Happy Mother’s Day! Here in Florida, this Sunday will be one of the busiest days of the year at our wonderful local restaurants, so most of the time, we celebrate brunch or dinner at home, and love every minute of it!
This year I’d like to share a favorite recipe with you – one that’s sure to please everyone, including Mom and even the kids and/or grandkids. Brenda’s Kale Salad. Not once have I prepared it and someone doesn’t ask me for the recipe. This is a great pleaser for any function where you’re asked to bring a dish. And believe me, you don’t have to be a kale aficionado to love this salad!
Kale is a true favorite of mine, and this year, our hydroponic farm has given us a bountiful crop. We grow both the curly kale and also lacinto (dino) kale which has a flatter appearance. As the “dog days of summer” approach our kale crop loses steam and pests find their way into our delicious leaves, so we are harvesting enthusiastically now while we can.
I use kale almost daily in smoothies. It’s not only great in a salad, but also in soups, and steamed or sautéed with onions, garlic, or whatever seasoning as a terrific veggie side dish. In my kitchen, kale is one of the most versatile ingredients I like to have on hand.
- Tip – you can clean and freeze kale so it’s available for smoothies at any time!
You can read about the Top Ten Health Benefits of Eating Kale here. Perhaps two of my personal favorites are that it’s a great anti-inflammatory food and the fiber and sulfur it contains are very helpful in detoxing your system. It’s helpful to remember that any green that is on the somewhat bitter side is an excellent detoxifier.
So now let’s take a look at my basic recipe, along with many ways you can substitute other ingredients you just may have easily within reach in your pantry or refrigerator.
Brenda’s Kale Salad
Salad (only 6 ingredients)
- ½ cup toasted walnuts – I particularly like walnuts since they contain omega-3 oils. I’ve also used slivered almonds, roasted pumpkin seeds or toasted sunflower seeds
- Large bunch of kale – approximately 8 to 10 ounces. If you’re having guests who are not used to kale, curly kale will probably please the most. Be sure and remove the stems and break the kale into small pieces. This will allow for better coverage with the dressing. Personally, I like the dino kale best, again with stems removed. I just really enjoy the firmer texture. Spinach or romaine lettuce can be added in if desired.
- 2 or 3 green onions (scallions) – chopped. ¼ cup sweet onion can be used.
- ½ cup dried currants. I love the way these small fruits add such a nice amount of sweetness to a bite. However, currants can be difficult to find. Instead, dried cranberries or even raisins are a fine substitute.
- ½ to ¾ cup of fresh blueberries or strawberries. Blueberries and strawberries are abundant at this time of year and are wonderful in the salad. When I use strawberries, I quarter them, which adds that beautiful red color to your presentation. 1 medium apple or pear can be used instead.
- 2 ounces of feta cheese – crumbled. I’ve also used shredded Manchego cheese or even soft goat cheese. Cheese adds a delightful richness to the salad.
(optional) 6 nasturtium flowers, leaves and stems. We are fortunate to grow nasturtium at our farm. This vibrant orange flower adds an enjoyable spicy, somewhat peppery flavor to this dish and can also be found in many produce departments. All parts of the nasturtium can be eaten. Experiment and taste first the stem, then a leaf, then the flower. Each part offers a different amount of peppery spice.
Dressing (only 5 simple ingredients)
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar. I’ve used rice vinegar or white wine vinegar in a pinch.
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp maple syrup. Honey can be used. I personally like the light taste the maple syrup lends to the dressing.
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat oven or toaster oven to 350 degrees and spread walnuts or other nuts on a baking tray. Toast for 5 – 10 minutes. You will begin to smell their fragrance when they are just about ready. Allow them to cool.
After kale is washed, remove the stems. It’s quick and easy to hold the bottom of the kale stalk and pull upward, freeing the leafy area from the stem. By the way, the stems contain excellent fiber and nutrients and can be saved and frozen to add to a smoothie at a future date. Tear the kale leaves into small pieces and place in a large salad bowl.
Thinly slice the scallions and add them to the bowl.
Crumble the walnuts and add them to the bowl. If you’re using a different nut or seed, add as appropriate.
At this point, I like to add in the dressing. So, in a small bowl combine the dressing ingredients and whisk until blended. Drizzle the mixture on the salad and literally massage it into your salad. I think it’s the loving touch that does the trick!
Quarter the strawberries or measure your blueberries. Crumble the feta cheese. Add your fruit of choice and cheese to top your salad. Decorate with nasturtiums.