This is a bold winter salad that celebrates my favorite ways of enjoying kale. I love that kale is an unfussy salad standby, sturdy enough to dress in advance. On the flip side, when roasted, kale becomes crisp and rich and irresistible. Combined with juicy blood oranges, toasted almonds and a salty olive dressing (a nod to the classic fennel-orange-olive combination), this best-of-both-worlds salad is sure to perk up the coldest of winter days. —gingerroot
For the salad
6 oz baby Red Russian kale (about 7-8 cups), thoroughly washed, dried and roughly chopped
8 oz lacinato kale (about 24 leaves) - also called Dino or Tuscan kale, thoroughly washed and dried
olive oil, divided
Spanish paprika, divided
2 blood oranges plus 1 T juice for dressing, if desired
cup sliced almonds (from bulk bins), toasted
For the dressing
cured small black olives (dry cured or oil cured from the olive bar), pitted
Preheat your oven to 350 ° Fahrenheit. Arrange your racks in the middle and bottom third of your oven.
Make sure your lacinato kale leaves are as dry as you can get them. This will ensure crispy roasted kale rather than soggy roasted kale. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with a single layer of lacinato kale. I fit about 12 whole leaves. Repeat with another pan and remaining kale. I’ve found that roasting whole leaves rather than cut pieces reduces the chance of uneven roasting or burning. On each sheet, toss leaves with 1 T olive oil and 1/2 t Spanish paprika until evenly coated. Resist the urge to add a pinch of salt (you won't need it with the dressing). Roast for 7 minutes, setting a timer.
Make your dressing by combining pitted olives, olive oil and sherry vinegar in a mini-prep or similar appliance (food processor and blender should also work). Pulse until well combined. Taste dressing and if too salty, add up to 1 T blood orange juice (start with 1 t). Pulse again
By this time your roasted kale timer should be buzzing. Swap pan positions, front to back and top to bottom. Set your timer for 6 minutes.
Place chopped baby kale in a large bowl for mixing. Using a small spatula or spoon, add ½ of dressing by folding and pressing the dressing into the kale until evenly coated. Knowing that the dressing will begin to wilt the raw leaves a little as it sits, taste dressed kale and use your best judgment to determine if you need more dressing. Add as needed
Prep oranges by trimming off very top and bottom of each with a sharp paring knife. Set the fruit on end and very carefully cut the skin from its flesh, following the curve from top to bottom with your knife. Slice fruit crosswise into wheels (or half moons), and push out any seeds. Add to dressed baby kale.
Remove roasted kale from oven. Leaves should be crisp and a golden dark green. Allow to cool and using shears, stack multiple leaves and thickly cut crosswise into bowl. My stems were tender so I included all but the very end (about 1 inch). If your stems are too thick and tough, slice kale lengthwise on either side of stem before stacking and cutting with shears.
Toss salad gently but thoroughly with tongs, making sure to pull up the dressed kale from the bottom of the bowl. Add more dressing to taste if desired. Plate on a platter and top with toasted sliced almonds. Enjoy immediately.
My most vivid childhood memories have to do with family and food. As a kid, I had the good fortune of having a mom who always encouraged trying new things, and two grandmothers who invited me into their kitchens at a young age. I enjoy cooking for the joy it brings me - sharing food with loved ones - and as a stress release. I turn to it equally during good times and bad. Now that I have two young children, I try to be conscientious about what we cook and eat. Right about the time I joined food52, I planted my first raised bed garden and joined a CSA; between the two I try to cook as sustainably and organically as I can. Although I'm usually cooking alone, my children are my favorite kitchen companions and I love cooking with them. I hope when they are grown they will look back fondly at our time spent in the kitchen, as they teach their loved ones about food-love.
Best of all, after years on the mainland for college and graduate school, I get to eat and cook and raise my children in my hometown of Honolulu, HI. When I'm not cooking, I am helping others grow their own organic food or teaching schoolchildren about art.