Food + Wine

Balsamic Raw Kale Salad

This is another version of the Raw Kale Salad I posted awhile ago, where hand-smushed avocado acts as the fat in the salad dressing.  It’s such a great salad and I almost didn’t want to mess with it.  But then I remembered who I was… a messer.  I set out to make a version of this salad that had a colder weather feel to it since yesterday’s thunderstorm left me in that kinda mood.

My family eats what we call a Bistro Salad all the time and it basically is a mixed green salad dressed in a balsamic vinaigrette with some kind of dried fruit, a nut, a cheese and avocado. So I wanted this to combine all of those elements but have the added health benefit of using the raw kale.  The original version has grapefruit and orange and is a very light tasting salad, pairing easily with simple grilled meats.  But this one goes well with a heartier meal that you would want to eat when there’s a little nip in the air.  And since Spring has decided to be a little fickle the past couple of weeks, we probably have a bit more time to make this one before the warm weather is officially here!

*Balsamic Raw Kale Salad with Cranberries and Rosemary-Candied Walnuts 
(serves 4-6 ppl) 

-In a very large, wide bowl, pour in about 1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar (go a little shy of that amount and then you can always add more at the end if you need it) and season with several big pinches of kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper, and 2 TB of sugar.
-Thinly slice 1 small onion and place in the bowl with the vinegar, toss to coat, and allow this to sit as long as you can to allow the onion flavor to mellow in the vinegar.
-When you’re ready to eat, place 1 lb. of washed and trimmed kale into the bowl OR spend a little extra money, (but save lots of time), and buy a bag of Nature’s Greens that are already trimmed, washed (and even chopped) for you!!!
-Remove the flesh from 1 large, ripe Hass avocado and add to the bowl.  With your hands, toss the kale with the vinegar and the avocado flesh, smushing it all with your fingers so every leaf gets coated. Really give it a good massage, as this helps permeate the greens with the ‘dressing’ and break them down a bit, causing them to wilt.
-Taste to check your seasoning, and adjust if necessary.  It should have a nice balance of tang, salt and sweet.
-Throw in a few handfuls of dried cranberries (dates, dried figs, or raisins work well, as do pomegranate arils in the Fall) and your candied walnuts*.
-Add some crumbled goat cheese, bleu, feta or even shaved parmesan if you’d like.  (I also love to top this with some chicken and eat it as a complete meal.)
-Eat at room temperature either as a light lunch or on the side of something equally fantastic!

*Rosemary Candied Walnuts
This isn’t really a recipe, just a method (but isn’t that how all my ‘recipes’ are?!)  It’s so simple to do and you can change the nut and the herb to make it taste however you’d like.  These nuts are also a great thing to serve as a snack at cocktail parties on their own.
-In a medium saucepan, on medium heat, heat about 1/2 TB of olive oil and/or butter.
-Add in a few handfuls of raw walnuts and toss to coat.
-Season with several good pinches of kosher salt and brown sugar (about equal parts of each) and about 1/2 tsp of dried or fresh minced rosemary.
-Keep shaking the pan and tossing the nuts until they become crunchy, but be careful to not overcook.  A nut can burn so fast if you’re not careful.  The rule of thumb is when you smell the nut, it’s done.  Do not walk away from the pan.
-Taste them to make sure your seasoning is correct.
-Allow to cool a bit before serving.
(note- if you’re making these ahead of time, they last several days at room temperature, in an airtight container.)

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  • Reply Chef E April 6, 2011 at 11:53 pm

    I love this salad…I have a problem with my tummy thought, I cannot handle eating insoluble greens without consuming soluble at the same time…but I do love this salad!

  • Reply Velva April 7, 2011 at 2:00 am

    Abbey, this sounds so amazing. Wow, love it.


  • Reply Everyday Champagne April 7, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    Thanks ladies!
    Chef E- I totally understand…kale can be a bit rough on sensitive tummies!

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