Kale Salad (With Variations)

Simple Kale Salad With Cheese
Kale Salad. PoppyB/Getty Images
  • 15 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins,
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings
Ratings

Tuscan, black, or dino kale has dark green, deeply curly leaves that are usually cooked—often for a fair amount of time—to soften their firm, fibrous texture. In this recipe, those sometimes tough leaves are simply sliced thin, tossed with a bright dressing, and served raw to great effect.

Is raw kale a bit tough for your taste, even when thinly sliced? Try giving it a hearty massage first. That's right, massage. Grab handfuls of the leaves and rub them - as vigorously as you like - to break down their fibers for a more tender texture. Really get in there and beat those leaves up. It's a great stress reliever, if you want to think of it that way, and terribly satisfying to squeeze and rub the leaves, watching as they start to soften and turn a darker shade of green as you go.

Scroll down for variations and additions to build on this simple salad.

What You'll Need

  • 1 head Tuscan, black, or Dino kale
  • 1 small shallot or garlic clove
  • 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (optional)

How to Make It

  1. Rinse kale leaves and pat them dry. Trim off stem ends and slice the leaves, crosswise, into ribbon-like pieces. Set aside.
  2. Finely mince the shallot or garlic clove and put it in a large salad bowl. Add vinegar and sugar and let sit 10 minutes. Whisk in oil and add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Add kale and toss gently until the leaves are evenly coated. Add Parmesan, if you like, and toss to combine.

Variations & Additions

This is clearly a very simple creation, just dressed kale leaves. If you want a bit more going on, try these suggestions:

  • Add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes to the dressing for a spicy kick
  • Crumble in 1/2 cup blue cheese (kale goes great with blue cheese!)
  • Cut half a red onion into slivers and add it to the dressing, letting the onion sit for about 15 minutes before tossing in the kale to let it mellow and soften
  • Mash 1 anchovy filet into the dressing for a deep, umami edge
  • Toss in cubes of roasted butternut squash or persimmon for some bright orange contrast
  • Sprinkle on dried cranberries or blueberries for a sweet-tart edge
  • Mince 2 dates into the dressing in place of the sugar for an earthy sweet version
  • Toast up some hand-torn croutons to add some hearty crunch
  • Add a handful or two of toasted nuts—walnuts, almonds, and pecans are particularly good choices
  • Finely chop some preserved lemon and add it to the dressing, using lemon juice in place of red wine vinegar, if you like, for a lemony take 
  • Thinly sliced apple or pear adds sweet crunch