I know Kale has been through a revival of sorts for awhile now, but I never really did jump out on that train….the kale train that is. I honestly couldn’t tell you why either. Kale is a powerhouse of goodness, having more nutritional value than spinach! It’s packed full of potassium and beta-carotene and helps with digestion because it’s chock full of fiber and water. Besides all these obvious health benefits, it tastes great too!
When I was thinking of new ideas the other night for the inevitable leftover holiday turkey, kale for some reason popped in my head. It’s a versatile green (cabbage actually) that is very hearty and could stand in for the main course on any day of the week. This salad has little pops of Thanksgiving spirit spread throughout. Besides the obvious protein, turkey, it’s filled with little gems that remind your taste buds of everything holiday.
The greens are chopped and soaked in a homemade garlic balsamic dressing. Little pomegranate seeds burst in your mouth with every crunch filled bite, thanks to the roasty toasty pumpkin seeds that are nestled between the dressing soaked leaves. And what’s Thanksgiving without stuffing? That’s mirrored in this salad with the addition of crispy cornbread croutons. If you’re from the south you’ve prolly got some leftover cornbread from the day before so oil that baby up and throw it in the oven for croutons! (If not, store bought will work too:) ) The salad is finished off with a nice grating of Parmigiano-Reggiano.
If you’ve never tried using kale in it’s uncooked form here’s a few tips. Curly leaf kale is the most commonly found variety. You may also find Lacinato (or Dinosaur) kale in your grocery store, as well as Red Russian leaf kale. Kale for salad is commonly shredded or “massaged” to help break down the cellulose in the leaves before eating. For this salad I’m just doing a rough chop on the more commonly found curly leaf kale and then dressing it with my vinaigrette about an hour before dinner. The vinegar in the dressing will help to slightly break down and soften the leaves of this awesome salad before it hits the table.
The dressing in this dish is a vinaigrette made with balsamic vinegar. Even though garlic can be a sharp (and even hot) addition when added raw to any dish I’m using just one 1/2 clove grated on a microplane. The sweet tanginess from the vinegar will counter the sharp garlic flavor. We were taught in culinary school that to make a traditional vinaigrette to use the 3-1 ratio. That is, 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. I’ve always found that ratio not suiting to the palate and have always used more of a 2-1 ratio. What’s funny about that is Bon Appetit recently published an article this past August (18′) on this exact same subject and said themselves to not believe the 3-1 ratio “hype”. The most important thing you can do for yourself (and everyone around you) is use good quality ingredients for your dressings. The dijon in this recipe acts as the emulsifier as well as add a punch of flavor on it’s own. I use cold (gooooooood) pressed extra virgin olive oil for all my dressings. It’s light, fruity, and doesn’t have an overpowering “oiliness” about it. It harmonizes with whatever else you throw in the mix..or dressing.
Chopped Kale Salad With Turkey, Poms, Pumpkin Seeds, and Cornbread Croutons
This recipe will serve 4 small bowls of salad as a side or 2 large plates for an entree
*2 bunches (about 6 ounces) of Curly leaf Kale, pulled from ribs and roughly chopped
*1/2 Cup Pumpkin seeds, roasted
*1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
*1/2 cup Cornbread Croutons
*1/2 lb. Turkey, cubed or shredded
*1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano
*1/2 garlic clove, grated
*1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
*2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
*5 Tablespoons Olive Oil
*1/4 teaspoon sea salt
*Freshly ground pepper
Make vinaigrette. In small bowl add together mustard and balsamic vinegar and grated garlic clove. Gently start whisking in olive oil and continue adding oil and whisking until emulsified. Add salt and fresh pepper and add more seasoning if necessary. Toss and gently massage kale with dressing using fingers to coat each leaf. Refrigerate for 1/2 hour to an hour.
Roast fresh pumpkin seeds (if using) and then turn heat up to 425 for croutons. Spritz diced cornbread with olive oil and place on ungreased baking pan. Bake for 4-7 minutes. Make vinaigrette. Grate garlic and stir in dijon mustard.
Just before service taste kale for seasoning and adjust to your liking. Toss in pom and pumpkin seeds. Top with chopped turkey and sprinkle on Parmesan cheese.
Cooks Notes: If you’re using fresh pumpkin seeds rinse them, pat dry, and toss in olive oil. Spread them on a sheet pan and sprinkle with sea salt. Roast at 300 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes. Scoot the seeds around on the pan every now and again to help them cook and brown evenly.
Pomegranate arils are widely available in most grocery stores now and super convenient. I still choose to buy whole pomegranates because it costs a lot less and I get a lot more….for snacking! Here’s a short youtube vid on how to cut and use a fresh pomegranate:
Cooks Notes II: A little tip. When you’re mixing your dressing in the bowl, wrap a kitchen towel around the bottom of the bowl like a little scarf so that you can whisk the dressing without the bowl dancing all over the counter…like this:
What, pray tell, do YOU do with all those leftovers from Thanksgiving? Casseroles? Soups? Sandwiches? Write me down below with your ideas, suggestions, recipes:)