It has been said imitation is the best form of flattery.
This recipe is an at-home version of the best kale salad ever. The hubby and I like to go out to dinner on Friday for “date night”, and this is a recreation of a delicious salad we ordered as an appetizer at our favorite restaurant. After working and cooking all week it’s so much fun to take a night off to have a glass of wine (or two), some good food, and relaxed conversation with my love. Friday nights really are the best.
Kale is really popular these days, and for good reason. It is rich is vitamins and nutrients, holds up well to raw and cooked preparations, and is earthy and delicious. Kale is no longer the token garnish that is tossed aside and is finally getting the attention it deserves! When in season I prefer to purchase locally grown organic kale from the Farmer’s Market, but store bought organic kale works too. Keep in mind that leafy greens are prone to absorbing pesticides during the growing process making it even more important to buy organic.
I have a few tips when making raw kale salad. First, the dressing is important because it helps slowly soften and break down the kale to make it tender. Homemade dressing is best; I like to use the simple combination of lemon juice and olive oil. Second, allow the kale salad to marinate in the refrigerator for several hours before serving. The marinating time is necessary because kale leaves are hearty and need time to tenderize for the best flavor and texture. Raw kale salads can be kept in the refrigerator for 2-3 days without becoming soggy which makes them perfect for make-ahead lunches for work or school. Third, the mix-ins make a big difference in flavor! While there are a thousand ways to flavor kale salad, I gravitate toward a variety of textures to create interest. In this recipe I include dried fruit for chewy sweetness, a perfect balance to the earthy flavor of the kale, nuts for crunch, and Parmesan cheese for an irresistible salty bite.
Eating your greens does not have to be dull and boring; this recipe is proof that, with only a few ingredients, you can create a satisfying kale salad that is both healthy and delicious!
- 1 bunch kale (I use green curly leaf kale)
- 1/3 c. dried cherries, chopped
- 1/3 c. toasted pine nuts
- 1/2 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1/2 c. olive oil
- salt/pepper, to taste
Remove kale leaves from the stems. (I like to save the stems for making homemade chicken broth.)
Stack a couple kale leaves then roll tightly into a log. Slice the kale as thinly as possible, using a sharp knife, to create little kale ribbons. The shredded kale allows more surface area for the salad dressing to tenderize later.
Repeat with remaining kale leaves until all the kale is shredded and place in a large bowl.
Roughly chop the dried cherries and add to the bowl with the kale.
Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the salad.
Place the pine nuts in a small skillet on the stove and turn heat to medium-low. Toss often until the pine nuts turn light golden brown then immediately remove from the heat; it is incredibly easy to burn pine nuts which gives them terrible flavor. I don’t recommend walking away from the stove!
Add pine nuts to the kale mixture.
In a small bowl combine freshly squeezed lemon juice, olive oil, and salt/pepper. Whisk dressing to combine then pour over the kale salad.
Toss with tongs to coat each piece of kale with dressing; you will notice the kale begin to wilt almost instantly. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator to marinate for 2-3 hours before serving. So many wonderful flavors and textures going on in this salad.
It’s easy to eat healthy when it tastes this good, enjoy!