Because who am I to hide the fact that I’m trying to eat better and turn over a new, less-sugary leaf just like most of you? Truthfully, I think that something flips a switch in me each January that makes me not only want to eat healthier, but rather demands it. My body basically shuts down if I don’t start inhaling greens and vegetables regularly by the first week of January, and thankfully, I enjoy eating like that, so it’s not too much of a thing aside from a minor habit adjustment.
I’ve been making kale salads for a long time now. I have innumerable variations on it, because kale can handle pretty much anything you can throw at it. So I like to load it up with things and go light on the dressing – mostly what I do isn’t even a dressing, but rather a little olive oil and a generous squeeze of lemon – and it always ends up being a really satisfying lunch or dinner.
This one is a favorite of mine, and came about as an ode of sorts to this garlicky sun-dried tomato-smothered cauliflower dish that Katherine over at Eggton made many moons ago. I tried it the week it went up on her blog, and after a long day/night of writing with very little food in between, I tucked into it.
And by “tucked into it,” I mean I accidentally ate the entire thing that evening. For dinner. And then late dinner.
I made myself sick on it, basically, and although I don’t recommend that, I do wholeheartedly beg you to try it for yourself. It’s incredibly delicious and heart-warming and satisfying and I’ve probably made it 49 times since then. I typically eat it for dinner as a vegetarian main dish, but it would work wonderfully as a side to a protein or alongside a green salad.
I would also love for you to try this kale salad I made for you. This is how I imagined her dish would be like deconstructed and strewn about some fluffy kale. If you’ve never made this type of salad before, you simply need to buy curly kale in bunches (please, no pre-washed bags if you can afford it; they’re never as good as the bundled sort) and pulse it down into ribbons in the food processor. Everything else goes in, and bang: beautiful salad minus any off-putting hunks of kale. It’s lovely, and kale does this magical thing where the relative weight of it keeps everything so evenly mixed throughout that you always get flavorful bites.
Is this healthy? I say it is firmly healthy-ish. Certainly you can adjust things easily to increase the health / lower the calories like leaving off the goat cheese, for instance. Obviously slow-roasting your tomatoes using my recipe is the way I suggest you go about this, but in a pinch, jarred sun-dried tomatoes work just as well, but since they’re packed in oil, that’s going to add some calories if you go that route. Whatever you do is perfectly acceptable: it’s your salad, after all, and I think kale was put on this earth to be messed with.
If you are slow-roasting tomatoes (which I highly recommend you do, as you can make a big giant pan of them, use what you need, and then freeze them for later use), I’ll direct you to this recipe right here. It’s incredibly easy, but make them the day before, because slow-roasting in this case means a 10-12 hour stint in your oven.
Kale Salad with Cauliflower, Roasted Tomatoes, Goat Cheese + Walnuts
Makes 4 salads
- 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons of olive oil, divided*
- 1 head cauliflower, cored and chopped into small florets (you’ll need between 2 to 2 1/2 roasted cups for serving)
- 2 bunches curly kale, thick stems removed**
- juice of 2 medium lemons
- 8 ounces slow-roasted tomatoes (or, alternatively, jarred sun-dried tomatoes), julienned
- 1 1/3 cups walnuts, coarsely chopped and lightly toasted (if you like them toasted; un-toasted is fine)
- 1 cup fresh-grated Parmesan
- 4-5 ounces soft goat cheese
- sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
*Olive oil in most recipes is adjustable: this one is no different. You may use less or more to suit your tastes.
**The kale bunches I typically find in my local grocery have around 10 stems of kale in each, which is around 7 to 8 ounces of kale per bundle. You’ll need two of those bundles to make 4 salads.
Roast the cauliflower:
Preheat oven to 400˚F. Line a lipped baking sheet with aluminium foil.
In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower florets with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season with sea salt and ground pepper and toss again. Spread out on the baking sheet in a single layer and roast for 30 minutes, checking at the 20-minute mark for doneness. Leave it in until the florets are mostly golden with darker edges, tossing once or twice throughout the cook time. Remove from oven and set aside.
Make the salads:
Working in batches, add bunches of kale, roughly torn (don’t shove whole giant leaves in there) and pulse until kale is in small, ribboned pieces. Add the kale to a large bowl and pour remaining olive oil over top. Add the lemon juice and mix thoroughly. Season with a little sea salt and pepper.
Add the grated Parmesan and mix to incorporate. Divide onto 4 plates. Add between 1/2 and 2/3 cup roasted cauliflower to each salad, then divide roasted tomatoes, walnuts, and goat cheese evenly between the plates. Season again with a little sea salt and pepper, and serve immediately.