Listen. I love fall. I love hoodies, I love sweaters, I love chunky boots, I love beanies, but most importantly, I love not sweating every waking moment of the day. So nothing brings me more joy than to deliver you this kale salad. Although the leafy vegetable is actually in season during the fall and winter months, it doesn’t exactly scream, “IT’S FALL.” Kale makes me think of hot days washing my car outside, prancing around in gym shorts and Birkenstocks, hair up in a bun to keep it off my neck and light dinners that aren’t too heavy.
Let me tell you about my history with kale. It started about a year ago when I decided to actually try the vegetable. I used to stick to the same ones, (red peppers, zucchini, squash and green beans) because it’s what I grew up eating, but mom never brought home kale. “It’s a vegetable, and I love vegetables,” I thought. “I’ll totally love kale and then I’ll turn into this fit, healthy, only-drinks-protein-shakes kinda girl.” Well, rest assured, none of that happened.
Except, I did end up liking kale eventually, after prepping it many different ways. I tried sautéing it with garlic, red pepper flakes and oil. That was a no-go. I think I cooked it too long.. Then we tried kale chips. So sorry, but a chip is a potato and always will be to me. Then it came to me. My little sister is always talking about these kale salads she makes and how great they are, and I also had a kale salad at a quirky little bagel shop in Nashville. I remember the leaves being tender, but still crunchy. It was wilted though..and I knew I had to acheive that texture before I’d go anywhere close to the vegetable again.
I began to research ways to tenderize kale, and the best way to do this is to massage it. (Kale is, like, super high maintenance.) You definitely don’t have to, but kale is a rather tough, cruciferous vegetable, and massaging it breaks down the cells and softens the leaves.
To do so, rinse and dry your kale very well. Otherwise, excess water will settle in the bottom of the bowl and it’s kind of gross. Next, grab a mixing bowl large enough that gives you plenty of space to move things around in. Add the kale and a few tablespoons of olive oil. No need to measure, but you’ll want enough to coat all the leaves. Start to squeeze the kale with your hands, being careful to not over massage (you don’t want mushy kale). It normally takes no longer than two minutes for me, mostly because my hands get tired by then. You’ll notice the kale will turn into a bright green, but with plenty of texture. Good job. You’ve completed your first kale massage.
As you massage, look for any stems that can be thrown out. If you buy the stalks, just chop the leaves off the stem or run your fingers down each side of the stem and the leaves will separate.
From here, it’s time to pile on the toppings. Kale is good, but toppings are better. I used just broccoli, dried cranberries and almonds this time, but I love red onion slices and tomato, too. Seriously, it’s a salad, it’s YOUR salad, so the toppings are endless.
The vinaigrette is something I quickly pulled together. I’ve even just added a splash of lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt for my dressing and it was still great, but the honey takes it to another level, and salads could always use a level-up! I made mine in a Blender Bottle, but you can certainly use a mason jar or a measuring cup and transfer to another container for storage.
Let me know what you think!
End of Summer Kale Salad with Lemon Honey Vinaigrette
- 5 cups kale, chopped with stems removed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup broccoli, chopped into bite size pieces
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries or cherries
- 1/2 cup almonds, slivered or chopped
- Rinse and pat dry kale. In a large mixing bowl, massage kale with olive oil for about two minutes. Set aside.
- Chop broccoli and almonds and toss with kale along with the cranberries.
- Transfer to airtight container and store in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
- For the vinaigrette, combine all ingredients and shake or stir until the oil and lemon juice come together.