I first started eating kale when I was pregnant because of it’s nutritional benefits. I tried making kale chips…in my opinion, kale is not a “chip” and no amount of olive oil or salt could convince me otherwise. Then my husband found a way make kale that I loved – just chop it up into a salad! Easy peasy, right?
That is where the chopped part comes in…
Big chunks of kale are hard to chew and don’t taste all that great by themselves, so chopping it up into to small pieces and mixing it with other flavorful veggies is the way to go!
I will admit that this salad is somewhat time intensive to make because you have to do so much chopping (and I chop slow), BUT, it is worth it. If you spend an hour chopping up veggies for this salad on a Sunday afternoon, you will have fresh pre-made salad to enjoy all week long. The 2 keys to this:
1) Only use “hard” vegetables. Ingredients like tomato, cucumber, avocado tend to get slimy and go back quickly. So only pre-make salads with ingredients that can last a while chopped up in the fridge. Plus, you can always throw in some tomato just before you serve the salad, if needed.
2) Only add dressing to the portion of salad you will eat at one sitting. This will keep your salad fresh, longer.
Here’s what we do: once a week we buy the ingredients. Kale, carrots, celery, radishes, italian parsley (or cilantro) and fennell (only sometimes do we use fennell.) And sometimes we buy fresh beets too (but I didn’t use beets in this salad). Also, you will need a few lemons, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt.
Then, like I mentioned, I will spend a block of time in the kitchen chopping. And most of the time only occasionally will Jon come to my rescue if my hands get tired.
To start: wash all your veggies. Then you can begin chopping up the kale.
You might want to remove the thick pieces of kale stock (that taste a lot like broccoli) or you can just chop those up into smaller pieces as well.
This is about the right size, although if I did it again I would actually chop these pieces up a bit smaller. In my opinion, this salad is best if the ingredients are finely chopped. So imagine you are chopping up ingredients for a chunky salsa and that should guide you in your chopping.
Next, grab some celery. Jon likes to chop up the celery hearts (the inside, whitish part of the celery bunch) too and the celery leaves, but it depends what you like.
When chopping the thicker part of the celery, I like to cut it down the middle first to get smaller pieces.
For the carrots, I use a mandolin. Much quicker and easier for me to use.
Then I cut the carrot slices in half.
I also like to grate the carrots so my salad has a variety of textures. Normally, I will slice one of the carrots and grate the other four or more.
Then comes the fennell. Fennell is a root that has a black licorice-type flavor – but don’t worry, a little fennell in your salad won’t make your whole salad taste like black licorice. It will just be one of many flavors hanging out in the bowl. (But of course, if you don’t like fennell then just leave this veggie out).
Slice off the stalks so that you’re just dealing with the white part for now.
The pictures show how you can slice it, although any technique is good. Remember, the goal is just to chop everything up!
Go ahead and chop up the stalks if you like too. Might as well use all of what you paid for!
Then chop up the prettiest ingredient of them all: bright red radishes!
I never thought I liked radishes until I had them chopped up in this salad. Radishes are another root vegetable with an intense flavor. If you bite into one you might spit it back out, but in smaller bites their flavor is really very good.
Italian parsley or cilantro is the ingredient that will give your salad a unique flavor. We tend to just buy whichever looks more fresh or is on sale at the time. Both are good, just different.
Chop, chop, chop!
Now grab your lemons and a zester.
Zest your lemons over the salad bowl. You’ll want to save the insides of the lemons to use as part of your dressing.
Then mix it all up!
For dressing we like to use a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. According to Jon, dressing is meant to “kiss the salad,” not drown it. So start with a little bit of everything because you can always add more. The dressing is meant to bring out and compliment the flavors of the salad, not mask them.
*And remember: only add dressing to the portion of salad you are going to eat at that particular sitting. You’ll want to keep your un-dressed salad covered in the fridge.
And there your have it! A whole week’s worth of fresh chopped kale salad to go along with whatever dinner you make. So pretty too!
Oh, and one last thing! You can buy two packs of goat cheese at Costco. To make your salad a little more gourmet, crumble some goat cheese on top. That is my favorite part.