This simple kale salad is showing up all over my weekly menus - it's versatile, fresh, and I can't get enough of it!
Now that we're officially in the fall season, are you feeling fall-ish yet??? If so, I'm jealous. This past weekend we went mum and pumpkin shopping at a local garden center. I'm sad to say we weren't very successful - we didn't buy any of either. Could it have been the 89º weather that felt like 99°? Or maybe the fact that the large mums were a whopping $29.99? I'm thinking it was a combination of the two; and the fact that the cute little old man who was selling pumpkins told us that if it rained a lot in the next few weeks, our pumpkins wouldn't make it to Halloween before they started to rot. And that is no bueno.
In the end, with my fall decorating budget being $40, I settled on two huge heads of kale for $8 a piece. I was told we could eat off of them and they would stay good and hearty until early December, which hopefully means I'll get a lot of bang for my buck. I'm holding off on buying the pumpkins for another 2 weeks or so - mainly because once I buy them, I'd really like to get a good ROI and have them last until Thanksgiving. Oh the dilemmas of seasonal decor!
Moving on to the topic of food - which is likely why you're here - this simple kale salad showed up in three different ways last week: we had it as a side dish with pizza on Monday, we made a big version and took it to our bible study get together on Tuesday, then I stuffed it in pitas with buffalo chicken for dinner on Wednesday and lunch on Thursday. That, my friend, is what making your kale work for you looks like.
I've been making this salad for a couple of years now - it's a fool-proof side dish that can easily turn into the main course with the addition of this or that. The light vinaigrette perfectly tenderizes the kale so you don't feel like you're eating something the rabbits should have. It's reminiscent of a Caesar salad in flavor, and honestly, I just love it SO very much. It's also the perfect vehicle for homemade croutons - the kind you make with bakery bread that's just a day past sandwich-making eligibility. Give it try and let me know how it shows up in your weekly meal rotation!
Simple Kale Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette and Italian Croutons
For the croutons:
- 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 4 slices dry old bread (I typically use 5-7 day old French, wheat, or sourdough), cut into ½’’ cubes
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon coarse ground Kosher salt
For the salad:
- 7 cups of green kale about 2 bunches, washed, stems removed, and torn into bite-sized pieces (I cheat and buy the bag of pre-chopped kale and just pick the little stem pieces out)
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
Making the croutons:
- Place a medium-size skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the butter and olive oil. When the butter has melted, add the bread cubes and toss to coat them.
- Toast the bread in the pan for 2-3 minutes before stirring. Toast an additional 3 minutes until the cubes are golden brown and crunchy. Remove from heat and sprinkle with Italian seasoning and salt. Set aside until you are ready to serve the salad (do not make more than 1 hour before serving the salad).
For the salad
- Place the kale in a large serving bowl or a large airtight container that you plan to store it in.
- In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, soy sauce, and olive oil by stirring slightly with a whisk. Pour the entire mixture over the kale leaves.
- Using clean hands, massage the liquid into the kale leaves, rubbing the leaves between your fingers. Do this for 2-3 minutes. The kale will become a little darker in color, shrink in volume by about ?, and have a nice sheen to it. Place in the refrigerator until ready to serve and up to 2 days for use on salads, sandwiches, pizza, etc.
- When ready to serve, top with Parmesan cheese and croutons. Serve right away.