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Monday, December 15, 2014

Kale Salad With Toasted Spice Vinaigrette

You’re probably sick of kale salads, but I will defend them into eternity. Kale is just easier to keep around than lettuce (no going slimy in the crisper drawer after a few days), and since kale is sturdier, it lets you pour on the dressing well ahead of serving and, arguably, tastes better if allowed to marinate for a few hours or even overnight.

So, kale salad it is.

This one is studded with pomegranate seeds, citrus segments, cubes of cheese, slivers of red onion, and toasted walnuts. The whole thing is dressed with a lemony, toasted spice vinaigrette made of crushed coriander seeds and a few healthy pinches of cumin and caraway seeds, but feel free to add other spices that you like. Fennel seeds or even nigella seeds would work wonderfully here. The vinaigrette ingredients are left intentionally vague, because it’s really a matter of adding things to your taste. My basic formula for a vinaigrette is 1 1/2 parts oil to 1 part acidic thing (vinegar or lemon), plus some mustard and honey to bind it all together, plus some salt and other spices to match my mood. Play around with it, and make it yours.

The best part, I think, is that you can prepare it a day ahead of time and it will still be delicious for your holiday feast. And if you happen to have leftovers, it makes a great breakfast topped with a fried or poached egg (like most things, I’d say.)


1 bunch of kale (whatever type)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
A few glugs of olive oil
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (from about 1/2 a pomegranate – save the rest for Cranberry Pomegranate Crisp!)
1 orange, 2 tangerines, or 3 clementines, peeled and cut in segments
About 1/3 cup of cubed cheese (white cheddar, gouda, or Manchego are nice)
Thin slice of red onion, cut in slivers (or to taste)
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped


1 teaspoon coriander seeds, lightly crushed in a mortar and pestle
1 or 2 big pinches of cumin seeds
1 pinch of caraway seeds
Juice of two lemons
Dash of balsamic vinegar
3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
Spoonful of grainy mustard
Spoonful of honey
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Remove and discard or otherwise use the tough stems from the kale, then slice the leaves into thin strips about 1/4-inch wide. Give the whole thing a chop to make smaller pieces, then put in a large bowl. Add a few glugs of olive oil and the salt, then massage (yes, massage) the kale for a minute with your fingers. This tenderizes the kale and opens it up for the vinaigrette to seep in and flavor it later.  Add the pomegranate seeds, citrus segments, cheese, onion slivers, and walnuts.

In a small dry (don’t add oil!) skillet set over medium heat, lightly toast the coriander, cumin, and caraway seeds until fragrant, shaking the pan often so the seeds don’t burn. This will just take a few minutes. Remove the seeds to a small jar with a lid, then add the rest of the ingredients and shake everything together until combined. (You can also whisk it all together in a bowl, I just find shaking it in a jar simpler.) Taste the vinaigrette and adjust as you like.

Pour the dressing over the salad, tossing to combine. You can dress the salad up to a day in advance.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings


Kara Elder grew up playing in the kitchen cupboards and reading cookbooks for fun while watching her mom cook tasty Mexican meals. After graduating with a degree in Russian, she found herself increasingly interested in reading food blogs and planning menus. Kara is a Bazaar Spices Team Member and works for Joan Nathan, a DC-based cookbook author and food writer. She also writes for the Jewish Food Experience 

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