This is my new favorite salad! Combine super nutrition star, kale, with shaved fennel, roasted cauliflower, roasted beets, toasted pumpkin seeds, and a little raw goat milk feta (optional), and you have an incredibly satisfying, healthy, power-packed salad.
December meant not just dealing with the busyness of Christmas and New Years, but interviewing half a dozen design firms to handle the re-build of A Food Centric Life. It was a huge, tough decision and big investment for us.
With so many talented people, I just did not know how we were going to finally decide. Thankfully, it became very clear. One team rose to the top. When we walked out of the meeting, we knew it. We were excited. Actually, we are excited!
To celebrate, we had lunch at a terrific local restaurant called Lucca Cafe. I ordered this marvelous kale salad. It was so good that I took notes to recreate it for you. I knew you’d love it!
Get Your Veggies On
This salad definitely gives you a big dose of healthy veggies. With kale, fennel, cauliflower, and beets, there is color, texture, flavor and nutrition by the boatload. Add the crunch of toasted pumpkin seeds, a little tangy raw goat feta (the restaurant used gorgonzola), and a light vinaigrette dressing. Totally fantastic flavors.
This salad takes a little prep work, but do not be dismayed. It can all be done ahead of time. Then assemble and eat when you are ready.
- Roasting beets – Do this at first (or ahead). Read this post on how to roast beets. It’s easy. Cut off tops, wrap in heavy foil, drizzle with oil. Roast until tender. Rbn off skin. Dice.
- Chopping kale – Wash kale leaves and strip, or cut out, the center stem. My favorite is Lacinato or Tuscan kale. Slice the leaves crosswise into thin strips. And be sure to buy organic kale. It’s on the Dirty Dozen Plus list.
- Slicing fennel – Use a mandoline or inexpensive handheld slicer to shave or thinly slice fennel. Cut the tops off, cut out the triangular core, then starting at the bottom of the bulb, slice. Save the fluffy fronds for garnish.
- Roasting cauliflower – Core the head and break off large florets. Cut florets crosswise into wedges about 1/2″( 1 1/4 cm) thick. Place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment or foil. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and granulated garlic. Roast at 400° for approximately 15-18 minutes, until golden with browned edges. Then try not to eat it all before you make the salad. Make extra!
- Toasting pumpkin seeds – Scatter 1/2 cup seeds on a rimmed baking sheet at bake at 350° for 15-18 minutes until you can smell them. Shake the pan half way through. Be careful they don’t burn.
Feta cheese is my add to the salad. My favorite is Redwood Hill Farms Raw Goat Feta. It has a marvelous tang, taste and texture (omit for vegan or dairy-free diners). Sub in diced avocado, or add avocado anyway. What isn’t better with avocado?
For dressing, use extra virgin olive oil and a light vinegar or citrus juice whisked together with a pinch of salt and pepper. A citrus vinegar works really nice. See my note at the end.
Final Notes – Kale and Produce Wash
About raw kale. I like it thinly sliced, as is. If it’s a bit too crunchy for you, place the ribbons in a medium bowl and using your hands, give it a gentle massage for 1-2 minutes with a little of the vinaigrette. The massage softens the texture and breaks it down a bit.
Add salt and pepper, add your veggies, cheese and (or) avocado to complete the salad. To increase protein and make it more of a main dish salad, add roast or grilled chicken breast. For plant-based protein options, try adding chickpeas also known as garbanzo beans. Half of a cup provides 7 grams of protein.
For more information on plant-based proteins, read this post. There are two parts.
For washing produce, I’ve been using a fantastic product called Eat Cleaner. It’s an all natural cleaning spray for fruits and vegetables that removes dirt, waxes, films and pesticide residue quickly and safely. It’s far more effective than rinsing with water.
Eat Cleaner is lab tested, proven and award-winning. And it actually makes your fresh produce last longer. That means shopping less and tossing less because produce went bad. That saves time and money. I need to do a post on just this product for you. You can read more about their full product line at EatCleaner.com.
Kale Salad with Roast Cauliflower, Beets, and Pumpkin Seeds
Serves: 2-4 (entree or side salad)
- 2-3 tablespoons raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- 1 large head cauliflower
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic
- 1 large bundle of Lacinato kale (Tuscan or Dinosaur kale)
- 2 medium beets, roasted, skinned (for how to roast, read here)
- 4-6 ounces feta cheese, optional (I use raw goat milk feta, Redwood Hill Farms)
- 1 small head fennel
- 1 ripe avocado, skinned and diced, optional
Vinaigrette (makes extra)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon light vinegar, citrus vinegar or lemon juice
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Pre-heat oven to 350° (177 C). Scatter pumpkin seeds on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for approximately 15 minutes, until you can smell them and they are lightly browned. Watch so they do not burn. Shake half way through. Cool.
- Turn oven up to 400° (or start a second oven at the same time). Cut core from cauliflower head. Break off florets and cut them into 1/2″ thick wedges. Place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment or foil. Drizzle olive oil over florets and sprinkle with salt, pepper and granulated garlic. Roast until golden brown at the edges. You will smell it, about 18-20 minutes depending on your oven (18 in my convection).
- For kale, strip out center stem with hands or trim out with a knife. Slice leaves crosswise into thin ribbons.
- Dice the roasted beets. Dice the feta and/or avocado.
- Trim top stalks off of fennel. Save some of the fluffy fronds for garnish if desired. Shave or slice thinly bulb with a knife, mandoline or handheld slicer.
- Whisk together the olive and vinegar until emulsified. Sprinkle in salt and pepper to taste. Toss kale greens with a few teaspoons until lightly coated. Add vegetables, pumpkin seeds, cheese and avocado if using. Pass extra vinaigrette to drizzle over top.
Rimmed baking sheets are the workhorses of my kitchen, particularly the quarter and half sheet size. I buy mine at a restaurant supply. Look for heavy weight pans that will not warp.
I love to buy unusual, artisan vinegars for making vinaigrettes and more. A new one I’ve discovered is Calamansi, a citrus from the Philippines. Calamansi vinegar is amazing! Bright, bold, citrusy, flavor. Buy it from Crescendo in Fort Collins. Call them. They ship. And try their other incredible vinegars. I love the date, apple, and raspberry balsamic. They make your salads light up!
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