Kale is probably one of the most misunderstood vegetables in the crisper drawer. Despite its great marketing as a superfood, it's not the easiest ingredient to use. Here are some simple salad recipes that are both delicious AND healthy!
Curly kale, baby kale, dinosaur kale, and red kale can all be used for salads, but the variety you use and the age of the leaves makes a huge difference. When buying mature kale, go for the tenderest leaves you can find. Bigger is definitely not better when it comes to raw kale!
How to Prepare Kale
For all but baby kale, you want to wash, dry, then tear the leaves free from the stem and then into smaller, bite-sized pieces. Taste a piece. If it seems tough, massage it all with a splash of olive oil. Squishing the kale between your fingers as you mix it will yield tender, grassy-tasting greens perfect for a salad.
Corn Salad with Kale and Arugula (serves 4)
While the star of this recipe is clearly the corn, kale helps bulk it up and gives it some texture. Peppery arugula is my favorite base for this, but you could also use baby spinach or spring mix if that's all you have on hand.
1 can of corn, drained (Niblets are best for this recipe)
1 cup of julienned kale
1/2 cup Vidalia onion, diced
3 T. balsamic vinegar
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups of baby arugula
In plastic storage container, combine the corn, kale, onion, vinegar, and olive oil. Season liberally with salt and pepper and refrigerate until ready to serve. Shake well before plating on top of the arugula. For a special touch, add some goat cheese crumbles or a bit of feta cheese (optional).
Orange Kale Salad (serves 3)
This refreshing dish is a simplified copycat version of a sophisticated, citrusy salad served at Fogo de Chão. It is excellent with a simple steak or piece of fish.
3 cups of kale
1 naval orange, peeled, sliced cross-wise, and cut into thin batons
1/4 cup of sliced Vidalia onion
2 T. olive oil
2 T. red wine vinegar
1 T. honey
salt, pepper to taste
Massage the kale in a bit of olive oil if needed. Top the kale with the pieces of orange and the slices of onion. In a small container, shake all of the wet ingredients until well combined. Toss the salad, using all of the dressing. Serves 2-3.
Kale Caesar Salad (serves 2)
The beautiful thing about kale is that it stands up to heavier dressings like Caesar without getting soggy. This simple salad is perfect to take to work in a mason jar. If you make a few at a time, I'd suggest keeping the croutons separate so they don't get damp. Pair this one with some rotisserie chicken or grilled shrimp for a restaurant-quality meal.
2 cups of kale
3 T. Caesar salad dressing (I like Ken's Classic Caesar Dressing)
1 T. shredded Parmesan cheese
This one is a simple classic. All you have to do is massage the kale if it needs it, drizzle with the dressing, and top it with the cheese and croutons. It's not as pretty as what's pictured, but I tend to crumble my croutons first for an optimal carb-to-salad ratio.
My biggest issue with kale is that I never eat it fast enough. if you take the time to wash and tear the leaves on a whole bunch, they may go a little yellow at the edges before you can use it all. Don't use it once it gets to that point; kale tastes best when it's fresh and bright or dark green. If you find that you've bought too much to eat fresh, try making some kale chips!
**All of the photos in this article are by Sarina Petrocelly.
Do you have a favorite kale salad recipe? Tell us about it in the comments!