Bright, fresh, and easy to prepare, Northwest Celebration Kale Chopped Salad is full of fresh flavors and is perfect for the holiday table to any night of the week!
So, I have a confession to make.
I don't really like kale.
Is that bad? I know as someone who promotes healthy eating and living I'm supposed to love kale.
But I just don't. In it's raw form I find it hard to chew, lacking flavor, and overall unpleasant to eat.
There. I said it.
Add it to smoothies or throw it in a stir-fry and I'm good. But give me a giant (raw) kale salad and I'll take a hard pass.
I discovered recently, though, that if you give kale a good massage with some acid it softens, brightens, and becomes much more palatable. Who knew, right?
Given this revelation, I wanted to create a massaged kale salad that is packed with good stuff, so that you can serve it to even the most reluctant kale-eaters (I'm talking to you mom).
Trust me, this one is so full of flavor and texture you'll find yourself (and your family) going back for seconds. It's packed with tart and sweet cranberries, hearty rice, and crunchy hazelnuts. The flavors are inspired the Northwest (my home), but can be enjoyed no matter where you live.
On top of that, this salad can also be made up to a day ahead (minus the hazelnuts), making it just the thing for a holiday buffet, potluck, or brunch.
If you plan to make it ahead, simply hold the hazelnuts aside and add them right before serving. You may also want to add a bit more dressing at the end to brighten the flavors back up.
Leftovers also make a lovely lunch the next day, topped with some cooked, shredded chicken, lentils, or a hard boiled egg.
As a side note, this is my last recipe post for the year. I'll be taking a few weeks off to spend with the family and to plan some new, exciting stuff to share here in 2017!
I have absolutely loved sharing recipes and inspiration with you this year, and can't wait to share more in the new year.
Keep an eye out in the next two weeks for the most popular recipes of 2016, and get ready to save and pin your favorites for next year!
I hope you'll add this one your "make right now" list. It will be on our Christmas Eve buffet for sure, and I hope it will be part of your holiday celebrations as well. Now, let's make some Northwest Celebration Chopped Kale Salad!
RECIPE & KID-FRIENDLY ADAPTATIONS
1 | Use walnuts or pecans in place of hazelnuts. Or skip the nuts for a nut-free option.
2 | For a grain-free, Paleo version, skip the rice. If decide to make this salad without rice you may want to double the kale and reduce the amount of dressing.
3 | For the cheese lovers: add a generous sprinkle of feta or goat cheese before serving.
THIS RECIPE IS . . .
Naturally Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free , Egg-Free, Soy-Free, Vegetarian, and Vegan
Northwest Celebration Kale Chopped Salad
For the Dressing
1 small garlic clove, minced or finely grated
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons raw honey or pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
¼ cup red wine vinegar
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
For the Salad
1 bunch Lacinato (Dinosaur) kale, stems removed and sliced into thin ribbons (about 6 cups chopped)
3 cups cooked wild rice, brown rice, or wild rice mix
2 cups chopped apple
⅓ cup raw cranberries, roughly chopped
¼ cup dried cranberries*
⅓ cup toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
1. Make the dressing by whisking the garlic, salt, pepper, honey or maple syrup, mustard, and vinegar together in a small bowl. Drizzle in the olive oil, whisking constantly until smooth.
2. Add the kale to a large bowl. Pour 4 tablespoons of the dressing over the kale. Using clean hands, massage the dressing into the kale with a squeezing/kneading motion. Message the kale for 2-3 minutes, until it is bright green and tender.
3. Add the cooked rice, apple, cranberries, and dried hazelnuts, then half the remaining dressing, tossing to combine. Taste and continue adding dressing until the desired flavor is reached (I like to use all the dressing, but if you like a milder flavor, use less).
4. When ready to serve, add the hazelnuts and toss again. Season with additional salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Best when served at room temperature.
Serves 6-8 as a side dish or 4 as a main dish.
*Look for naturally (apple juice) sweetened cranberries in the natural food section of your grocery store. You can also order them online (I like these). Of course, feel free to use regular sweetened cranberries if that's all you can find. The final results will still taste great and will only add a minimal amount of refined sugar.