The first time I made this salad—as a side dish for a family get-together this summer—I almost exactly followed the recipe I found on Epicurious’s website. We liked the salad so much, Dan made it for our 4-year-old’s preschool potluck, but he made a couple changes (including cutting out the red pepper flakes to make it more kid-friendly!)–and it all got eaten! Today, the recipe I’m sharing has received a substitution here and an addition there, based on what sounds tasty to me and what I have in the house.
One advantage of this salad is that you can prepare most of it ahead of time, including pre-dressing the greens. Pre-dressing doesn’t work well for salads with delicate greens like spinach and baby lettuces, but sturdy kale leaves are tenderized by the dressing, leaving the perfect texture bite after bite.
Before we get to the recipe, let’s talk a little bit more about the kale. In your share, you’ll receive two varieties: Lacinato (also known as dinosaur kale) and Siberian. Both these varieties are known for their tenderness, so they work really well raw in salads. The Lacinato is, in my opinion, a bit sweeter than the Siberian. The Lacinato is what my boys eat raw from the field, although their choice might just result from getting to say they’re eating dinosaur kale.
Let’s start with the veggie prep. Finely chop part of a green onion, enough to give you 3 tablespoons chopped. Set those aside and turn to your kale. You’re going to need about ¼ pound kale for this recipe, which is what half share farm members will receive in their share this week (full share, you got a ½ pound, so go ahead and split it in half or double your recipe!).
Remove the kale leaves from the stem. Compost the stems (or use them in a soup!), and finely chop the kale into bite-size pieces.
Now it’s time for the dressing. Whisk together the lemon juice, chopped green onions, honey, salt and red pepper flakes (if using) in a medium-sized bowl; I used my 8-cup Pampered Chef batter bowl.
A quick note about the ingredients in the dressing. Instead of bottled lemon juice, I used fresh-squeezed. I used local honey from Van Kley’s Blueberry Farm, purchased at Belstra Milling. And, finally, I had the privilege of using French sea salt (fleur de sel de guérande) that a dear friend gave me after her trip to France this summer. My point: I encourage you, if you have the opportunity, to use the best ingredients possible when making your salad, or any dish for that any matter! (And lest you think I’m becoming a kitchen snob, I also dropped my container of red pepper flakes and had to take a break to sweep the floor in the middle of making this recipe. I guess that makes me a kitchen klutz.)
Back to the salad. Add the kale and toss well. If using the aforementioned batter bowl, just put on the lid and shake the bowl around, leaving one hand on the lid, just in case.
Let the dressed kale sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, toast 1/3 cup slivered almonds over medium heat in a dry skillet for 5-7 minutes. Stir constantly; these guys can go from nicely toasted to burnt in short time. Remove from the skillet and let cool.
Next, chop up an some dried figs and a half an apple. I used Honeycrisp that Dan, Harper, and Asher picked from Mowry’s Fruit Farm in Crown Point, but you can also use a tart apple if you want greater contrast with the sweet figs.
Once your kale has sat for 20 minutes, toss with a couple tablespoons of olive oil, and voilà, your greens are dressed and ready to go! At this point, you can refrigerate the greens for up to a day, or serve right away. Right before serving, toss with a portion of the almonds, apples, and figs, leaving a little of each to decorate the top of your salad. Finally, sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan or Romano. Enjoy!
How did you end up changing this recipe? Let me know by leaving a comment!
Photography and Food Styling: Julie Oudman Perkins