Pretty. Easy. Kale Salad

It’s the countdown to the biggest cooking day of the year and, in the whirlwind of inviting, planning, shopping, and prepping, you just might forget to eat before you eat — know what I mean? While some like to starve before they dive into the Thanksgiving meal, I’m of a different camp: the one that eats a healthy, hearty salad. Here’s a kale salad that fits that bill and is pretty easy to make.

Speaking of which, Pretty. Easy. is also the name of a new series on the site where I’ll be sharing recipes that are seriously simple and easy on the eyes. But, back to the salad at hand: it’s quick enough to throw together whenever hunger strikes, yet festive enough to bring out for Thanksgiving, assuming you haven’t already eaten it all beforehand.

Kale Salad with Pears, Persimmons, and Honey-Spiced Nuts

Kale Salad with Pears, Persimmons, and Honey-Spiced Nuts Recipe

This salad can also be made ahead as it only gets tastier the longer it sits — just combine the kale with the vinegar and salt, let sit (refrigerated) up to 24 hours and toss with remaining ingredients just before serving. Also, you’ll end up with more honey-spiced nuts than you need, so save the rest for a snack or a quick happy hour nibble.

  • Makes: 4 servings (1 cup peanuts)

Ingredients

  • For the nuts:
  • 1 cup shelled, roasted and salted peanuts or cashews
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • Pinch of salt or dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • For the salad:
  • 1 bunch kale (about 8 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive or grapeseed oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 medium ripe Fuyu persimmon
  • 1 medium ripe Anjou pear
  • 1 medium shallot

Instructions

For the nuts:

Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Combine the nuts with honey and paprika and a pinch of salt or Worcestershire sauce and mix until well coated. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and roast, stirring every 5 minutes, until golden brown and aromatic, about 10 to 15 minutes total. Set aside to cool completely. (Can be made up to 4 days ahead of time and stored at room temperature.)

For the salad:

Fold each kale leaf in half lengthwise then pull out and discard the center rib. Tear leaves into bite-sized pieces and place in a large nonreactive bowl (you should have about 6 cups).

Add vinegar and salt to kale and, with clean hands, rub and gently squeeze the kale until it just begins to soften and wilt (it will darken in color). Add oil, honey, and mustard, toss to coat and set aside while you prepare the rest, at least 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, quarter the persimmon, discard the stem, and cut persimmon into paper thin slices. Halve and core the pear and cut into thin slices. Trim the shallot, halve it lengthwise, and cut into thin slices. Add fruit and shallots to salad, as well as some freshly ground black pepper, and toss gently to mix.

Taste salad and add more salt or vinegar, as desired. Divide salad among plates, sprinkle each with 1 to 2 tbsp of nuts and serve.


Simplified:

Save some time by using storebought honey roasted peanuts.

Glorified:

Top with some shaved hard aged cheese, such as a good Parmesan or Pecorino, and/or some roasted squash.

Modified:

You could also blanch the kale quickly (for about 30 seconds) if you don’t like it raw.

Soak the shallot in the juice of 1 lemon for about 5 minutes so as to make it less harsh tasting.


Pretty Easy is a monthly feature showcasing doable yet interesting recipes. Even those who fear cooking often find success with these recipes.


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