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This Now-Famous Kale Salad Is the Result of a Failed Salad

Here’s how to make the popular dish at La Sirena Clandestina.

Photo: Jeff Marini

Like many great dishes, La Sirena Clandestina’s now-famous kale salad with poblano dressing was the result of a menu flop. “We originally used Bibb lettuce, and it never sold,” says chef-owner John Manion, who invented the dressing back in his Branch 27 days, as a Latin nod to green goddess. La Sirena’s sous chef at the time, Joe DiTola, suggested swapping in kale, and it was the right sturdy green for the bold creamy dressing.

John Manion’s Kale Salad with Poblano Dressing

Yield:4 servings
ACTIVE time:20 minutes
Total time:45 minutes

2 Poblano peppers
1 Egg yolk
½ Medium avocado, peeled and diced
1 Clove garlic
1½ tsp. Dijon mustard
⅓ cup Buttermilk
2 tsp. Lemon juice
1 tsp. Salt, plus more to taste
1½ cups Canola oil
8 oz. Kale, cleaned, stemmed, and torn
1 oz. Pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
2 Medium jalapeños, thinly sliced
3 Large radishes, thinly sliced
1 oz. Cotija cheese, crumbled

1. Adjust the oven rack to the top position and heat the broiler to high. On an ungreased sheet pan, broil the poblanos, turning once, until the skins are evenly blackened and blistered, about 10 minutes. Use tongs to put the poblanos in a plastic bag; seal and let steam for 15 minutes. Then peel and halve the peppers, removing the stems and seeds.

2. Place the poblanos and the next seven ingredients in a blender and pulse until coarsely puréed. With the blender on low, slowly stream in the oil until the dressing is smooth and emulsified. Thin with water, if needed, to achieve ranch dressing consistency.

3. Put the kale in a large bowl. Pour ¾ cup of the dressing over the kale and toss by hand to coat. Add more dressing to taste, and reserve any extra (see tip). Add remaining ingredients, toss, and serve.

Pro tip: Leftover dressing will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days. Manion recommends using it on potatoes, as a sandwich spread, on burgers, or as a dip.

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