I am not the ideal health freak. I love healthy, real food but I also love the indulgent side of real food. I will serve a plate of grilled ribeye and mashed potatoes just as quickly as I would serve a plate filled with ribbons of black kale, bejeweled with plump tomatoes and sticky, sweet dates.
Now, this requires black kale. Curly kale simply will not do. In fact, I never make salads with it. I usually reserve that kind of kale for my rabbits, or kale chips — but that is another blog post altogether.
I made this salad on a whim. I planted the idea of kale salad in my head, but I wanted to tone down the tough leaves, and figured that a clean chiffonade was the ideal way to do this, and incorporate all the ingredients as they should be.
And just like that, kale was fit for the human table. Hell, fit for a king, a celebrity, a czar, an — nevermind.
Kale was not just for bunnies anymore. I plopped a mound of green onto my child’s plate and she ate it reluctantly, after inquiring about the dates and their sticky appearance. I said, “Those are dates. They’re kind of like candy!” Well, to me they are. They taste like piloncio; an unrefined Mexican sugar. I ate it like candy as a kid. In fact, I thought it was. I remember my mother slicing me off a piece and handing it to me, saying that she also ate it as a kid.With each bite of a date, I spin into a little whirlwind of nostalgia. I felt a little of this rich sweetness would compliment the earthy taste of the kale, and the acid in the citrus-basil dressing would bring them together.
After a few thoughtful chews, she then smiled, ignoring all her other food. Heck — I don’t even remember what else I served that first night. She said, “Mommy, this salad is better than candy!”
This salad is just as excellent without the almonds, if you have a nut allergy. I love the piquant, yet slightly creamy texture of the parmesean. It truly bridges the flavors of the salad, and brings you in for more.
Enjoy this salad… I know we did, and we will enjoy it until kale is out of season.
“Better than Candy” Kale Salad
- 1 bunch of dino/black kale, chiffonade
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 5-6 dates, sliced
- 2-3 tbsp Parmesean cheese, grated
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted. (optional. I like it without, kiddo likes them in!)
- 1 recipe Citrus-basil dressing (below)
Combine kale, tomatoes, and dates and toss with dressing. Let mixture set for 20 minutes.
Drain off excess dressing, ensuring that you leave a few tablespoons at the bottom. Toss again, and garnish with cheese.
- 1/2 tsp minced basil
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1/4 cup champagne vinegar
- 1/8 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
Start with basil, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, mustard, and honey. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until the mixture comes together (emulsifies). Adjust taste with salt and pepper.