As I introduce our new Apple Harvest Salad, I have to ask–Are you a kale lover or a kale skeptic? I tend to be a bit of both. Why? Because I only enjoy kale when it’s easy to eat! Sometimes the tough leaves and thick stems of full-size kale rule it out as a good salad base. However, my mind was changed the day I was introduced to the concept of massaging the kale first. Yes, you read that right – I said massage the kale.
It’s actually really easy (albeit a bit messy unless you wear gloves!). To massage kale, you simply combine bite-size kale pieces (stems removed) with your dressing of choice and, with clean hands, squeeze and massage the dressing into the kale, sort of like you’re kneading dough. Start with a smaller amount of dressing than you think you need because as the kale is massaged it will reduce in size.
Here at the farm we’re using baby salad kale in our Apple Harvest Salad, which is tender and sweet, so we don’t need to massage our kale. But if you’re like me and you start craving this salad when baby kale isn’t available, keep this technique in your back pocket for making tougher kale tender and edible.
Now that I’ve given you my favorite kale trick, I’d like to like to tell you more about my favorite fall kale salad! Actually, I make this salad all year long because it’s just so good. When we make this in our farm kitchen, we use locally grown, crisp, sweet-tart Cortland apples from nearby Alson Farms, sharp cheddar cheese, a sweet-and-salty pepita crunch topping made with local honey, and a cinnamon vinaigrette with a slight red pepper kick.
Although the above is my personal favorite combination, I’ve also swapped out the cheddar cheese for a softer feta or goat cheese. And when pressed for time, I’ve skipped the crunchy pepita topping and used plain walnuts or pecans instead. I’ve even added pears along with the apples for a different flavor. Finally, one more plus for this salad is it will last for a day or two longer than most pre-dressed salads because of kale’s heartiness.
I truly hope you enjoy our Apple Harvest Salad as much as I do! – Beth Earnshaw, Culinary Assistant at Perkins’ Good Earth Farm
Apple Harvest Salad
Our Apple Harvest Salad combines our salad kale with Cortland apples, sharp cheddar cheese, a crunchy pepita topping, and cinnamon vinaigrette.
Servings: 6 people
- cutting board
- chef's knife
- parchment paper
- dressing jar
- 1 pound salad kale
- 2 apples, thinly sliced we use Cortland
- 12 ounces sharp white cheddar cubed, crumbled, or grated
Crunchy Pepita Topping
- 1 cup pepitas raw
- 3 tbsp honey
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 6 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp organic sugar
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- 3 shallots minced
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp salt add up to 1/4 tsp more, to taste
- 3 cranks freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup avocado oil or other neutral oil
Crunchy Pepita Topping
- Heat nonstick skillet over low heat. Add pepitas, stirring until fragrant.
- Stir together honey, red pepper flakes, nutmeg and salt. Pour over pepitas, stirring until well combined. Wait for honey to bubble, then stir again for 3-5 minutes. Spread pepita-honey mixture on parchment paper in single layer. Let cool.
- Combine all dressing ingredients in Ball jar. Seal jar, then shake until ingredients are thoroughly combined. You can also use a food processor or Vitamix. If you use a food processor or Vitamix, process all ingredients except. Then, leaving processor running, add oil in a drizzle until fully incorporated.
- Place the salad kale in a large bowl. Toss kale with dressing until all leaves are lightly coated. Sprinkle cheese, apples, and crunchy pepitas over the kale. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
Beth's idea for this salad was inspired by this recipe from How Sweet Eats. As always, we recommend using ingredients found as close to home as possible! We use our organic kale, shallots, and garlic in this recipe, as well as local honey and apples. So much goodness!