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glad i did that

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

toasted seeds

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

colorful confetti

Confetti Kale Salad
[print recipe]

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

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.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

shredded kale salad shredded brussels sprouts and kale salad kale pepita cranberry salad crunchy kale salad

11 nibbles at “glad i did that”

  1. Pey-Lih says:

    You crack me up….you are the first person I know that does not like smoothies. Oh well, there has to be someone who doesn’t. The salad looks wonderful! I have a horrible cough that won’t go away – drats!

  2. Chefhelen says:

    This is funny. I’m neither a fan of smoothies (why drink your calories when you can eat ’em?) or kale. I have tried kale in a number of ways and while I will never turn down something that’s offered (one shouldn’t be rude) I still pretty much hate it. Kale and sweet potatoes, bleah! I’m glad other folks like it though!

  3. Helen says:

    Chefhelen, you and I must be the only kale haters in the planet. Must be our names. Glad I found a kindred soul. I’ll make this salad with some other green. It looks too good not to tinker with. I wish Jen and Jeremy were my neighbors.

  4. Bette says:

    Another smoothie hater here! Glad to know I’m not alone.

    This salad looks fantastic — heading to the grocery store later today to buy the ingredients. Thank you!

  5. Kristin says:

    I’m always happy to have another kale salad in the repertoire, and can’t wait to try this!

  6. Liz says:

    I love your blog…in fact you are one of the reasons my husband and I moved to Colorado almost 2 years ago now. It was one of the best decisions of my life to relocate from New Hampshire. You painted such a pretty picture with your photos and words that when we had the chance to do so we jumped! We chose the Western Slope because it’s little warmer and not as much snow where we are. But the wildlife is abundant and the scenery is majestic to say the least!! So thank you for all of your beautiful pictures and great recipes, I can’t wait to try this one, it’s so pretty! Oh I also love Sponge Bob Square Pants and I dislike smoothies as well. I just figure that at some point in life we’ll all be drinking our food so why rush it, lol!! Give me real fruits and veggies any day yay!!

  7. Linda E says:

    In Northern Germany, kale is the default “special vegetable” of the winter season, usually cooked for hours and hours with sausages that render lots and lots of *fat* into the veggies. Which means that the meal is generally topped off with a glass of “schnapps” strong enough to kill ’em all. I am sooo looking forward to serving this salad and watching the amazed looks on the enjoyers’ faces when I say, “Ist doch Gruenkohl, meine Lieben”. – Might I mention that your blog is a great joy?

  8. Shari Q. says:

    That salad looks amazing!

  9. angelitacarmelita says:

    Wow Jen, not just a few of my favorite things, but like ALL of my favorite things are in that salad! You’d be loving it here (in the NE) today because we’re expecting 30 inches of snow! Can’t wait to try this, thanks!

  10. Lisa says:

    Just made this and it is great…only change is that I would make less dressing. It was a wee bit too gloopy.

  11. jenyu says:

    Pey-Lih – I just prefer to eat my calories.

    Chefhelen – we are in agreement about smoothies, and let’s face it – kale in smoothies is an abomination ;) But kale itself, I really do like. I just don’t feel that it needs to be in EVERYTHING like the trend has been of late. Moderation in all things, right?

    Helen – yes, I think it would be just great with two kinds of cabbage!

    Bette – ha! :)

    Kristin – yay!

    Liz – wow, what an amazing thing you guys did. Western Slope is pretty beautiful and definitely warmer. Really glad you guys are living the dream and seeing lots of great wildlife! xxoo

    Linda – that’s so strange that it isn’t eaten raw! Well, I hope they like it :) You are so very sweet xo

    Shari – thank you!

    angelitacarmelita – you’re welcome :)

    Lisa – ah, I should edit the recipe. I didn’t use all of the dressing, but served any extra on the side (for dressing lovers).

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