Monday, November 25, 2013

Chopped Kale Salad {The Perfect Winter Mix}

One of the greatest things about cooking is the opportunity it offers for change. You never have to rest on your laurels.. a single recipe (or idea) in hand, blindly and boringly eating the same old thing, day after day. A simple tweak to an old favorite plating, the introduction of a new flavor or pairing of ingredients, or a bit of inspiration from the world around you… and voila… you have something new to enjoy.  

This particular Chopped Kale Salad was born of a little of all the above. I make a lot of kale salads but this one was, surprisingly, inspired by a packaged salad at a favorite deli that was grabbed on-the-go, late in the afternoon, midway through a long checklist of errands. Desperate for something to eat, I popped into the deli along with an unexpected throng of other late-afternoon seekers of sustenance and quickly got sidelined along the sandwich and salad cold case. A long soup line was the tie-up, and one guaranteed to imped any thorough selection process. So, the cold case it was. Among the options was a little packaged kale “vegan” salad… with romaine, red cabbage, carrot, sugar peas, apples, grapes, and other bits and pieces mixed in with a tahini-based dressing. I loved it… and I loved that it incorporated so much of what can be gathered from a winter’s bounty into one healthy salad that would give any summer salad a run for its money. (I happen to believe that salads are equal opportunity seasonal fare… you just have to embrace the possibilities).

My version of this kale salad has much of what that little inspiration offered, with some of my own twists… crisp, leafy green kale and romaine leaves, purple cabbage, red onion, carrot, sugar snap peas, broccoli, apple, grapes and macadamia nuts… mixed with a white miso-tamari-orange vinaigrette that’s sweeten with a bit of honey (so not technically “vegan”).

Apart from the abundant nutritional value a salad like this offers, it’s just deliciously crunchy, savory-sweet, and popping with a bit of everything in every bite… like a good chop should… even in Winter.

Chopped Kale Salad {The Perfect Winter Mix}
Served 4 to 6

4 cups finely chopped green kale
3 cups finely chopped romaine leaves
1 cup thinly sliced sugar snap peas
2 cups finely chopped broccoli florets
2 cups finely chopped purple cabbage
1 cup shredded carrot
½ cup diced red onion*
¾ cup halved (or quartered) red, seedless grapes
1 apple, cored and finely diced
½ cup chopped macadamia nuts

* place sliced onion in a bowl of cold water for about 10-15 minutes to help tame pungency. Then dice for salad.

for dressing:
1 tablespoon white miso paste
1 teaspoon tamari
1 teaspoon honey
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon honey mustard
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (a fruity variety, or as preferred)

In a bowl, whisk together first six ingredients for dressing (through honey mustard), until miso and honey are completely incorporated. Drizzle in olive oil and mix thoroughly, until combined. Set aside.

In a large bowl, toss salad ingredients together with dressing and serve.

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