This kale salad has become a legend among my friends after a self-described non-foodie made it during a girls getaway trip. We all should have known that any gal who can whip up a Spam/Kraft Mac ‘n cheese dinner can also deliver a delicate and elegant salad made of only unprocessed ingredients.
Kale is all the rage these days, so you may be able to find shredded kale pre packaged at your local Food Lion equivalent. But it’s so much easier and cheaper, honestly, to do it yourself. Slice off the thick rib, roll the leaf into a cigar and then slice as thinly as you can.
Kale is a hearty, toothsome green that only works raw if shredded into ribbons and tossed with a tenderizing vinaigrette.
Kale Salad With Apple and Candied Almonds
– 2 T extra virgin olive oil
– Zest and juice of 1 lemon
– 2 c. Thinly sliced kale, ribs removed
– 1/4 c shredded Pecorino Romano cheese
– 1/4 c chopped candied almonds (sauté whole almonds in a pat of butter and couple spoonfuls of brown sugar over medium heat until coated. Cool on wax paper)
– 1 crisp apple, thinly sliced
– pinch cayenne
– salt and pepper to taste
Whisk together oil, zest and juice in your salad bowl. Add seasonings to taste. Add apple slices and coat. Add kale, almonds and cheese. Toss to combine.
The almonds offer a crunch and candied sweetness to the tart apple and lemon mixture. The Pecorino Romano adds a nuttiness and thickens the dressing so it nicely coats the leaves. I like to shave big shards of cheese over the top for garnish.
I have made this for numerous dinner parties and thanks to the robust kale, it does well as a leftover, too.
The latest edition of Bon Appetit is all about The South, declaring this region as the next big food trend. Well, duh, everyone says. Whether it means black-eye peas, fish fried with cornmeal or country ham, it appears the masses are turning their heads to low-country cuisine.
One ingredient I surely never saw at the Safeways of the Pacific Northwest is country ham. The super-salty cured pork steak that is so sodium-soaked that it almost burns. In fact, the packages aren’t even refrigerated!
I typically enjoy country ham added to cooking beans or something that allows the salt and strong porkiness to distribute. But this Bon Appetit recipe uses it as a little crouton (my title) on top of a salad made from thick kale, tart apple, sweet squash and a simple vinaigrette. Oh, and buttermilk drizzled over the top. Just for effect … and more.
I must admit that I am trying so hard to like squash, and I simply don’t. Still, you can see why roasted butternut squash is great in this medley – the acid of the lemon vinaigrette, the heartiness of the kale, the saltiness of the ham, the crunch of the apple and the creamy tang of the buttermilk. It all works and is full of good vitamins and minerals.
Adapted from Bon Appetit, which used mustard greens and a few other details I changed.
Kale Salad with Squash, Apples and Country Ham Croutons
- 10 c. fresh kale, stems and ribs removed
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt plus more for seasoning
- 2 cups 1″ cubes peeled butternut squash
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 ounces thinly sliced country ham, chopped
- 1 apple, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons minced shallot
- 2 tablespoons (or more) fresh lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons buttermilk
- Gently rub greens with 2 Tbsp. salt in a large bowl. Let stand, checking often, until the greens begin to release water and soften, about 15 minutes. Rinse in two changes of cold water. Squeeze greens dry and pat with a kitchen towel; transfer to a clean bowl.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Toss squash with 1 Tbsp. olive oil on prepared sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast squash, turning occasionally, until lightly browned and tender, 20–25 minutes. Let cool.
Heat vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add ham and cook until crisp, 1–2 minutes per side. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
- Add squash, apple, shallot, lemon juice, and remaining 2 Tbsp. olive oil to greens.
- Toss to combine; season to taste with salt. Divide evenly among plates. Drizzle with buttermilk. Arrange fried ham over. Season with cracked pepper.
Bon Appetit tells me that one whole salad contains less than 300 calories and less than 3 grams of saturated fat. Nevermind the sodium. 🙂
I’ve never had kale like this before and I think I had trouble getting used to its tough texture. But a bite that consisted of ham, the apple, the kale and the squash had a really sophisticated balance to it.
Enjoy, friends! xoxo
I admittedly am not a “dark greens” lover, but this is amazing. Whenever kale is looking fresh, I grab a few bundles of the curly dark-green leaves. They are great mixed into soups, baked with pastas or grains or simply cooked with a little fat until tender and bright with flavor.
I originally planned on making this with leftover sage sausage from the farmers’ market, but the chorizo in my fridge wooed me. The chorizo’s spicy, smoky flavor really sang with the kale – a surprising depth with each bite.
Seared kale with chorizo
- 1 bunch kale, washed and torn from the stem
- 4 oz. chorizo (or more!), chopped into chunks
- kosher salt
- cracked pepper
- freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 c. chicken stock (or water)
In a large skillet, heat a scant 1 tsp EVOO over medium. Add the chorizo and brown lightly 2-3 min. Add the kale and step back while the moisture spits in the hot oil. Allow the kale to wilt down – this will give you a nice seared edge on some pieces. Add salt and pepper to taste, then a few shavings of nutmeg (my mother’s trick). Toss with tongs, then add a bit of chicken stock to help things along. Check for seasonings (mother also adds vinegar to her dark greens, but I don’t think these needed it) and take off the heat as soon as the kale turns bright green and is wilted.
Hey, ma, it's healthy!
Like I said, kale surprises me. But I suppose if you mix any vegetable with sausage, the results will please you. Serve up and enjoy, friends! xoxo