I know that you are probably on kale salad overload these days. Every restaurant menu, food blog and food magazine is overflowing with kale. In fact, I am shocked if I go to a trendy restaurant and they don’t have kale on the menu. You may be on total kale max-out from this repetition, but I actually think that is a good thing.
A lot of you probably receive or read Cooking Light Magazine. In the April 2014 edition, the Editor, Scott Mowbray, discusses in his note to the readers how we are constantly being bombarded by fat and sugar in supermarkets and restaurants. Mowbray addresses how now, because of changing consumer preferences, we are seeing healthier foods in the stores and on the menus of restaurants. People are making better choices and the markets are reacting. Kale, once seen as a granola-y, unapproachable vegetable, is now becoming mainstream. So, even if serving kale isn’t on the cutting edge, I think it is really awesome that many people are now embracing it, since there is no denying that it is super good for you.
The first kale salad that I was actually excited about was one I had at Lulu Wilson in Aspen (now called Steakhouse No. 316). The kale is cut into very thin ribbons and tossed with currants, pine nuts and shredded parmesan cheese. The combination of flavors is heavenly, and it will convert anyone into at minimum a liker (maybe not a lover) of kale. The salty/sweet/lemony combination and the perfect balance of textures was in the back of my mind when I put this salad together.
I love this salad because it helps bridge the gap between the looooong winter and the impending summer. Strawberries remind me of summer and the subtle sweetness of the dressing pairs really well with the kale and the refreshing mint. The pumpkin seeds add some texture and crunch. And the bulgur wheat gives this salad enough heartiness to turn it into lunch or a light dinner.
Kale, Bulgur and Mint Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette
For the Salad:
What You’ll Need:
2 cups of kale, julienned into thin strips
1/4 cup of mint, finely chopped
1/2 cup cooked bulgur wheat
1/4 cup of pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
a few strawberries, roughly chopped
What You’ll Do:
Over medium heat, toast the pumpkin seeds for several minutes in a medium sized pan. You don’t need any oil to do this ~ just let them heat up and you’ll hear them start to pop. Keep an eye on them to make sure that they don’t burn. Toss all of the ingredients together with the dressing. Let it sit for about 10-15 minutes before serving to allow the kale to soften.
For the Strawberry Vinaigrette (recipe barely adapted from Southern Living, April 2014):
What You’ll Need:
2 tbsps homemade strawberry lemonade jam (or your favorite jam would do, just add a little squeeze of lemon to the dressing)
2 tbsps olive oil
1.5 tbsps apple cider vinegar
1.5 tbsps water
1 and 1/2 tsps sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper to taste
What You’ll Do:
Whisk together all ingredients. If you find the consistency to be too thick, add water and/or olive oil to taste. Also, you can adjust the sugar and salt based on your taste. A note about the homemade strawberry lemonade jam ~ I used 1/3 cup of sugar instead of the 3/4 cup of sugar called for in the recipe. It had a refreshing lemon flavor that worked really well in the dressing, but it is a lot of effort to make. I think using your favorite strawberry jam, with some lemon to balance out the sweetness, would work just as well.
This is a great variation on a kale salad and I hope you consider giving it a try 🙂 Happy Thursday!