Along for the ride, but with a better view.

Kale Pomegranate Salad

I am lying in bed surrounded by tissues, humidifier on full blast, some food game show half keeping my attention, with a cup of ginger, lemon and honey that keeps getting too cold before I can finish it. I really don’t think this is that sickness (I really hope it is not) but nonetheless all of the things on my to-do list are just languishing there. I made my go-to-when-sick, toast, that is easy to make and comforting but then, just as I was about to try napping, I thought of kale salad. Maybe my body need some anti-oxidants and nutrients stat, but the kale salad with pomegranate and toasted walnuts that I made a few weeks ago at my parent’s house came into my head. The ingredients for which have been waiting behind the scenes in the fridge like actors waiting for me to call “places”. But can I muster the energy to make it? Washing the crevices of kale is a chore at the best of times, and freeing the arils of a pomegranate a task so difficult there are copious tutorials and videos for it online.
The kale salad is somewhat of a foodie joke lately because of its heavy presence on the menus of local-driven restaurants wanting to serve a dressed green and having much more kale than butter lettuce in the winter months. But not going out to eat as much as your average food critic, and living in a city that seems at least 6 years behind New York in terms of food, I’ve been eating my kale cooked. This recipe from Joy the Baker was the thing that got the kale salad idea implanted in my brain, while a Martha Stewart’s Whole Living recipe brought pomegranate seeds to the party. In the end I sort of made a Wuzzle (I apologize if you now can’t get the theme song out of your head) of the recipes, using the ingredients from the Whole Living recipe, and using Joy’s dressing. I made a few changes, including taking out the red onion because onions in the winter tend to be super strong tasting, and I replaced the honey in the dressing with maple syrup which I think was a perfect touch because honey can be overpowering while it sweetens, and I sometimes find it cloying.
I mixed everything except the nuts an hour or so early so that the kale could soften in the dressing and the flavors could marry. The leftovers the next day were really delicious too, with a stronger flavor and the kale softened up some. So you could even leave it overnight if you wanted to give your molars a bit of a break. I like kale, probably more than the average person, but I thought this salad was transcendent. It, to me, felt almost like eating dessert, and then getting to feel a little self-righteous about it. I couldn’t wait to make it again.
The beautiful colors make it perfect for a holiday or dinner party.
Kale Salad with Pomegranate Seeds and Toasted Walnuts
-Big bunch of kale, washed, stems removed and torn or cut into pieces. I used good ol’ curly kale, but you could try any kind.
-Seeds from one pomegranate, unless you have a really big pomegranate, and then maybe save some seeds for later. You can buy them pre-packaged, but I find it cheaper and not too difficult to just buy the whole fruit and de-seed it. Doing it in a bowl of water is the easiest, least messy way I’ve found. Also, to quarter the fruit, don’t cut all the way through, rather just score it and then wiggle your knife in so you can pull the pieces apart with your hands. This way you don’t cut into the arils.
-1/2 cup toasted walnuts or pecans (you could even try pine nuts, almonds, something else crunchy that you love). To toast nuts, spread in single layer on a baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for 5-10 minutes, watching and smelling for doneness.
-3 Tablespoons olive oil
-1 1/2 Tablespoons vinegar (red wine, white wine, apple cider, choose your poison. I used red wine.)
-1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
-1 1/2 Teaspoons maple syrup (again, original recipe called for honey, so you could use that if you’re out of maple syrup, or even experiment with other sweeteners, or none at all! I think the maple syrup is perfect.)
-salt and pepper to taste
Toss kale and pomegranate seeds together. Mix dressing ingredients in a separate bowl and pour over. Toss to coat and let sit for an hour or so*. Add nuts just before serving.
I did manage to get out of bed and put together this (really very quick and easy!) salad, and I feel certain that, even if it doesn’t cure me, it will at least taste amazing.
*Or just serve right away! No big deal! Just a little crunchier!

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