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Author Notes: This recipe is inspired by a salad I had at Imperial on a recent trip to Portland. Before this, the only way I’d really had kale was in the all-popular chip variety – tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted under the broiler until crisp. But I had heard about kale salads, and I was curious, so that’s what I ordered for lunch. It was the best salad I’d ever had. Every bite was perfection – ribbons of kale evenly dressed with a creamy vinaigrette, thinly sliced carrots for color and crunch, and sunflower brittle in place of the croutons. Brittle! In a salad! The epitome of savory and sweet. For the brittle in my make-at-home version, I decided to use almonds, and I played with various sugar/corn syrup/water ratios to arrive at this one. —Kellie Phelan
Serves 6 as a side, 4 as a main
For the brittle
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 cup blanched whole almonds
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon flaked sea salt (such as Maldon)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place almonds on a rimmed backing sheet and toast for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once cool, coarsely chop.
- Cover a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment.
- Combine sugar, water, and salt in heavy large saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves.
- Increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil. Boil without stirring until mixture turns caramel-colored, about 10 minutes. (If you have a candy thermometer it should register 325°F.)
- Remove from heat; immediately stir in almonds, then butter and baking soda.
- Pour mixture onto prepared baking sheet. Using a wooden spoon, quickly spread to an even thickness, covering about half of the baking sheet (it doesn’t have to be perfect!).
- Sprinkle sea salt evenly over brittle.
- Cool brittle completely at room temperature until firm, about 2 hours.
- This is the fun part! Lift the baking sheet about a foot over your kitchen counter and let it drop. Repeat this a few times until the brittle has broken into irregular pieces – some big and some small.
For the salad
- 1 pound lacinato kale (also called Tuscan kale), stems and center ribs discarded (it’s okay to substitute regular kale if that’s all you can find!)
- 2 carrots, outside skins peeled or washed with bottoms chopped off
- 2 tablespoons shallot, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 ounces goat cheese
- Working in batches, cut kale crosswise into very thin slices.
- Using a vegetable peeler, peel the down the length of each carrot to create ribbons.
- Whisk together shallot, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl, then add oil in a slow stream, whisking constantly. Next, add goat cheese and whisk until well-combined and creamy.
- Toss kale and carrots in a large bowl with enough dressing to coat well, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add brittle pieces as you would croutons, and enjoy!