Kale Salad

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I had never thought much about kale until I saw this article in Bon Appetit by Molly Wizenberg.  That was maybe the first time kale hit my radar as something I should try and not just as the little garnish on the plates at Shoneys.  It wasn't too long after that Drew and I went to 131 Main in Asheville, and kale salad was listed as a side dish.  I asked the waiter to describe it, and it seemed like it might be a good choice.  Oh how right I was!  This quickly became one of my favorite winter salads, and after asking the waiter to repeat its contents (I'm not so good at identifying every ingredient yet), I made notes and determined I had to replicate this salad at home.  I think I've hit success.  So, this recipe is sort of one of my originals, having been developed by me and inspired by the dish I had at 131 Main. 

In my opinion, this salad is best served in smaller quantities; think side salad rather than entree.  The kale needs to be very thinly sliced into 1''-2'' ribbons (think the size of shredded iceberg lettuce).  If you're not very familiar with kale, it's a strong green, slightly bitter, and usually not served raw.  If it's not thinly sliced, the leaf may be a bit much for you.  In this salad, its straightforwardness is matched with lemon juice and parmesan cheese to create a dish with slightly tangy, bright, and hearty qualities with every bite.  When purchasing kale, you want a nice, sturdy, green leaf.  Most of the ones around here have been wilty and flimsy this winter, and you need the sturdiness. 

Kale Salad
from my kitchen, inspired by 131 Main

4 cups thinly sliced kale leaves (maybe about 1/2 bunch or 1/4 lb)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/4-1/2 cup parmesan (or parmigiano reggiano) cheese, grated
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
1 garlic clove, minced, pressed, or grated (or 1/4 tsp garlic powder)
Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)

In a bowl large enough to hold the kale and do some tossing, add the kale.  In a smaller bowl, combine the olive oil and lemon juice.  Pour about half the lemon juice/olive oil mixture over the kale and toss.  Add in the cheese, bread crumbs, garlic, and red pepper, if using, and toss to combine.  Taste and adjust seasonings/flavors to your liking.  Serve immediately or place in refrigerator until needed.  Serves 4. 

Note:  Being that I am not a careful measurer when not baking, you may want or need to adjust the quantities of certain ingredients.  I did try to estimate to the best of my abilities.  The kale salad should be well dressed but not drenched, and the parmesan noticeable but not overpowering.  As with so many dishes, this is one of balanced flavors.  If you feel the lemon flavor needs punching up, add in some zest or more juice.

Comments (11)

I am not sure if the changes I made will help, but (thanks, Amanda!) a reader contacted me and let me know that she was having trouble posting and that others have experienced similar problems. I hope the changes I made solve the problem, but if not, let me know via FB or e-mail if you know me there. Thanks!

It looks like it's working now!

yay! thanks Amanda!

The bread crumbs are crushed before adding to the salad. I think it's reggiano cheese. And the oil/lemon ratio was a 2-1 or similar. I asked some of the former managers and they told me, but I don't recall specifics!

I'm trying to figure out how you sliced it that thinly in the picture? The salad is DELISH, but I can't seem to get it quite that thin (without slicing a finger off)

Hi @JennyThinking- sorry for just now seeing this and getting back to you! I just used a chef's knife and did my best to slice thinly. I usually de-stem the kale leaves and then cut them lengthwise so I have 3-4 long strips per leaf that is maybe 1 inch or so wide. I then stack them on top of each other and slice thin. Maybe a chiffonade would work for you here?

Thank you so much for this recipe! Asheville is full of restaurants with kale salads, and this is my favorite one!

Thanks for your comment and you're welcome, Erika! I'm with you. This salad is one of my favorites and I don't live close to 131 Main, so I'm glad to be able to make it at home!

I just had the 131 Main kale salad yesterday. Which is why I was looking for the recipe and in addition to kale, it has chicken, fire roasted corn, cucumber, quinoa, artichoke hearts, red pepper, goat cheese, and tomato garnish. The 131 main kale salad is mostly other ingredients, not mostly kale. I'm sure this kale salad is tasty, it looks yummy and very healthy, but it is missing a lot of the ingredients I saw, and tasted, in my salad yesterday. I'll use this as a base and add from there...thanks!

Yours is the main salad. This post is for the side salad which is also often served with entree meats.

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