My New Salad Obsession

Chopped Kale Salad with Grilled Chicken

It’s over. The big turkey platter is back in the dark recesses of the cupboard, where it will remain for another 359 days. The leftovers are gone. The stretch pants? Well, they might still be on you, depending on how involved you were in the disposing of all those Thanksgiving leftovers. So you might be in need of a healthy recipe at this point.

And have I got a salad for you! It’s my new addiction. If you put a bowl of this in front of me alongside, say, a Rib Eye steak, I’m pretty sure I’d eat the salad first. (I mean, I’d eat the steak after that … I’m not crazy.) Make that a bowl of ice cream, and I’d still go for this salad first. I made this about a month ago in the midst of a “let’s clean out the fridge” frenzy while trying to use up a few things that needed to go, and ever since, whenever I feel hunger pangs, this is what I think of. It’s that addicting.

Of course, it helps if you like kale. And I do. Oh, how I do. It also helps if you know just how good kale is for you. It’s so chock full of goodness that it qualifies as a “super food.” Feeling a little low on manganese? Calcium? Copper … iron, vitamins B1, B2, B6, C and E? And when was the last time you filled up on beta carotene? (a.k.a vitamin A). Just one serving of kale gives you 192% of your daily vitamin A needs. I can’t tell you what to do with the leftover 92% … you’re on your own there.

All that goodness fights cancer, helps with respiratory problems, and reduces inflammation. Inflammation is a biggy, because it’s looking more and more like that’s the cause of almost all our health issues.

So are you ready now to run to the store and grab a bundle of kale? Good. My work here is done. Except for the recipe.

Chopped Kale Salad … the New Stuff of Your Dreams

  • 1 bunch of kale (I used Italian, but you can try any kind)
  • 3/4 cup (give or take) of nuts (I used pine nuts … also amazingly good for you)
  • about a half a cup of olive oil
  • a few sprigs of fresh basil OR 1-2 TBSP pesto
  • about a half a cup of sun-dried tomatoes
  • a few pinches of coarse salt
  • pepper
  • shaved asiago or parmesan cheese
  • optional: hard-boiled eggs, one per person; slices of grilled chicken

The most time-consuming part of this salad is preparing the kale. When I made this the first time, I washed each of the leaves, dried them, and then cut out the stem.

When you’ve got the leaves washed, dried and de-stemmed, lay several on top of each other, roll up as best as you can, and start slicing very thinly. 

I can’t stress the “very thinly” part enough. I made this salad again a few weeks ago while visiting our friends, Pat and Kelly, in Carson City. I couldn’t find kale in a bunch, just in a bag. And though it pains me to say it, because I SO love Trader Joe’s, I just didn’t appreciate the way they cut up the kale in that bag. It was sliced across the stem, so every bite had a little bit of the stem in it, and the chunks were too big. We still liked the salad (Kelly liked it so much she made it twice in as many days after we had it for lunch), but it wasn’t the same to me. There’s something about these little slices that really make the salad, in my opinion.

Now, take a moment to toast the pine nuts (or whatever nut you’re using, but I do recommend the pine nuts) in a dry pan. There’s nothing to that. Just pour them in, heat them on medium-high, and stir them while watching carefully. It only takes about four minutes for the natural oils in the nuts to start toasting them. Don’t walk away, though, or you’ll end up with pine nut-charcoalettes.

Now for the dressing. I happened to have about this much olive oil left over in the jar of sun-dried tomatoes I made in August. There were still a few basil leaves and three lone tomatoes in there too, so those went in my dressing as well.

If you’re starting from scratch (and that’s what we did when I showed Kelly how to make this in Carson City), pour about a half a cup of olive oil in a small pan, add the sun-dried tomatoes (which you have chopped in smaller pieces), and the basil OR pesto. Warm this up for a few minutes, then add the chopped garlic and continue heating for another three minutes. Remove from stove and pour over your salad.

Stir well, then sprinkle with salt. If you’re tempted to skip the salt, don’t. It really brings out all the flavor in the kale.

Add the toasted pine nuts and slivers of Asiago or Parmesan cheese.

You can serve this salad as a side dish …

But it holds its own as a main dish, too. Just add egg and/or slices of grilled chicken, and there you go.

And just as I predicted, all this typing and picture-uploading has made me crave another bowl of this salad. Maybe I’ll run into you at the grocery store. 😀


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