Isn’t all kale salad hearty? and healthy? Isn’t that why we eat it? Surely nobody actually LIKES kale salad. Well, do it right, and you might.
I was eating kale long before the Great Kale Craze of 2012. I tend to prefer it cooked, if only because raw kale tastes like cut grass, and not in a good way. Why else was everyone drowning it in Caesar dressing back in the day?
That approach is not without merit. A good amount of fat and salt can make almost anything taste good. But withering kale with a physical rub and salting it to soften the texture and flavour can make it something that I actually want to eat. And not just because it’s healthy.
Kale salad also has the benefit of being the only kind of salad that stays nice when made ahead. Whether you are still going into work sometimes, or whether you just want a batch of greens you can dig out of the fridge at a moment’s notice, kale salad is your friend.
The secret is twofold: use strongly flavoured, non-wilting ingredients that can stand up to the kale, then get your hands mucky.
Kale pairs well with strong cheese such as old cheddar or blue cheese. I used beef bacon, because for some reason it just really complements the flavours in this salad, but any bacon would do. Shredded duck with crispy skin would also be a perfect accompaniment, but I topped this with slow roasted chicken to make a complete meal. Keto much?
I always make an incredibly garlicky and mustard-filled dressing with a strong olive oil. Before I toss it and let it sit, though, I salt the kale, and massage it with some force for every batch I wash. I just keep grinding a little salt on, then taking every fresh bit I’ve washed and kneading it like bread to break it down. This recipe is not for baby kale. This is for the hearty stuff that you know you should eat, but are afraid will taste like hay and alfalfa sprouts. It won’t.
If you find kale—or any cabbage—hard on your digestion, try sipping some Puerh tea along with it. This fermented tea does wonders with its probiotic properties, and the mushroomy, earthy flavours nicely offset the robust vegetal kale.
Do it! You won’t hate it. You might even like it. And your body will thank you.
Hearty Kale Salad
- 2 heads green or purple curly kale
- ¼ head purple cabbage
- 4 carrots
- 4 celery sticks
- 1 shallot
- 1 cup toasted hazelnuts
- 1 cup cubed strong cheddar
- 4 pieces crispy bacon (beef bacon works well here)
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 2 tbsp strong mustard
- 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Wash kale carefully. Spin dry, then rip into smallish pieces.
- Graet salt over each batch, then rub forcefully and throughy every time, incorporating the fresh washed kale with the salted and massaged.
- Let the kale sit as you chop your other vegetables and fry the bacon.
- Fry beef bacon on medium low until entirely crispy. Crumble into big bits.
- Turn oven onto 350°F. Put hazelnuts on a baking tray and toast for 8-10 minutes, or until fragrant. Rub skins off. Rough chop or crush with a rolling pin.
- Slice carrots into coins, not too small. You need the freshness and heft to stand up to the kale. Slice celery, erring on the side of bigger pieces.
- Thin slice shallots.
- Finely chop or puree the garlic, then mix with other dressing ingredients.
- Toss dressing with all vegetables. Add bacon, cheese and hazelnuts.
- Top with smoked duck breast or roast chicken. Or a cup of cooked lentils. Feel yourself slowing becoming fortified against any cold or or dreary landscapes, and wait for spring.