Although it isn’t technically summer yet according to the calendar, the 90+ degree temperature this week called for cool drinks and refreshing salads. This Middle Eastern kale salad fits the bill perfectly – with just enough zip to awaken your tastebuds, plenty of healthy ingredients to keep your energy level up, and a slightly sweet flavor that leaves you hankering for more.
Although I’ve been a kale salad fan for a while, using dates, toasted walnuts, and soft cheese in kale salad was a new twist for me. I got the idea from Danielle Miller and her blog, Mostly Food and Crafts, my “partner” for this month’s Secret Recipe Club. As I “paged” through the Mostly Food category, I found many dishes I would enjoy. From curried cauliflower steak with chickpeas and feta to healthier chocolate donuts, Danielle has drool-worthy recipes that are healthy too.
Danielle is inspiring me in another way too – I discovered that she wears a Fitbit (as I do), she completed the Couch to 5K program earlier this year, and she has already moved on to the 10K program. I’ve been trying to step up my exercise game and I’m slowly working my way through a similar program (an app on your phone that you follow as you train), but haven’t yet completed the 5K module. Reading about her progress, I’m motivated to continue my training and re-double my efforts.
Here’s how I adapted Danielle’s kale salad and turned it into Middle Eastern kale salad.
Middle Eastern Kale Salad
Servings – 4-6 Cost $6
- 1 large bunch of kale (about 10-12 ounces) – either red or curly green or a mix
- ½ large lemon or 1 small lemon cut into halves
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon white balsamic or unseasoned rice vinegar
- 3 teaspoons honey
- 3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- ¼ cup chopped dates (If your dates are hard, moisten them in a small bowl or ramekin of hot water for a few minutes before chopping them.)
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts, toasted at 325 degrees for about 5-7 minutes until fragrant
- 1-2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled or cut into small pieces (less than ¼ cup)
- Cutting board
- Large bowl
- Small jar with lid
- Measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
- Large spoon and fork for tossing
- After washing and drying the kale, run the cut lemon over each kale leaf, front and back. Fold the leaves in half and cut off and discard the thick, center rib. Then roll 1-2 leaves up into a short cigar shape and cut it thinly into long strips. Don’t be concerned if the strips break; the idea is to make a pile of kale strands. If you have a bunch of extra pieces, pile them on top of each other, roll them, and treat them as you would a single leaf.
- Put the kale in the large bowl. Squeeze the rest of the juice from the lemon onto the kale. and scrunch the kale with your hands for a few minutes. This massage will darken it and makes the kale sweeter, silkier, and less bitter.
- Put the vinegar, honey, oil, salt, and ground pepper in the jar, cover and shake it vigorously for a 10-20 seconds. (If you don’t have a jar, whisk it in a small bowl.) Then pour the dressing over the kale, add the dates and walnuts, and toss the salad. Let the salad marinate for about 20-30 minutes at room temperature, tossing occasionally.
- Just before serving, add the goat cheese.