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Keep it simple!
Salads are the ultimate customizable food, right? This version of a simple kale salad is truly a pantry-pull of ingredients I had on-hand! This recipe has enormous versatility, and you should try different ingredients each time until you find your perfect combination.
Massage the kale?!?
Yes, you need to massage your kale! Kale is a sturdy green, and can be a bit fibrous and tough if you don’t help it along a bit. A quick massage will soften it up and makei t much more yummy!
How to massage your kale:
- Place your chopped or torn kale in a large bowl
- You MAY drizzle a tiny bit of oil or lemon juice before massaging – but it’s not necessary
- Open your hand wide and grab the largest handful of kale you can, and give it a tight squeeze, then toss it back in the bowl!
- Repeat this for a minute or so – you will see the kale darken in color a bit and it will soften up.
- That’s it!
Toss in your favorite salad ingredients
For our simple kale salad, we are using carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, raising and sunflower seeds!
How do you choose your ingredients?
Honestly? Trial and error. What’s the worst that can happen?
Kale is very hearty and has an earthy, grassy, almost bitter (in a good way) taste. Any time you have a predominant type of flavors, it’s a good bet you will be happiest if you BALANCE that with other types of flavors. In my salads I try to cover these bases:
- Earthy/Green: This is usually covered by the greens you are using. In this case, Kale more than fits the bill.
- Sweet: Raisins, cranberries, blueberries, tomatoes
- Crisp: Fresh veggies that hold a crunch. Cucumbers, zucchini, carrots, radishes, jicama,
- Salty: Seeds/nuts give a good kick of salt – this is also usually covered by a good vinaigrette
- Other texture: I love sprouts in a salad! They have a great nutty quality and they give a pop of texture that’s unique from the other ingredients
Pick 1 or 2 ingredients from each category, and your simple kale salad will be a success.
What about dressing?
Your dressing can actually fall into one of the categories as well. Some dressings are sweet, some acidic, salty, etc. I find that the best option for a simple kale salad is a vinegar-based dressing. Making your own vinaigrette is only a matter of tossing a few things in a jar and shaking! The red wine and mustard in our dressing make a perfect contrast to the other notes we’ve got going on in our simple kale salad.
Simple Kale Salad
Just a few minutes & a few ingredients, and you can enjoy this bright, crisp kale salad with zucchini, cucumber, & red wine vinaigrette.
- 4 cups chopped kale
- ½ teaspoon red wine vinegar (or lemon juice)
- 1 cup grated carrot
- 1 small zucchini, sliced in half-rounds
- ½ of an English cucumber, peeled and sliced in half-rounds
- 3 tablespoons raisins or dried cranberries
- 3 tablespoons sunflower seeds
For the dressing:
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon brown or dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Pinch cayenne
- Place the chopped kale in a large bowl and sprinkle ½ teaspoon of red wine vinegar or lemon juice.
- Use your hand to ‘massage’ the kale by firmly squeezing handfuls of kale and mixing as you go. Continue for 1 minute.
- Add remaining salad ingredients to the bowl with the kale
- In a sealable jar or Tupperware, combine all dressing ingredients, seal and shake vigorously for 1 minute.
- Pour dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Serve immediately or chill in the refrigerator.