Recipe: confetti kale salad
Now that was a good long weekend over here in Butterland! Jeremy and I hosted a dinner party for friends we’ve been meaning to introduce to one another for some time, which was great fun. Then we hunkered down to get some work done AND watch the second SpongeBob SquarePants movie (because SpongeBob is awesome) while the winds blew every last snowflake into Kansas. Thankfully, the mountains keep their snow better than our neighborhood does, which meant a surprise powder day at our local ski hill and a lovely ski tour with Neva and friends into the backcountry. To top it all off, Jeremy installed a new microwave to replace the old, broken, very, very sad old one (to be recycled).
dinner with friends
It wasn’t clear that we were going to ski at first. Old Me would have automatically ruled out skiing on a windy (miserable) weekend (crowded), but Present Me shouted, “7 inches overnight and it is still snowing!” The thing about mountain weather is that you don’t really know what it is doing elsewhere until you are there – at elsewhere. Based on the howling winds overnight, we assumed the snow that fell had already been windswept and wind-slabbed. I could tell Jeremy wanted to pull the covers over his head and sleep, so I offered that we go up to the mountain, check out the snow, and if it sucked, return home. One of the perks of being a local, right? But we didn’t go home. Not until we skied our fill of the lovely, deep powder. At the summit, it was a full on wind storm strong enough to carry tiny balls of ice through the air to pelt you in the face. However, in the lee of the mountain and in the glades, it was pure bliss hitting powder, run after run.
ski the pow until it’s gone
jeremy gets his turns in the snow-plastered glades
This morning, Jeremy, Erin, Banjo, Neva, and I set out for a ski tour. It was a task just putting our boots on as the winds carried our shoes across the parking lot until we chased them down. We consider 23°F to be warm, but 50 mph gusts can really suck the heat right out of you. Once we wrangled our gear and the pups and began to climb into the shelter of the trees, everything was fine. Breezy, but not offensive. It was wonderful. What I’ve learned from living in the mountains for over a decade is that it’s usually more fun outside than it would seem from behind your windows. Of course, there are times when the suckage is real and it’s truly in your best interest to turn back and be safe. In general though, I’m almost always glad I got out there.
my pack in the high country
It’s the same with food. How can you discover a new favorite salad if you don’t leave your comfort zone? Every time we drove from Nederland to Crested Butte last summer, we had to make several stops along the way to let Neva empty her little puppy bladder. One of our favorite stops was the Whole Foods in Frisco (just outside of Breckenridge) because we could get a non-greasy lunch and there was a grassy field for Neva to do her puppy business. Jeremy likes to get one of the same two things every time – the cioppino or the chicken caesar. Then one day the store was out of both. He was walking the pup in the rain and I was filling a to-go box with my own salad, so I doubled up on the salad and presented it to him in the car, “This is what you’re eating for lunch.” And he loved it. It’s currently my favorite kale salad (and I like a lot of kale salads), but I’ve taken to making it at home because the Whole Foods salad bar is crazy expensive.
kale, red cabbage, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, dried apple pieces, almond slivers, garlic, salt, dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, pepper
Even though kale has gained a reputation as a superfood of late, I’ve had an ongoing love affair with it for over forty years. My mom would sauté it and I would pretend to be a manatee while I stuffed it into my mouth. I stopped pretending to be a manatee when I went to college, but I still stuffed my face with kale. The one thing I won’t do is put it in smoothies because I hate smoothies. I actually like the texture and taste of my fruits and vegetables. That’s part of the reason I love this salad. It has lots of crunch from the cabbage, nuts, and seeds. The dried fruits lend a pleasant chewiness and sweetness to each bite, and the vinaigrette is tart, but smooth. All of this against the backdrop of slightly bitter, tender, earthy kale.
strip the leafy part of the kale from the rib
shred the kale
sliced red cabbage
You may or may not care about the color of your salad, but I stood in the produce aisle debating between green kale and red cabbage or red kale and green cabbage. Go with your gut, or your wallet. Kale and cabbage can’t be wrong. DO toast the seeds and nuts if they aren’t already toasted. It brings a nuttier flavor to your salad that I find very pleasing in combination with the dressing. Oh, and if you’re allergic to nuts – don’t add nuts. Also? I’ve been known to toss in some chick peas, edamame, and/or beets. As long as you like it, it’s good. I opted for dried over fresh fruit just because the dried fruit adds a chew that fresh fruit lacks. My dressing of choice is a balsamic vinaigrette, but I think any sort of vinaigrette would work here.
mash the garlic and salt into a paste
whisk the olive oil into the balsamic vinegar, mustard, and garlic mash
season with salt and pepper
Fill a large bowl with all of the ingredients and toss them together. This salad can be tossed a few hours ahead of time and still retain its texture. I like to save out some of the dried fruit, nuts, and seeds to garnish the salad before serving. Not only is it a wholly satisfying and delicious salad, but it’s colorful and pretty (great for parties). It’s already vegan, but if you wanted to omnivorize it, I imagine it would be good with grilled chicken or salmon. Or keep it vegan and add some baked or fried tofu.
place it all in a bowl
toss to coat
garnish with more seeds, fruit, and nuts
Confetti Kale Salad
1 bunch (about 8 leaves) kale
4 cups (about 1/2 medium head) red cabbage, shredded
1 cup dried apples, chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup toasted pepitas/pumpkin seeds
1 cup toasted sunflower seeds
1 cup sliced toasted almonds
1 1/3 cup balsamic vinaigrette
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsps balsamic vinegar
2 tbsps dijon mustard
1 cup olive oil (or less)
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Make the dressing: Place the minced garlic in a small pile on a cutting board. Sprinkle half the salt over the garlic. Angle a chef’s knife nearly horizontal to the cutting board and smash the salt into the garlic until it resembles a paste. Combine the balsamic vinegar, mustard, and smashed garlic in a medium bowl. Slowly drizzle the olive oil into the bowl while constantly whisking. Periodically taste the dressing and stop adding oil when it tastes right to you. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Assemble the salad: Toss the kale, cabbage, dried apples, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, and half the balsamic vinaigrette together in a large bowl. Add more vinaigrette to taste. Serve the remaining dressing on the side. You can add other ingredients as you desire (chick peas, beets, edamame, etc.). Serves 4-6.
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