1. Kale is an ideal green for make-ahead salads. The sturdy leaves won't wilt and can be dressed up to 24 hours in advance, rendering it perfect for easy entertaining.
2. There are two types of kale available at most supermarkets: curly and Tuscan, which is also known as lacinato, black, or dinosaur kale.
3. Curly kale is tough to chew, while the Tuscan leaves are soft and slightly sweet. I enjoy salads made with both types of leaves, but if you're a recent convert to kale salads you might prefer the Tuscan-style greens to start.
4. Always remove the tough stem from the centre of the kale leaves. It's thick and bitter and unpleasing to the palate, so it's worth the extra 2 minutes of prep time required to do this. You can cut away the stem with a knife or pull the leaves off the centre rib like this.
5. I begin all of my kale salads by "massaging" the dressing into the leaves with my fingers and allowing them to stand for a minimum of 10-15 minutes. This helps to break down the fibers of the plant and tenderize the leaves, making them less 'grassy'. The raw greens will become soft and shimmery, and will taste - and look - better than the untouched leaves.
6. Chop your kale into small, thin threads for best results. Otherwise, it might feel as thought your mouth is being invaded by a small bush of rough leaves.
7. Use a heavier dressing with kale; the robust greens can really stand up to a thicker sauce unlike other salad leaves. You may also want to use more dressing that usual since kale won't sag under the weight of the liquid.
8. If raw kale isn't to your liking, try blanching the leaves in boiling water for 1-2 minutes. Immediately transfer them to a bowl of ice water, drain and pat dry. The greens will be soft and easier to chew but less plentiful, so you may need double the amount of kale required in your salad if you do this.
9. Grilled and sautéed kale also work well in salads.
Kale Super Salad
This salad is loosely based on one that I recently enjoyed at a local coffee shop. When I came home I couldn't stop talking about it, so I made my own version and included apples, a natural pairing with kale, especially in the fall. I would be sure to make the vinaigrette before doing anything else with this salad. It will keep in the fridge for up to one week, and also tastes great when tossed with roasted root vegetables.
Maple Dijon Vinaigrette
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
- 6 tablespoons canola or safflower oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
For the salad:
- 1 bunch kale, washed, stems removed, and finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons maple vinaigrette
- 1/3 cup finely diced red onion
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- 1/3 cup crumbled feta
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 3/4 cup chickpeas
- 1/2 cup lentils
- 1 apple, cored and diced
In a small bowl whisk together the Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, and maple syrup. Slowly add the oil to the bowl, whisking as you go. Season with the salt and pepper, and store in a lidded jar in the fridge for up to one week.
Place the kale in a large salad bowl and drizzle the dressing over the top. Using your fingers, ‘massage’ the vinaigrette into the kale leaves, evenly coating them with the sauce. Let site for a minimum of 15 minutes.
Add the remaining salad ingredients to the bowl and toss to combine. Add more dressing, if desired, and serve.