I have a new obsession. And yes, I realized I am waaaaay late to the party on this one. It is not because I think kale is gross or that I would not like kale salads. I ate them cheerfully when they were served to me. But massaging the kale? It just sounded a little weird.
My parents came for dinner recently, with many hints about how much they were looking forward to the meal. Ha! Talk about hinting! We would not be ordering pizza that’s for sure! And they know I am a sucker for praise–if you love my food and fuss over it, chances are I will make it for you. A lot. So at crunch time I came up with a pasta dish that I will be sharing soon, the chocolate mousse and Chocolate Chip Cookies with Almonds and Zucchini that I have already discussed, and this salad (I also served a simple pan fried tilapia).
I was very excited to try making this salad. I had a vision in my mind of exactly what I was going for, and I am happy to say that despite my trepidation (and muttering about the weirdness of massaging lettuce, during which time my mom kept shooting me looks of confusion) this salad worked perfectly. So much so that I immediately turned around and made a slightly different version a few days later. So I have written the instructions to include either version.
And what did my parents think? They loved it! My mom was amazed at the changes some massaging could bring about (once again, not news to the foodie world, but it was new for us) and she thought the peaches were perfect. So did Alex, who complained bitterly when I switched the peaches for apples in the next salad. My girls also both loved this salad, leading me to believe that we will be seeing it a lot more often in our house! John liked the second salad (see ingredients in parentheses) better, as did I. Alex preferred the first. Sammy liked both.
- 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
- 1-2 T maple syrup or honey, to taste
- pinch of salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 - 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, to taste (I prefer a tart dressing)
- 2 bunches kale, rinsed, stems removed, and thinly sliced
- 1 bunch red leaf lettuce, rinsed, thinly sliced (or frisée)
- 1 candy onion, thinly sliced and soaked in cold water for 15 minutes (red onion can be used but soak in 2 changes of water for twice as long in that case if raw onions bother you)
- 6-10 pitted dates, thinly sliced (or pitted prunes), to taste
- 4 peaches, cleaned and thinly sliced (or Fuji apples)
- 6 oz crumbled blue cheese of choice--my favorite right now is Roth Buttermilk Blue
Begin by whisking the vinegar, maple syrup (or honey) and salt and pepper together. Then, constantly whisking, add the olive oil in a thin stream. The dressing should emulsify. Then set aside. It will separate a little, but that is ok, just whisk again before using.
Prepare the kale first. Place in a large bowl--it will be quite voluminous at this point. Drizzle about half of your dressing over the kale and begin massaging. You are looking for the kale to darken in color and literally deflate--the kale should appear to decrease by half. You can do this much in advance and place the kale in the fridge in a sealed container until you need it (do not do more than 12 hours in advance).
When you are ready to serve, toss the remaining ingredients into the salad. Make sure that the fresh fruit (peaches or apples) get tossed with dressing--add more dressing as you do this--as that will keep them from discoloring. Save some extra cheese and fruit slices to scatter on top.
I have kept this salad successfully for as long as 3 days. If you want to keep it longer (for leftovers--guests should get it much sooner as it will deflate a bit) I would use 100% kale and no other lettuce greens.