Winter Kale Salad with a Maple Vinaigrette

A hearty kale salad with a 4-ingredient maple vinaigrette. This salad is simple, yet has many flavors and textures that will keep you satisfied until you’re ready to devour that Valentine’s Day candy. And why not eat that whole box? You just ate a salad!

20150130-204131-74491501.jpgI first discovered a version of this salad on Cookie and Kate, who adapted it from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. I was looking for an easy, non-oven-using vegetable recipe to serve at my Mom’s Thanksgiving. She makes so many delicious dishes that I knew I couldn’t take up any oven space. I also needed to make most of it hours before so I wouldn’t get in the way and I would be free to help her. Kale seemed like a good choice, since it is such a hearty green, doesn’t wilt like lettuce or baby spinach and can be prepared hours before eating. The only potential issue with kale is that I knew I was taking a huge risk serving kale at my family’s Thanksgiving. I have a reputation of bringing food that isn’t traditional enough on Thanksgiving. A few years ago I brought my Easy Thai Coconut Butternut Squash Soup and most of my family revolted against it. Some refused to even try it. They reacted to it as if I was I was asking: “would like to try this gum I scraped off the bottom of my shoe?” So you can imagine, I didn’t have high hopes for most of my family to even try the kale salad. But to my surprise, everyone LOVED it.  They said the maple vinaigrette was their favorite part! I was hoping for leftovers, but there were none left! What a compliment.

Winter Kale Salad with a maple vinaigrette

That’s right. You heard it. On Thanksgiving, where we have 3 types of stuffings, 20lbs of turkey, roasted crispy potatoes and about 10 other dishes, this very kale salad was eaten up. If that doesn’t convince you to make this, I don’t know what will.

dressing and apples2I’ve adapted this recipe slightly since Thanksgiving. Since it has been SO COLD in Boston (and we’re buried under 40 inches of snow, no biggie), I’ve taken to wilting the kale first. It warms it, and I feel like it’s much more fitting for winter now. You can make this raw or wilted. Whatever tickles your fancy.

before after kale

Left: Before wilting. Right: After wilting

Just in case you are not sold yet, let me briefly elaborate on why this salad is so great. The maple syrup in the vinaigrette brings a little sweetness that tempers the bitterness of the crunchy radishes and the toughness of the kale. The granny smith apple is tart and juicy while the goat cheese adds some creamy decadence. Finally the salad is finished off with toasted walnuts for a nutty crunch and some protein. Bam. All the flavors you would ever want in a salad.

Winter Kale Salad radish.jpg

Kale chips are overrated. Make a kale salad.

 

Winter Kale SaladRecipe: Winter Kale Salad with a Maple Vinaigrette

 Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

Kale Salad

  • 1 Bunch of Kale
  • 4-6 radishes, sliced thin
  • 1 Granny smith apple, cored and chopped
  • ½ cup of walnuts
  • Lots of goat cheese (2-3oz)

Maple Vinaigrette

  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
  • Salt, to taste

Instructions

1. Toast the walnuts: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place the walnuts on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Bake at 350F for 8-10 minutes. Allow the walnuts to cool before adding to the salad. Walnuts can be toasted up to a week before. Store toasted, cooled walnuts in an airtight container.

2. Wilt the Kale: Rip off the leaves from the ribs. Tear the leaves into bite size pieces (or however large you like them) and rinse well with water. With the kale leaves still wet from the water, add them to a large pot with a lid. Wilt the kale leaves with a pinch of salt on medium heat. Stir the kale about every 1-2 minutes to wilt all the leaves evenly and leaving the top on the pot when not stirring. I usually wilt the kale for about 3-4 minutes or until kale has become a bright green color and has become fragrant (See picture in the post). Time and amount of water will depend on how much kale you are wilting and how big the pot is.  The small amount of kale I have in the picture only took 1 minute to wilt (2 handfuls of kale leaves) and no extra water except what was on the kale to rinse. You may need to add a little more water if it dries up before your kale is wilted.  Be careful not to add too much water or cook it too long, or your kale will be super chewy.  After kale is wilted, drain any extra water and squeeze the kale to remove excess water before adding kale to a large bowl and set aside.*

3. Make the dressing: In a small bowl add olive oil, maple syrup, red wine vinegar and Dijon mustard. Whisk with a fork until well combined.

4. Put it all together: Dress the salad and let the leaves soak up the dressing about 10-15 minutes before serving. Top with radishes, apples goat cheese and walnuts.  Sprinkle with a pinch of salt, if desired.

*Another way I have also cooked the kale for this salad is to saute with a little bit oil (olive or vegetable) in a non-stick skillet for a few minutes until it has softened a bit (3-4 minutes).  The original recipe serves the kale salad raw. I have made this raw and it is delicious! Head over to Cookie and Kate to get good tips on how to prep raw kale.

Recipe sources: Maple Vinaigrette deliciousinadash.wordpress.com

Kale salad adapted from Cookie and Kate

Looking for some more great vegetarian recipes?

Breakfast Grilled Cheese

Egg Apple and cheese sandwichMy taller half and I eat this sandwich at least once a week.

Spanish Tortilla with Baby Spinach and Red Bell Pepper

Spanish TortillaA delicious egg and potato dish.  A spin on the traditional Spanish Tortilla.

Spinach and Broccoli Artichoke dip

Spinach and Broccoli Artichoke dipMy favorite dip.  Perfect for watching movies and trashy tv shoes when you’re snowed in.  It’s made with vegetables and Greek yogurt – so it’s totally good for you.

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