Thursday, August 22, 2013

Kale, Spinach, and Apple Salad with Mint-Chive dressing.

Kale is one of those vegetables people have strong polarized opinions about. It's undeniably healthy, loaded with vitamins A, C, and K, antioxidants, and even a bit of Calcium, but the flavor is not for everyone. Or is it? I used to think I hated Kale, but not anymore. 

Turns out, kale is one of those foods that tastes great with other flavors. It's fantastic with bacon, balsamic vinegar, and maple. In soup it absorbs all the lovely broth flavors. In juice it can hide with ease behind some beet and apple. Baked covered in pepper and paprika kale becomes a lovely chip. And when thinly sliced, paired with flavorful vegetables, and dressed well, raw kale makes a lovely salad.

I've been transformed from a non-kale eater, to an eater of only wilted kale covered in balsamic vinegar, to an eater of any cooked kale, to a juicer of kale, and finally, into someone who will eat kale raw, in a salad. Which is remarkable because aside from not eating raw kale, a few years ago I didn't really even eat salad.

That's right, growing up, I thought salad was not for me. The problem was the lettuce. It was boring. Then I discovered arugula, sharp and spicy and lovely, I slathered it in an unseemly amount of balsamic vinegar and discovered it was pretty good. Basically, what I'm saying is covering a vegetable in balsamic vinegar is generally what makes me like it. And yet, this salad contains no vinegar of any sort, and I love it. I've come a long way. 

The dressing on this salad really takes the cake for me. Or maybe it's the apple bits. Or the cool sliced mint leaves mingling with the deep, earthy kale. Basically, every element of this salad is heavenly. The chives add a nice sharp element, and the almonds add a bit of crunch. 


3 C baby spinach
2  C thinly sliced Kale
1/2 C mint
1 apple
1/2 C slivered, sliced, or chopped almonds
1/4  of a lemon


2 tbsp creme fraiche
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup rough chopped chives
2 tbsp rough chopped mint leaves
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp fresh pepper

Toast the almonds-  add almonds to a dry frying pan and place over medium heat, stirring often to cook almonds evenly. They take a while to start toasting but once they begin to turn golden they'll all toast pretty quickly, so keep an eye on your pan and keep moving the almonds around. Remove from heat when toasted and set aside. 

Combine all dressing ingredients in food processor or blender and blend until mint and chive are well chopped and all ingredients are well incorporated. This took about 2 minutes in my food processor. 

Slice the mint thin and combine with the kale and spinach in a large bowl. 
Cut the apple into small pieces, I cut mine into matchsticks an then halved the matchsticks, but you could also do 1/4" cubes. Squeeze the 1/4 lemon over the apple pieces so they will not brown. 

Add the apple to the bowl with the spinach, mint, and kale, and toss to combine. Top with dressing, then almonds. 

Optional additional toppings could include gorgonzola (I liked this, but S did not), goat cheese, dried cranberries, sliced strawberries, or thinly sliced cucumber. 

Substitutions: Greek yogurt or sour creme could probably replace the creme fraiche in this recipe.

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