this is a cheesesteak, not a kale salad
I was visiting my sister in Philly recently and we were at her friend Michele’s house for a kids birthday party. Michele is an awesome cook and baker, so I was psyched about the homemade fig cake, which was leaps and bounds better than the store-bought birthday cake they had on hand for “picky eaters.”
Over lunch, my sister was raving about the kale salad and I was all, what’s the big deal, it’s a kale salad. Then I dished some of it on my plate and was like wait, this is kale salad!? It doesn’t taste bitter and the kale isn’t scraping the roof of my mouth off and there’s a lot of good flavor but it still feels very fresh and healthy, so what exactly is going on here?
Michele gave me her recipe for the vinaigrette, which seemed easy enough, and as soon as I got back to the Boston area I ran to the supermarket to stock up on kale. Needless to say, it’s been sitting in my refrigerator all week. Until today, when I opened the fridge to get milk for my cocoa krispies and saw that giant bag of kale sitting in my crisper, giving me a total guilt trip. Damn it, now what was in that vinaigrette? I stood in front of my pantry and fridge until I remembered enough of the ingredients to piecemeal it together. I added a few flavors of my own, buzzed it all in my tiny food processor, and tasted and tweaked until I had a pretty delicious dressing.
Kale salad might be the played out item on every menu now, but finding a good one is still pretty exciting. Eating kale when it doesn’t taste like kale is even more exciting. This salad is perfect for all your summer potlucks and BBQs. My sister and I were talking about how everyone insists on a green salad at those things, and then they sit there wilting, while all the mayo-heavy salads get gobbled up. This green salad is here to help with that.
Vinaigrettes are really easy to make and can be tailored to any tastes. You don’t need a Vitamix or immersion blender, although if you already have one, they do make the job easier. I didn’t use cups or tablespoons while making this, so I’m estimating the measurements below.
Apple Cider Vinaigrette
¼ cup apple juice (probably even less, I put too much in my first batch and it was too sweet)
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon Dijon
Pepper, tiny tiny pinch
Salt, to taste
¾ cup oil (EVOO, canola, whatever you’ve got on hand)
If you have a food processor/blender, this is super simple: put everything in EXCEPT for the oil, pulse it together, then add oil slowly and mix until emulsified. If you don’t have a blender, just whisk everything together EXCEPT for the oil, then add oil slowly while whisking vigorously until emulsified. Or shake it all in a container with a lid. The container works well, since this makes a good amount of dressing and you’ll need to shake it up before each use or the oil will separate.
4 cups kale, rough chopped w/ stems removed
½ - ¾ cup apple cider vinaigrette
1 apple, thinly sliced
Dried fruit (craisins, cranberries, blueberries, raisins, pick your poison)
Feta cheese, crumbled
Mix kale and vinaigrette together and let the kale soak in the dressing. The kale will soften the longer it sits in the dressing, so this is a great make ahead dish. Before serving, toss in the add-ons: sliced apple, dried fruit, feta cheese. It’s salad, not science. Enjoy your kale for once!