Are you starting to feel so over your go-to salad order? It’s easy to get bored with salad if you eat the same version over and over. But a raw kale salad sprinkled with fruits and nuts and a homemade vinaigrette may be just what you need to change your mind.
Like all vinaigrettes, this one is made with an emulsifier (the garlic and shallot), an acid (lemon juice and champagne vinegar), and olive oil. For even more flavor, Chef Jason Fullilove adds finely chopped basil and chives after whisking together the kale salad dressing. (Here are more tricks for making a homemade vinaigrette.)
For the base of this kale salad, try using baby kale. This variation is much softer and less bitter than full-sized kale leaves. If you do use curly-leaf or dinosaur kale (the most common types found in American grocery stores), try massaging the raw kale to soften it. This technique means exactly what it sounds like: Use your fingers to massage each of the kale leaves using a small drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt until they are softer and less stiff. Watch this video to see how to destem your kale.
For the fruit component, use what’s in season. Strawberry is a popular choice, but if it’s not in season, try pomegranate arils (during the fall and early winter seasons) or citrus segments (which are in season in winter and early spring). Use these tricks to deseed a pomegranate or segment a grapefruit.
A great kale salad also has variation in textures and colors. A perfect pairing with strawberries is cucumber slices and walnuts. Just about any nut or seed can go well in a salad, so consider what would complement your fruit. If you want to save a few dollars, try buying your nuts in bulk. Otherwise, consider using sunflower seeds or sliced almonds. These two toppings are quite a bit cheaper than walnuts, pecans, or pistachios.
Toss the kale salad with your herbed champagne vinaigrette. After plating, you could garnish with cheese if desired. To limit calories and fat, choose a strong-flavored cheese (the potent flavor means you’ll use less of it). Chef Fullilove garnishes his raw kale salad with shaved pecorino cheese, but other possibilities include Parmesan Reggiano, feta, or goat cheese. (Use this technique to make cutting goat cheese a breeze.) To keep it dairy free, you could add avocado slices instead. (This is how to properly cut an avocado.)
As you experiment with different toppings for a sweet kale salad, simply remember to include a variety of colors, textures, and flavors. This balance will keep your taste buds interested. You might even start craving raw kale salad on the reg.