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I love a good winter kale salad, but a good one is hard to come by sometimes.
Kale has been trendy for a while now, so you see it everywhere these days, but a lot of restaurants put it on their menu because it’s trendy, and don’t always understand what makes it good. It’s not the dressing, although this certainly helps. It’s also not the other ingredients, but again, this shouldn’t be overlooked.
The best kale salad comes from a technique that only takes a few minutes, but makes a big difference — massage. Yes, massage. Massaging your kale breaks down the tough fibers that make it hard to chew. When kale is thinly sliced and then massages for a few minutes before adding to your salad, you get something that is tender, flavorful, and easy to eat. The alternative tough and woody kale salad is what you get in a lot of restaurants that don’t put any thought into it.
Of course, the dressing and ingredients do matter. Unlike delicate greens, kale benefits from hearty accompaniments. This salad is crunchy, sweet, salty, and tangy. It holds its own, and makes a meal in its own right. It’s the perfect salad when it’s cold outside and you’re tired of cold weather stews and braises, and just want something fresh.
I added purple Brussels sprouts here because I saw them at a local market. They add a pop of vibrant color, but if you can’t find purple ones, the regular green ones will do fine. The dressing is an easy combination of olive oil, lemon, garlic, and mustard. Sharp white cheddar adds a pungent note. Crunchy, sweet apples, and roasted sunflower seeds round it out, making it a winter kale salad you’ll want to eat again and again. It’s not complicated, but it is delicious.