It's getting chilly outside, and while warm comfort food is high on the list of cravings, it's more important than ever to keep eating salads that are brimming with nutrient-rich vegetables and grains. The good news is that the cooler weather gives us an excuse to fortify our salad bowls, transforming the light and wispy summer salad into a healthy, hearty autumn dish.
A key ingredient in this cold-weather salad is nutrient-rich kale. Raw kale can be bitter and difficult to digest in large quantities, so it's important to tame the tough and sturdy leaves to deter picky eating. This can be easily accomplished by massaging them. Yep, that's right: Drizzle the kale leaves with a little lemon juice, olive oil and a pinch of salt, and then rub them for a minute or so to coat the leaves. You will be rewarded with a slightly softened version of the hearty leaf that's easier to munch on; its earthy flavor will be softened by the lemon and salt.
Treat this salad just like your fall wardrobe, and pile on the layers -- it can handle it. I've added finely chopped cauliflower and dried cranberries, along with a shower of quinoa and seeds. Because these salads are so sturdy, they will hold up well for a bit once they are fully dressed -- which is great for assembling ahead of time.
Chopped Autumn Salad
Active time: 10 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
• 1 bunch curly green kale, tough ribs removed, leaves coarsely chopped
• 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
• 1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
• Pinch of sea salt
• 2 scallions, white and green parts sliced
• 1 large carrot, peeled and coarsely grated
• 1/2 head small cauliflower, florets finely chopped
• 1/4 cup cooked quinoa
• 1/4 cup Italian parsley leaves, chopped
• 1/4 cup dried cranberries
• 2 tablespoons pepitas (or sunflower seeds) for garnish
• 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
• 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
• 1 small garlic clove, minced
• 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a large bowl, rub the kale leaves with the lemon juice, olive oil and salt until thoroughly coated, about 1 minute. Let stand for 15 minutes.
Add the scallions, carrot, cauliflower, quinoa, parsley and cranberries and toss to combine.
Make the dressing: Whisk the oil, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Drizzle over the salad and toss well to thoroughly combine. Garnish with the pepitas. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 hours.
Lynda Balslev is the co-author of "Almonds: Recipes, History, Culture" (Gibbs Smith, 2014). Contact her at TasteFood, c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106, or send email to TasteFood@TasteFoodBlog.com. Or visit the TasteFood blog at TasteFoodBlog.com.