I’m not going to lie, I am absolutely craving raw greens right now.
It always happens this time of year. The home stretch of winter, one or two mild days and all I want to do is eat salad and be outside.
The seasonal eater in me knows that it is not time yet for gentle butter lettuce with fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, it’s way too early for that. I still want something more filling and substantial. This is where kale has its shining moment.
Have I told you how much I adore kale? Ask any of my clients or cooking class students. Here’s the main reasons why: it has only 6 calories per cup (can you say free food?) but is so full of nutrients it blows most other vegetables away.
Think iron, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber. Being a powerhouse cruciferous vegetable means that kale is a natural detoxifier. It grabs all the bad things from your liver and gets rid of them though digestion. But I also love it because, since it is so hearty, you can make a lot of this salad for dinner and actually have it for lunch the next day. Kale leaves don’t wilt or fade like wimpy romaine.
The difference between a meh kale salad and an amazing kale salad has everything to do with how you prepare the kale. When I say “don’t skip this step” below, seriously, I mean don’t skip this step. If you have ever had a terrible kale salad in a restaurant you instantly know what I mean. Large, untorn leaves, chewy stems intact, and the rawness of the kale. No, it’s all wrong. I have a couple secrets to get over that.
I made a large bowl of this salad the other day and we have been eating it now for a couple of days, it lasts that long! So go ahead, enjoy the last days of winter into spring with this super delicious salad.
Hearty Kale Salad with Lemon Dijon Dressing
Makes 6 large servings
2 bunches Lacinato Kale
1 large bunch purple kale
1 small head Napa cabbage
1 red apple (of your choice), core removed and chopped
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons honey
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 teaspoon each coarse salt and pepper
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Prep the greens: take out the inner tough stem of the kale by either tear the leaves off or using a sharp knife to slice them off. Then coarsely chop the leaves into bite size pieces. Cut the Napa cabbage in half, then quarters and cut out the inner core. Thinly slice each quarter. Place all the greens into a large salad bowl.
- Toast the walnuts: place the walnuts in a small pan and place over medium heat. Stir frequently for about 1 minute, until you smell a nuttiness. Promptly remove the walnuts from the pan to a cutting board so they do not burn. Chop the walnuts coarsely and set aside.
- Chop the apple: cut the apple in half, then quarters and cut our the seeds and stem. Coarsely chop the apple and set aside.
- Make the dressing: in a mason jar or small mixing bowl add the mustard, lemon, honey, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil. Shake in the jar or whisk until well combined.
- Don’t Skip This Step! Drizzle half of the dressing over the greens, toss well and let sit for at least 10 minutes, tossing every once in a while. Here’s the secret: tough greens like kale need a lot of help from something acidic and/or salty to help break them down. Give the salad a chance to do its job.
- Add in the apples, walnuts and parmesan and toss the salad again. Add in more dressing if it needs it (it likely will need more). Serve and enjoy (or enjoy tomorrow).