I consider myself pretty good at salads. I’ve figured out just how much vinegar is too much the hard way, by pushing the limits a little bit. But for me, a great salad is all about ratios and balance. The base is comprised of greens, then a vinaigrette, which should either be creamy or oily. Plus, there should be a salty and then a crunchy element. Parmigiano Reggiano is the perfect way to achieve salt, while any sort of nut or seed is great for adding crunch. This raw and roasted kale salad is all the things–crunchy, salty, tangy, and it’s hearty enough with the tuscan kale base to be a meal.
I love roasted things in salad. Raw carrots? EW. But roasted carrots? Bring it on. Raw vegetables like cucumbers are perfect as is, but when it comes to salad, I also love a pickled item! Here’s the perfect salad recipe. Greens + Salty Element + Crunchy Element + Vinaigrette. It cannot be a bad salad if you follow those rules (I think.)
This raw and roasted kale salad is actually adapated from Alison Roman’s cookbook Dining In. I’ve changed a few things, but I’ve tried it about ten different ways and it’s always delicious. First, don’t be afraid to use curly kale if you can’t find tuscan kale! The texture is a little different, but it definitely does the job in a pinch. I also love using both a raw ingredient and a roasted ingredient. The raw kale is massaged, which is very important to hydrate it and make sure the dressing penetrates every nook and cranny. Do not skip that part! Then the roasted kale should crumble apart on top like kale chips.
I used pepitas, but you can use any nut under the sun if you like as long as it’s crunchy! I loved slivered almonds on this salad and Alison uses pistachios, but I went with a poor man’s nut–pepitas (not a nut at all, but a pumpkin seed). Which are DELICIOUS, by the way.
For our salty element, I used parmesan. Buy the good stuff because it gets really crystalized and tasty, not the plasticy block. But again, no shame in the cheap game. Use what you’ve got! Also I’ve used preserved lemons as my salty element, and it was crazy good! Preserved lemons are briny like capers, and they’re amazing in most things. If you’re feeling adventurous, but you don’t have preserved lemons, chop up a regular lemon, rind and all into matchstick pieces and add to your salad, but don’t skip the cheese, since regular lemons aren’t salty at all.
I hope this salad gives you all kinds of amazing ideas. It’s one of my absolute favorites! See the full recipe below.
- 2 large bunches of tuscan or lacinato kale
- ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
- kosher salt
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- ⅓ cup finely grated parmigiano reggiano
- ⅓ cup pepitas (raw or roasted)
- Preheat the oven to 425 F.
- Remove the stems from the kale and chop the leaves. Place just half the leaves on a baking sheet and drizzle with 2 tbsp of the olive oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt and red pepper flakes. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the kale crumbles easily. Set aside.
- Place the remaining raw kale in a large salad bowl. Whisk together the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil, white wine vinegar, and parmigiano reggiano in a bowl. Pour over the raw kale and use your fingers to massage the dressing into the kale vigorously until no dry spots remain and kale is well coated, about 2 minutes. Crumble the roasted kale on top and sprinkle the pepitas on top. Mix together and serve immediately.