Kale. It’s a leafy green whose preparation seems to stump so many people! And yet, it’s so freakin’ versatile.
My sister uses kale regularly, and she offered to share her very favorite vegetarian kale salad with me. Yay! We’ve received kale in our last two small bag deliveries from Hometown Harvest, so I’m in need of some great go-to recipes myself. This one fits the bill.
Before we get into recipe specifics, let’s take a look at some notes Josie sent me with the recipe:
We make this salad at least once a week in our house. It’s the best because it’s good right after you make it and really good the next day (as opposed to salad made with tender greens which is gross the next day). Sometimes I eat enough of it to make an entire meal but it’s also good along with other main dishes like mac and cheese, lentil soup, or a hummus sandwich.
After you make this salad once, you will easily make it your own. Prefer walnuts or pine nuts instead of pecans? Like sweeter dressing? Like more fruit? It’s really easy to customize since the ingredients are so simple. Bonus: the lemon dressing I use keeps the apples or pears from browning!
Mmmm…. I love fruit and nuts in just about any salad, especially those made with spinach, kale or chard!
I need more kale details.
When can I buy kale, and what makes this salad awesome?
Kale is in season pretty much year round in the Mid-Atlantic. For us, the biggest variable in this salad is what fruit is in season. This time of year we use apples and pears because they can be stored and one of the farmers at our farmers’ market brings them for most of the winter. But winter is also known for Florida citrus and this salad is great with ripe orange, grapefruit, clementine, or blood orange slices. In the spring it’s great with strawberries, summer with peaches or nectarines – you get it, it’s really good with whatever fruit is in season.
What about the kale though? What kind works best for a salad? How many different kinds are there?
You can use any kale for this recipe. I’ve made it with curly kale, ‘dinosaur kale’ (pictured), and red russian kale (which is a flat leaf kind). Dinosaur kale is the most tender and you can sometimes get away with eating the stems. Curly kale and red russian kale both have extreme tough stems but the leaves are delicious. If you come across purple kale, it can make a beautiful mix along with the green leaves and color of the fruit.
And now, the recipe!
My vegetarian sister, Josie Johnson, is the lead farmer at Battery Urban Farm in NYC. She also makes handmade soaps, lip balm, bags and knits in her Brooklyn apartment – you can find those for sale in her Paper and Plow Etsy shop.
- 1 bunch kale, stems removed and chopped into thin strips
- 2 lemons (if they are small, if they are large 1 should be enough)
- 2 tbsp honey
- ½ tsp salt (plus more to taste)
- ½ tsp pepper (plus more to taste)
- ¼ olive oil
- 1 large apple, cubed (skin on for us)
- 1 cup raw pecans, chopped
- Put prepared kale into a large bowl. Juice one of the lemons over the kale. Toss the kale until thoroughly coated and set aside. It's important that the kale sit a while in the lemon juice, it helps tenderize the leaves.
- In a liquid measuring cup, juice the other lemon. Your looking for ⅛ - ¼ of a cup of juice - doesn't need to be exact. Add the honey, salt, and pepper and stir until emulsified. Taste the dressing and add more of what it needs. It should be slightly less tart than you want it to be since there is already lemon juice on the kale.
- In a dry pan toast the pecans over medium heat until they are browned. Stir somewhat frequently until they start to sizzle a little and smell really nutty and delicious. Keep an eye on them, once they start to brown they pick up pace and can burn quickly. But to be honest, we kind of like the 'toastier' ones in our house.
- Add the apple and pecans to the kale, pour on the dressing and toss. I like to let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes in the dressing before eating.