I made this salad last week for a friend's family's holiday dinner. I had made something similar the year before and resisted writing about it, but this year when I made it again for many of the same people I realized there was a serious need out there to continue discussing kale salad publicly. People wanted the recipe because using kale instead of spring mix or romaine or whatever still isn't the norm for a lot of folks. So I continue in my kale salad advocacy campaign.
This is my go-to winter kale salad. I know it's April, and we're all excited about the brand new veg that are on their way. Go ahead and make a kale salad and add those veg. But even without the bright green goodness that spring and summer bring, this is a pretty mean salad. To read about my conversion to kale, please click here. To read about an awesome kale salad for summer, please click here. Otherwise, let's add some tangy dried cranberries and some onion and make this salad happen.
Destem your kale.
Wash your kale. If you placed your onion and cranberries on top of your unwashed kale for a photo, wash them too.
Thinly slice your onion. I rely on a mandoline for this, but if you're handy with a knife, that works too. I think thinly sliced onion is salad's best friend, kale or otherwise. Greens that have spent quality time in the fridge with thinly sliced onion don't need much in the way of dressing. They're ready.
Get some salt. This is kind of a lot of salt. I used a little more than half a teaspoon for a bunch of kale (two hearty servings). This gets drained so you're not ingesting all of it, but you need a good bit to start with. I prefer to use sea salt or other coarse salt - this is "fine," but it's coarser than table salt.
Get some vinegar or lemon juice. I usually go with lemon juice, but last week I tried vinegar and it worked really well, so I'll bring that into the rotation. About two tablespoons.
Add that to your salad. This salad is in a clear bowl, but I think it looks like it's levitating. Kale salad is wonderful, but perhaps not magic.
Now massage it. The vinegar (or lemon juice) and salt will tenderize it. With your bare hands - checking first for papercuts and hangnails, what with the vinegar and all - tear it up, twist it, wring it out, and generally mush it around. Spend 3-5 minutes on this per bunch of kale (last week's four-bunch salad required a tag team effort).
As you're doing this, green liquid will pool at the bottom of your bowl, as illustrated in the blurry photo below. This is your friend. Rub the kale into the liquid. Wring out the kale. Rub it into the liquid again.
Your kale will radically decrease in volume. Your fingernails will turn green.
Add in your cranberries (a cup or so per bunch) and onions (a quarter of a red onion, sliced very thin).
Toss that together and stick it in the fridge. Let it chill with that green liquid for at least an hour, but overnight is really best.
After a while in the fridge the kale will be more tender, the onions will be more mild (and greenish), and the dried cranberries will have plumped a bit and be softer. Drain off the remaining green liquid.
You can serve it as is, or dress it like any other salad. I like to use strawberry balsamic dressing and candied walnuts.
This recipe is cross-posted at the blog for the South Philly Food Co-op, whose mission is to open a member-owned cooperative grocery store that provides affordable and nutritious food to all residents of South Philadelphia while empowering the local community through sustainable practices, food-centric education, outreach, and community building.
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Cranberry Kale Salad
1 bunch kale
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
Wash and destem the kale. Add salt and vinegar and massage for 3-5 minutes, tearing the kale as you go. Kale will decrease in volume and green liquid will gather in the bowl.
Add cranberries and onions, toss vigorously and refrigerate for at least an hour, overnight is best.
Drain and serve, as is or dressed.
Serves two to four.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Wait time: at least 1 hour