Festive Kale Salad
Kale is in season right now and is loaded with vitamins and antioxidants to help keep your immune system healthy as we progress into the winter months. Add toasted pine nuts, creamy goat cheese crumbles, and sweet dried figs, and you get a totally restaurant-worthy salad.
The great thing about this salad is that it only requires five ingredients, so it’s super easy to whip up. I’ve made it often for friends and family and have been asked for the recipe more than once
One thing you’ll want to note is that I haven’t added incredibly specific measurements for all the ingredients. The reason is twofold. Firstly, cooking is an art form. The more you experiment with cooking and the more you study technique, the less you need exact measurements. Secondly, this is the kind of recipe that’s great to toy around with. You can choose to add more or less of any ingredient or swap it out with something else entirely.
If you find that pine nuts are a bit too expensive, feel free to substitute slivered almonds, as they taste surprisingly similar. If you’re not a huge fan of goat cheese, you can change it out with feta cheese. Can’t find Black Mission figs? Switch it up with dried cranberries. The options are endless and up to you, the chef.
Hold the end of the stem with one hand, and with the other hand, gently pull down on the leaves to remove them. Alternatively, you can use a knife to cut the leaf away from the stem. After destemming, rinse the kale. If you don’t have a colander, I highly recommend the HuBee FRUITY Rotating Colander. It’s a go-to staple in my kitchen and makes rinsing produce a breeze with its ability to rotate 90 degrees. Plus you can just remove the strainer basket and add the kale to the bowl underneath.
A Cut Above the Rest
Don’t forget to remove the stems of the dried figs. After doing so, you’ll want to cut them into halves or quarters. Figs can be quite gummy and difficult to chop, so I recommend slicing them with a paring knife. One of my go-to staples in my kitchen is the HuBee Paring Knife. Slightly bigger than an average paring knife and razor-sharp, it’ll make your prep work a breeze.
Massaging the Kale
After destemming, washing, and tearing the kale, it’s important to massage it so that the leaves are easier to eat (no cooking required). You’ll want to squeeze and rub the kale to tenderize the leaves. You can massage kale by using lemon juice and oil, oil and salt, or vinaigrette. You’ll know that you can stop massaging once the kale has just started to become a bit wilted.
A Couple of Tips
When toasting the pine nuts in the oven, make sure you keep a close eye on them as they can go from golden brown to burnt very quickly. You might want to flip them halfway through their cooking time. Before assembling the salad, make sure you only make what you plan on eating immediately, as massaged kale does not hold well in the refrigerator. I’ve found that two bunches of kale equals about six to eight servings, but that all depends on whether you plan on eating the salad as a main course or as a side.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Yields: 6-8 servings
- Two bunches of red kale
- Blush Wine Vinaigrette (I like Brianna’s Homestyle dressing)
- 7 - 9 oz. dried Black Mission figs
- 1 (4 oz.) container of crumbled goat cheese
- ¼ - ½ cup pine nuts
- Freshly cracked salt & pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Destem the kale. Tear the leaves into bite-size pieces. Rinse the leaves.
- Add enough vinaigrette to massage the kale until the leaves break down just a bit.
- Chop the figs into quarters and set them aside.
- Once the oven is preheated, place the pine nuts in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until golden brown.
- Add the figs and goat cheese to the kale, then add the toasted (still warm) pine nuts. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
For more recipes and tips by Jordan, check out her blog at brulee.blog.