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Kale Salad with Avocado Dressing

This is the latest in NDP’s Weekday Lunch series, your one and only source into the scandalous lives of my tupperware. For earlier Weekday Lunch posts, check this out.

I’m a big fan of kale salads. They’re a pop of green in a season where not much is; they basically never wilt; and given how healthy they are, it’s hard not to feel righteous eating one.

My usual kale salad combines lacinato kale – the long, bumpy leaves that are almost glamorous in texture, also known as dinosaur kale – with pine nuts, raisins or currants, and shards of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. It’s the sort of salad that’s good now, better later. My friend (and author of various guest posts on NDP) Jeremy pointed out that over time, as the kale wilts, it takes on a texture almost like seaweed, which is quite pleasant.

Last week, in the mood for kale salad, I opened the fridge to find I was fresh out of lacinato. I did have a bunch of regular curly-leaf kale, but I knew it would take a thicker, more serious dressing to tame those wiry leaves. Where did I turn? The humble avocado.

Avocado dressings are flat-out underrated. People talk of yogurt, of mayonnaise (the enemy of delicious – I can’t stand the stuff), of buttermilk, but never of avocado. It’s too bad: avocados are smooth and buttery, thick enough to make a beautifully emulsified dressing, and did I mention they’re delicious?

For this salad, I combined kale with those crunchy, juicy asian pears that I can’t seem to get enough of. I added scallions for texture and bite, then dressed the mess with a dressing of soy, rice wine vinegar, and avocado, whipped into submission with the help of grapeseed and sesame oils. And now, I warn you: people, the combination is addictive. I really can’t get enough. I’ve made this dressing three or four times over the past few weeks, tweaking it ever so slightly to get that perfect zestiness. I’ve eaten it on regular kale, on lacinato kale once I replenished my supply, and even used it as a dip for slices of asian pear as an afternoon snack. It’s ridiculously good. Hope you like it as much as I do.

Kale Salad with Avocado Dressing
serves 2

1 bunch kale (any kind – regular or lacinato are both great; mine was about 3 oz)
1 asian pear, halved, cored, and sliced
2 scallions, sliced
1 avocado
juice of 1 lime
1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
water if needed

Rip the kale into medium sized pieces and place in a large bowl. Add sliced scallions and pear.

Scoop the avocado into a medium bowl and use a fork to mash it until totally smooth. Add all the remaining ingredients except the grapeseed oil and stir to combine. Then gradually add the grapeseed oil and whisk until fully combined. If necessary, add water by the tablespoon until dressing is thin enough to pour.

Add dressing to kale salad. Start with half, toss, and add more dressing if necessary. Allow the salad to sit for at least 10 minutes before serving. Salad will keep up to 1 day dressed; dressing will keep up to 1 week in the refrigerator.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Sylvie November 7, 2011,

    I have never had kale as a salad. Interesting.

    • rivka November 7, 2011,

      it’s really good. the acid in the dressing tenderizes the leaves, but unlike lettuce salad, it takes forever to wilt. a true winner, if you ask me.

  • LiztheChef November 8, 2011,

    I’m just falling for kale salads and we have tons of great avocados here all year long. Thanks!

  • Rivki Locker November 8, 2011,

    I haven’t had much luck with raw kale salads (although I am a BIG TIME fan of the stuff, cooked). I find the kale a bit tough and hard to chew. Am I doing something wrong? I SO want to enjoy a salad like this…

    • rivka November 8, 2011,

      Hey Rivki, I think the trick is to let the salad sit for a little while before serving. Lettuce salads would wilt if you let them sit, but the kale leaves, very stiff initially, will soften if dressed and left to wait. Hope this works for you.

  • Brooke November 8, 2011,

    This looks like my son’s new favorite salad. He loves raw kale!

  • Kathryn O November 8, 2011,

    I haven’t been a huge fan of raw kale salads in the past, but you make this sound so good I’m going to give it another shot! I usually find it a bit too tough, but I like your idea to let it sit out and soften a bit. And the dressing sounds just amazing!

    • rivka November 9, 2011,

      Resting the salad really makes a difference. Let us know if you like it!

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