I succombed to peer pressure. I jumped on the bandwagon. I’m intoxicated with the sweet promise of a new fangled and healthy twist on one of my favorite meals.
My lunch crunch salad.
I have a version of a salad nearly every day for lunch and it’s often a dish I’m requested to bring to pot luck dinners. It usually includes some sort of protein (rotisserie chicken, tuna, leftover salmon or chickpeas), fresh veggies (roasted tomatoes or beets, avocados, maybe peas) and just a sprinkling of firm cheese (feta or blue are my faves.)
But it wasn’t until recently that I veered from my trusty spring mix or crunchy hearts of romaine to jump into the land of kale as my main salad base. I’ve added it to several of my favorite dishes like my Kale and Cabbage Coleslaw and White Bean and Pumpkin Pork Chili but for some reason it didn’t make it into my usual lunch crunch rotation.
Until I roasted the kale leaves for the salad.
I love crispy roasted kale chips. Toss a little salt on shredded leaves and put into a hot oven for a few minutes and you have a great alternative to potato chips. So why not soften the flavor and bitterness of kale by giving it a quick roast and make a salad out of it? Okay, let’s do this thang.
There’s so many other options for kale on the web, it’s truly one of the darlings of many a food blogger. And while I highly doubt it will make an exit off of anyone’s favorites list anytime soon, there are plenty of other natural foods making their entré into our daily eating routines.
I have a few kale faves, but I want to know, what are yours?
A few recipe notes
1. Originally I tried this recipe without stemming the kale leaves, thinking the roasting might soften them enough to make them tender to the bite. While some of the smaller, thinner stalks did soften up and had a nice chew, the larger leaves turned into a tug of war between my fork and my teeth. My mouth did not win. Removing the stalks from the leaves, but keeping them whole leaf, gives the salad a whole new presentation than the small, chopped leaves I usually make the salad with.
2. While I made this salad as a first option for a strictly veggie meal, I did happen to have a bit of leftover baked chicken breasts so tossed a few pieces on for good measure. The licorice taste of the fennel adds a nice sweetness to the leafy kale and a few bites of smokey, toasted almonds add my craveable crunch. Yes, there’s a smattering of feta too.
3. Because the kale leaves are so sturdy, it’s a natural recipe to add a heavier dressing to. This caesar dressing was inspired by Pam’s recipe she shared (hash brown croutons, YES!) with the addition of avocado for even more creaminess and a little anchovy for salty flavor. If you’re afeared of anchovies, you can always leave them out and substitute with kosher salt.
Roasted Kale and Fennel Salad with Avocado Caesar Dressing
For the Roasted Kale Salad
- 1 bunch kale leaves
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 fennel bulb leafy greens reserved
- 1 small seedless cucumber
- ½ cup roasted almond slices
- ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
- Lemon zest
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup rotisserie chicken breast optional
For the Avocado Caesar Dressing
- 1 ½ large avocados
- 3 cloves garlic peeled
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 anchovies packed in olive oil
- Juice of one lemon
- Fresh cracked black pepper
For the Roasted Kale Salad
- Stem washed and dried kale leaves and place on a baking sheet lined with foil. Lightly drizzle with extra virgin olive oil then sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Place in a preheated oven at 400 degrees F and cook for 3-5 minutes or until leaves become crispy on the edges then remove from oven and set aside.
- Slice white part of fennel bulb into very thin layers and remove some of the leafy sprigs from the stems and set aside for garnish. Thinly slice the cucumber.
- Layer the kale leaves on a plate or serving dish and layer the fennel bulb slices and cucumber, sprinkle with roasted almonds and crumbled feta cheese. Garnish with lemon zest and freshly ground black peper and kosher salt. Serve with Avocado Caesar Dressing.
For the Avocado Caesar Dressing
- Place all ingredients in a food processor or [blenderhttp://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008RA58CA/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B008RA58CA&linkCode=as2&tag=foodiecrush-20] and blend on high for one one half minutes.
These food bloggers are certainly fans of the K-wow too, which one are you adding to your menu? And please, visit their blogs to see more deliciousness.
Kale and Black Bean Burrito from Kathryn at Cookie + Kate
Green Superfood Smoothie by Julia from The Roasted Root
Waldorf Kale Salad from Hannah of Blue Kale Road
Chicken Kale and Chickpea Skillet from Jessica at How Sweet It Is
Creamy Spaghetti with Kale and Sundried Tomatoes from Lisa at With Style and Grace
Sweet Potato, Goat Cheese, and Kale Pizza by Amy Jo of Pure and Simple
Kale Artichoke Dip with Greek Yogurt from Becky of The Vintage Mixer
Spaghetti with Greens and Cherry Tomatoes by Mike and Margherita from The Iron You
Creamy Kale Pesto Pasta by Jackie of Domestic Fits
Sweet Potato, Black Bean, and Kale Quesadillas by Ashley from Cookie Monster Cooking
Kale and White Bean Crostini from Jeanine at Love and Lemons
Gluten Free Kale Pesto Spaghetti with Goat Cheese by Whitney of Little Leopard Book
Sweet and Nutty Kale Salad by Sofia from Betacyanin
Curry Marinated Summer Squash Salad from Erin at Naturally Ella
Gnocchi with Sausage and Kale by Bev from Bev Cooks
Kale and Feta Crustless Quiche by Brittany of Eating Birdfood
Cauliflower Kale Pasta by Bryan of The Bite House
Kale Ricotta Dip from Ashley of Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen
Kale Caesar Salad with Pickled Onions and Homemade Breadcrumbs from Jodi of What’s Cooking Good Looking
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