Is it just me or is Kale the new ‘it’ ingredient du jour? It’s like Kale is the new donut which was the new cupcake which was the new bacon which was the new squash blossom and so on. The good news is that when restaurateurs and chefs render a healthy ingredient as ‘trendy,’ (versus my beloved bacon) we all win! Why? Because generally this means that the selected item is reinvented and reimagined in new culinary ways we couldn’t have ever dreamed of. Sure, I can easily process kale through my juicer for an energizing (and alkalizing) green juice or blend it up with other fruits and veggies to create a hearty smoothie. But using kale in unconventional ways, like as a pesto or in a stew, and even in muffins, is a fun, if not experimental, adventure in the kitchen!
My cousin David is the executive chef at a top restaurant in Chicago and just unveiled a new salad featuring… you guessed it, kale. Trust me when I say this thing is delicious! It features massaged Tuscan kale (all the cool kids know you have to give your raw kale a good rub down before serving – it softens the leaves and fibers, making the eating experience far more enjoyable), super sweet oven dried tomatoes, freshly grated parmesan cheese, rosemary focaccia croutons, and lemon caesar dressing. While he was shifty about giving away the official secret recipe that the restaurant serves, I’ve used his salad as a thought starter for another salad that is equally delicious and just a touch more filling. Forget about just being trendy. This salad is perfect for digging in to when you’re starving and want something both fresh and hearty. I predict it will give David’s salad a run for its money… Game on!
8-Ingredient Kale Extravaganza Salad
- Large bowl of washed, organic kale – fibrous ribs removed and massaged with a scant drizzle of olive oil
- 1 cup of mixed greens and herbs (mine at the grocery store comes pre-mixed with dill, cilantro, micro greens, etc…)
- Kernels of one raw sweet corn
- Handful of grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 Haas avocado, cubed
- Half cup shredded carrots
- 1/3 cup of edamame beans or green peas
- Ezekial croutons (to make, just toast an Ezekial sprouted whole grain English muffin and cube)
Nikki’s ‘Clean and Easy’ Dressing (1 heaping spoonful of Dijon mustard, ¼ cup white balsamic vinegar, dash of garlic powder, salt and pepper. Drizzle in good quality olive oil until emulsified. If you prefer a sweeter dressing, add a touch of agave nectar or honey).
Arrange your Kale Extravaganza Salad in layers – starting with the kale on the bottom, mixed greens next and topping with the corn, carrots, edamame and then avocado. Add the croutons last to ensure they stay crunchy. Drizzle on your desired amount of dressing and enjoy!