kale aka Tuscan kale
one head of radicchio
the juice of half a lemon
1/3 cup of freshly shredded parmesan cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove minced garlic
aged balsamic vinegar
3 slices of bacon
salt and pepper to taste
Prep and cook:
Trim the ends of the stem off the leaves of kale. If the stalks are tender, you don’t have to trim too much. Cut the kale and radicchio into chunks and throw them into the salad spinner for a wash and dry. Place into a large mixing bowl.
Cut the bacon in to small strips width-wise and fry them they are brown and crisp and the fat as rendered out. Put onto a plate lined with paper towels and let cool.
Blend the lemon juice, minced garlic, and olive together and pour onto the salad leaves and massage the mixture into the leaves with your hands. Yes you read that right! Raw kale can be tough so you want to tenderize them a bit with the olive oil and lemon. Massage the salad, not like a gentle Swedish but quick deep tissue Thai if you get the picture. Don’t over do it though, just a few quick kneads with the hands.
Right before serving, add in the bacon and the cheese and give it a healthy drizzle of balsamic vinegar over top. Give it a quick toss and you are done. You can serve this as a main dish for two people or a side salad for a bigger party.
Persimmon and Pomegranate Salad
Bright and refreshing, this dish is beyond easy to make. I’m so enamored with this salad that I’ve made four days in a row. It’s so quick because you can buy pomegranate seeds at places like Trader Joe’s now and avoid the mess of cracking the fruit open yourself.
one good handful of arugula or you can sub in other mixed greens
1 fuyu persimmon (these are the crisp kind with the flat bottom)
a couple of table spoons of pomegranate seeds
a couple of pinches of sliced raw almonds
balsamic vinegar (if preferred)
salt & pepper to taste
Prep and cook:
Wash and dry the arugula if needed. Dress them with a tiny bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I just pour a quick drizzle with a light hand. They don’t use the vinegar at the cafe but I like it to help cut the bitterness of the arugula. Peel the persimmon like you would an apple and cut into wedges. Toss the persimmon in with the salad and plate it. Finish off with some pomegranate seeds and sliced almonds, along with salt and pepper. And you are done!