“We are the Borg. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.”
I don’t tend to follow food trends. No culinary groupthink for me. For instance, bone luging. It may be the new rave but I’m gonna pass (Google it. That’s just odd. Right?).
So, earlier this year when cooked kale salads started parking themselves on the menus of all of my favorite restaurants, I was more than a bit skeptical. But I was drawn to this dish. In particular, versions that contrasted the earthy, deep flavors of the kale with lighter, sweeter ingredients. And just as I was diving in, exploring as many cooked kale salads as I could find, kale season ended. So I started making my own “seasonally inappropriate” versions at home. This has now become my “go to” salad on days when I want to cook something light. Occasionally, I’ll add grill chicken breast for a little protein.
Roasting the kale intensifies its earthy, peppery flavors. As a matter of fact, the salad is layered with varying levels of peppery spice: the kale; the fresh, slightly peppery flavor of the arugula and; the sweet spice of the parsnip. This is contrasted with a tangy Asian Vinaigrette. It adds just enough sweetness to soften the kale’s bold flavor but not enough to steal the show.
This salad also stands out for its contrasting textures: the light crunchy, potato chip like crispness of the kale and the delicate baby arugula.
ROASTED KALE & ARUGULA SALAD WITH TANGY ASIAN VINAIGRETTE
NOTE: As you can see from the photographs, I originally cut the parsnip into thin ribbons. DON’T DO THIS. The long ribbons are hard to eat and make the salad cumbersome. Instead, dice the parsnip into small, bite-sized pieces.
½ lb kale leaves (about 1lb if purchasing them on the full stem)
3 TBL extra-virgin olive oil
¼ TSP ground black pepper
¼ TSP kosher salt
half of a medium parsnip, cut into a small dice
half of a spicy red pepper (optional), seeded with membrane removed
small handful of baby arugula
6 TBL extra-virgin olive oil
3 TBL rice vinegar
2 TSP light soy sauce
3 TSP sugar
1 TSP toasted sesame oil
2 TSP honey
dash kosher salt
dash ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roughly chop kale leaves into 2-3 inch pieces. In a large bowl, evenly mix kale, olive oil, kosher salt and black pepper. Spread the kale out in one layer in 2 large baking sheets/pan. Roast kale until its crispy and dark around the edges of the leaves, about 15 minutes. Set cook kale aside.
To make vinaigrette, combine the olive oil, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil and honey in a bowl. Whisk until thick and emulsified. Salt and pepper to taste.
Add parsnip, red pepper and arugula in vinaigrette bowl. Toss until completely coated. Set aside.
As you are serving salad lightly toss the cooked kale with the vinaigrette mixture. NOTE: Do not do this step ahead. The vinaigrette will moisten the kale and you will lose the crispy texture. On that note, don’t over mix the kale and vinaigrette – as to not over saturate the crisp kale with liquid.