Crisp greens tossed in a vibrant Parmesan vinaigrette, crunchy toasted breadcrumbs, salty pancetta, fresh green apples, charred grapes, toasted pistachios, sundried tomatoes and fresh grated pecorino. Each bite is crunchy, salty, sweet and perfectly balanced.
Our favorite recipes are those that require only a handful of ingredients, very few dishes and deliver on taste where you’re finding yourself craving that meal days later your taste buds start salivating.
During the winter months we usually find ourselves indulging on warm cozy comfort food from soups, to stews and one pot dishes. But enough with these heavier hearty meals, it’s time to add some freshness back into your diet where you can still enjoy cold food that is tasty during the cold months, this salad is mixed with raw kale, toasted breadcrumbs, crunchy pistachios, sweet green apples, charred grapes, sundried tomatoes and a lemon-garlic parmesan dressing. Topped with a generous amount of pecorino cheese, this salad will easily become your new favorite lunch recipe.
When I first started eating kale, I wasn’t a huge fan of it, it’s very bitter and not something I would typically eat for pleasure. As one of the most nutritionally dense foods, kale is incredibly healthy for your brain and body. This leafy green superfood is high in iron, rich in vitamin K and loaded with antioxidants that help promote cognition. It’s an excellent anti-inflammatory food, rich in omega 3 fatty acids which is why I had to find a recipe that worked for me and make kale taste delicious. I always mixed it in with other greens to hide some of that bitterness but never really liked kale salad on its own. I tried this Tuscan Kale Salad at a restaurant in Houston and was shocked to find that it was to die for! I’m sharing my version of this salad with all of you and I hope you enjoy.
So why does this salad taste so great? By massaging the parmesan vinaigrette into the kale at least 10 minutes before serving helps break down the tough cell structure of kale and gives the raw kale a softer texture and gentler flavour. This is the most important step when making this salad. We definitely recommend not skipping this step otherwise you’ll get a bitter salad. It only takes about 2 minutes to massage the raw kale with the dressing. You just want to pour enough dressing on the kale and start rubbing it into the leaves until they start to get darker in colour, turn softer and tenderer.
Because kale is so hearty, it also makes a great meal-prep salad option. It won’t wilt like mixed greens would, you can easily make a big batch of salad that stays fresh for up to 3 days.
Feel free to substitute some of the produce with seasonal fruit and veggies to make this your own version.
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To make the breadcrumbs:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place the bread on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, flipping the pieces over halfway through baking.
3. When the bread starts to get very dry and crusty, remove from the oven and let cool. Break the bread into pieces and place in a food processor. Pulse until crumbs form.
4. Toss the breadcrumbs with the melted butter and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Spread on the baking sheet and bake for another 5-10 minutes until golden brown and crispy.
To make the dressing:
1. Place all the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake to mix. Taste and adjust as desired.
To make the salad:
1. Massage the kale with the dressing, rubbing the leaves until the kale starts to get softer and turns darker in colour. Set aside.
2. Add the pancetta to a pan and cook over medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes, frequently tossing until browned and crisp. Transfer the pancetta to a plate lined with paper towels in order to strain the grease.
3. Cut each grape in half. Heat a pan over high heat, grill the grapes until lightly charred, about 2 minute’s total.
Assemble the kale salad:
1. Toss the kale with the breadcrumbs, pancetta, sundried tomatoes, apples, grapes, fresh ground pepper and parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.
Optional to garnish each serving with more grated cheese.