We didn't get anything close to the two feet of snow we were promised, but I'm not turning down a mid-week snow day from work. And while the world outside is blanketed in soft white powder (and, ok, yes, dreary grey slush), what could be better than a big bowl of bright green joy?
Yes, joy, because that's how this salad looks and tastes and makes you feel, and it's one of the most comforting and easiest things and tastes not a bit like health food, thanks to plenty of rich creamy avocado, but your body knows you're doing something good for it and will respond accordingly.
And, yes, I know, kale salads (and kale generally) have been done to death and could I be more Brooklyn-in-2013, but making this recently reminded me again of how much I love it so I just had to share it. Haters to the left.
This salad is pretty adaptable, but there are a few key musts:
Massage the kale: After washing and drying the kale, give it a little TLC. For one 16 ounce bag of kale, I used a little more than 1/3 of a cup of olive oil, juice from one (pretty juicy) lemon, and a couple healthy pinches of sea salt. Then use your clean hands and get to work! Massaging the kale with the oil and lemon and salt breaks down the tough fibers so you end up with a tender, flavorful bite. Spend a few minutes and then try a piece - if it tastes too rough, keep going, and add more olive oil/lemon juice/salt as needed.
Add some avocado: After massaging the kale, I sliced one large ripe avocado and tossed it on top, then gave the salad a few good tosses to help the avocado break up and coat the leaves evenly.
Add your toppings: I went with two diced Gala apples (other varieties work here too - I just wouldn't use a green apple because that might be too tart and I like adding a little bit of sweetness), one sliced shallot, and about 1/3 cup of pistachios. I finished it all of with a swirl of really good balsamic vinegar (I would skip this if you don't have a splurge-y vinegar: you don't really need any extra acid since the salad should have plenty of brightness from the lemon juice, but a good balsamic, that has some complexity beyond just sweet, can add some depth).
Other good toppings: pomegranate seeds, thinly sliced fennel, toasted walnuts, or even some crumbled goat cheese. Other folks like adding dried cranberries or raisins - I'm not much of a fan, but whatever floats your boat/makes you happy when you eat salad.
If adding nuts, toss them in right before serving, otherwise they'll get a little soggy. Everything else about the salad keeps beautifully, making it a perfect make-ahead lunch (which is what I did with this salad) or something to serve at a buffet-style party where the food will be sitting out (which I did last Sunday at a baby shower I organized for my friends).
I love having kale salad in the rotation - it looks (and is) virtuous while tasting absolutely delicious, and the hardy kale can be easier to work with since it lasts longer and doesn't wilt the way delicate (and out of season) lettuces do.