Kale, Brussels Sprout, and Apple Salad
Kale salad lovers and kale salad haters, THIS ONE’S FOR YOU!!!
Lovers, you have clearly accepted the massaged kale gospel, and I’m thrilled we’re on the kale appreciation bandwagon together. (I feel a special kind of joy when consuming something that has so many glorious health benefits and tastes delicious.) You’re going to love this salad. Honestly, it’s maybe my best ever. And God knows I make a LOT of salads…
Haters, have you tried a really well massaged kale salad? If no, I beg you to try giving your leaves a rub down and see if you change your tune. Raw kale is, in a word, terrible. It’s tough and dry and kinda grassy. But when you remove its center ribs, finely chop it, and rub the leaves with some oil or acid (like lemon juice) and salt, something magical happens. The kale softens and mellows in flavor and becomes the perfect hearty base for all your favorite salad mix-ins.
In this case, we’re adding tossing earthy shaved Brussels sprouts, apple matchsticks, plump golden raisins, toasted pepitas and the most perfect lemon-Dijon dressing with our massaged kale. The flavors are perfectly balanced, and the pops of crunch and sweetness will keep you coming back to this recipe again and again.
The true selling point of this salad (and massaged kale salads in general) is that it keeps fabulously in the fridge for a good 4 to 5 days, so it’s the perfect make-ahead option for holidays, potlucks, and #sassydesklunch. If you prepare this salad in advance, take it out of the fridge 20 minutes before serving to allow it to cool to room temperature. Freshen it up with a squeeze of lemon and/or an extra drizzle of olive oil if needed.
As always, let your personal tastes and pantry guide you when whipping up this salad. You must always do you, and there are endless ways to riff on this recipe roadmap. Sliced or slivered almonds, chopped walnuts or pecans are fantastic in place of pepitas. If you’re feeling extra fancy, candied walnuts or pecans are delightful.
Any dried fruit (Currants! Cranberries! Apricots! Dates) will play very well in the raisins’ place.
Cheese lovers, I see you. Go ahead and get some Pecorino Romano, Parmesan, Ricotta Salata, or goat cheese involved. (If you go with goat cheese, sprinkle it on top so that it doesn’t create a creamy film on the salad.)
And if you want to bulk things up with a grain, 1-2 cups of cooked farro, quinoa, or barley is always a lovely addition.
Now go forth and massage your kale! Haters, please report back.
- 1/3 cup pepitas
- 1 large bunch curly kale, center ribs removed and very finely chopped (lacinato kale is also great!)
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 cups shaved Brussels sprouts (about 3/4 pound whole sprouts)
- 1 large apple, cut into matchsticks
- 1/3 cup golden raisins
For the dressing:
- 1 medium shallot, minced
- 1 large garlic clove, grated or finely minced
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- Salt to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. (Do not add any fat to the pan!) When hot, add the pepitas and toast, shaking the pan occasionally, for about 3 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant. Transfer to a plate or bowl to cool.
Add the kale to a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with a good pinch of salt. Massage the kale in handfuls—literally rub the leaves between your fingers—for a minute or two, until the leaves soften and darken in color. (Yes, I know giving your salad a rubdown is a little weird, but it’s worth it. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP.)
In a medium bowl, whisk all of the ingredients for the dressing. Add the apple to the dressing and toss to coat. (The lemon juice in the dressing will help prevent the apples from browning in the salad.)
Add the apple, dressing, Brussels sprouts, raisins, and cooled pepitas to the bowl with the kale and toss to combine. Taste and season with a little extra salt, pepper, or lemon if needed. Serve at room temperature.
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