A simple combination of sweet and savory, green and crunchy all at the same time. Warm kale salad with cranberries and walnuts. Warm salads are satisfying as we head into fall and a great way to get more greens into your diet. This new recipes has become a fast favorite. Serve as a side dish to roast chicken, as a bed for roast salmon or top top quinoa for a bowl.
Warm Kale Salad with Cranberries and Walnuts
Have you added kale to your regular menu yet? Until just a few years ago, I didn’t know what kale was. Then I started noticing it at the market. The only leafy green I cooked with was spinach until then.
This sturdy, leafy green is a nutritional powerhouse. It’s one vegetable you should be adding to your regular grocery list. And this warm kale salad makes that easy.
It’s quick to prepare, super healthy, and of course, it tastes great. My husband was happily surprised. More vegetables is a good thing!
Chopping Your Kale Leaves
While you can buy bags of pre-chopped kale at many markets, they don’t cut out the tough center rib. Skip the bags and spend a few minutes chopping your own. The result is better.
Cut the center ribs out of the kale leaves, and then cut the leaves crosswise into thin ribbons. Alternatively, hold a leaf in one hand and with the other, strip off the leafy part from the center rib by pulling from the end.
For two people, you’ll need one large bunch of kale. It might seem like a lot, but kale shrinks up as most vegetable too because of their high water content. Do two bundles of kale for 4 people.
Pre-Cook Kale Leaves
Pre-cook the kale ribbons by steaming for about 2-3 minutes. Drain and use right away or cool, refrigerate and for use a few days later.
To complete the dish, cook shallot in olive oil with garlic for a minute. Add the dried cranberries, walnuts and vinegar, cook for a minute, then add the kale. Toss and cook for a minute or two until the greens are coated and warm. That’s it.
Prepping ahead saves time when you get home, everyone is hungry and you need a quick dinner. To prep this warm kale salad ahead, do the following:
- Wash, stem and chop the kale leaves
- Chop walnuts and measure out
- Measure out the cranberries
- Chop the shallot
- Cover everything and refrigerate the kale and shallot until cooking time
- Place the rest of the ingredients ready to go near the stove
For the vinegar, you can use a Balsamic vinegar, sherry vinegar, or a fancy fruit-flavored vinegar. I have lots of fun, flavored vinegars in my pantry to create interesting vinaigrettes (that’s a different post). I’ve used a dark cherry balsamic and a fig balsamic. Lucini makes some tasty ones and this brand is widely available. Try something fun and flavorful.
A note on dried cranberries. I’ve discovered dried cranberries that are sweetened with apple juice and that have no sulphites. They are big, plump, moist and not overly sweet. Different than the usual dried cranberries. If you can find them, give them a try.
Kale is a nutritional giant among vegetables, a true superfood. It provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients, micronutrients and has been shown to help prevent a number of cancers. It’s a good source of iron, fiber, calcium, healthy omega-3 fats and is a detoxifier (good for our livers).
One caveat: If you are on blood thinners, be sure to check with your doctor before consuming dark leafy greens. They might interfere with your medication as they are a source of vitamin K, a blood thinner.
Read more about the power of kale at Worlds Healthiest Foods. When you buy kale, be sure to buy organic. Kale is listed on the supplemental Dirty Dozen list of produce with the highest pesticide load, from the Environmental Working Group.
Warm Kale Salad with Dried Cranberries and Walnuts
- 1 large bunch of organic kale Tuscan, Lacinato or Dinosaur
- 1 large shallot
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 large cloves of garlic minced
- 3 tablespoons chopped walnuts
- 2 tablespoons dried cranberries
- 1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar I use fruit flavored varieties like dark cherry Balsamic
- A sprinkle of sea salt and ground black pepper
- Bring a large pot (5 quart/liter) of water to a boil while you are trimming the kale leaves and slicing the shallot. Trim the ribs out of the center of the kale leaves, then cut the leaves crosswise into ribbons. Slice the peeled shallot crosswise into thin rings.
- When water boils, add 2 teaspoons salt, then drop the kale leaves into the water and cook for 2 minutes (called blanching). Drain well through a sieve and place kale on a clean kitchen towel. Alternatively you can steam your kale for 2-3 minutes, then proceed with the recipe.
- In a medium saute or fry pan (I use a 3 or 4 quart All Clad), heat the olive oil over medium low heat until warm. Add the shallot rings, then the garlic. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring until softened. Be careful not to let them burn. Add the cranberries, walnuts and vinegar. Stir and cook for a minute, then add the cooked kale. Toss the kale ribbons to coat and warm, season up with salt and pepper, then serve.