We all need another kale salad (or in this case kale slaw) like we need a hole in our heads. I get it. But just because something has been overplayed in the past doesn’t mean it’s bad. We just have to work a little bit harder to remember why we fell in love in the first place. So come on, let’s rekindle our romance with kale. We’ll start by remembering the good times…
The beauty and benefits of kale
Why did we fall so hard for kale? When we were first introduced, why did we not pass it up for something more palatable, like say spinach? Well I can only guess that kale was in the right place at the right time. We were looking for something healthy, like REALLY HEALTHY. Something that would turn all of our smoothies that rich shade of green that just screams “I do hot yoga!”. And speaking of dense, kale ticked that box as well. No more watery greens that cooked down to nothing. Kale was sturdy, substantial, and hearty! And so we embraced it. We ate it on dates, cooked it at home, and occasionally even brought it home to meet the folks.
But why wasn’t it US + KALE = LOVE 4EVA?
Well because kale made its way in to too many places, and most of those places didn’t treat it right. So instead of seeing kale on a menu or two around town where it was lovingly prepared and enjoyed, it instead crept into every salad joint on every corner of every city in America and beyond. It was in those places where kale was mistreated, misused, and people were miseducated on how to bring out its best qualities. But recently I believe we’ve begun to find our way back.
So how do we make kale delicious?
This is where I let you in on the secret to turning kale from chewy, tough, leathery looking roughage into something you’ll actually want to eat. And the best part is that it’s dead simple. All you need to do to make kale incredibly delicious is to dress it ahead of time (preferably in something delicious and flavorful) and give it a little rub down. Like seriously that’s it. Just sprinkle some salt, vinegar, and oil over a bowl of shredded kale, get in there with your hands, and watch as it transforms from rough and dry to soft and downright luxurious. Then add whatever other stuff you’d like and you’ve got salad. Best part? It keeps beautifully. I would even argue that it gets better the longer is sits. So this salad is a meal prep miracle if I’ve ever seen one.
But the BEST kale salad is more than just kale
Yes, the kale is important but a salad is more than just its greenery. This one is a combination of bitter winter greens (for an adult feel), a zingy orange and honey vinaigrette, and the best part? Duh, the breadcrumbs. Think of them as a shower of teeny tiny croutons littered throughout the bowl, surprising you with hits of salty, buttery, crispy goodness in each and every bite. Put all of those elements together with your lovingly prepared kale and you’ve got a killer dish. But if you’re still worried about scaring people off with the thought of yet another kale salad, just think like me and re-brand a little. I’m calling this one a hearty winter slaw with crispy buttered breadcrumbs (and honestly people will only hear the bit about the buttered breadcrumbs because obvi).
4 tips for how to make winter slaw with crispy buttered breadcrumbs
I’ve already spilled the beans on what to do with the kale, so if that’s the only takeaway here consider yourself well educated. But if you want more keep on reading.
- Make your own breadcrumbs. The breadcrumbs are a BIG part of this recipe – you can buy them if you must, but the variety of texture you get from making them yourself is beyond compare.
- Dress your salad gradually. You can always add more dressing, so take it slow.
- Try out different greens. Of course the bulk of this salad comes from kale, but there’s also radicchio and endive in there which are two slightly bitter greens that don’t get enough love from the salad making community, IMO.
- You can make and dress the salad ahead of time, but wait to sprinkle with the breadcrumbs until serving – because crunchy is king.
So I hope you take this as inspiration for rekindling your relationship with kale. It’ll be better this time I promise. And if you’re looking for more kale-spiration (yes, that’s horrible I know) check these out:
- Spiced Brown Butter Chickpeas with Kale
- Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Kale and Brown Butter
- Shredded Brussels Sprout and Apple Salad (not kale, but in the same wheelhouse)
Thank you. You guys are the best damn blog readers out there (in my humble opinion) and I appreciate you taking the time out of your day to read my jumbly thoughts, make the recipes, and give your feedback! Feel free to drop me a note anytime here or on social media if you have a question or comment – I’d love to hear from you. Happy Friday!Print
Winter Slaw with Buttery Breadcrumbs
This winter slaw is hearty, healthy, and gets a delicious buttery crunch from homemade, crispy breadcrumbs. Best part – you can make it ahead of time!
- Prep Time: 15 Minutes
- Cook Time: 15 Minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 4 Servings
- Category: Salad
- Cuisine: American
For the breadcrumbs:
2-3 C bread (from any rustic loaf), torn into pieces
2 T unsalted butter
1/2 tsp kosher salt
For the salad:
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp honey
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 T rice wine vinegar (unseasoned)
2 T orange juice (from about half a small orange)
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch kale, de-ribbed and shredded (preferably lacinato*)
1 small head radicchio, cored and shredded
1 small head endive, cored and shredded
In a blender or food processor, pulse the bread 10-12 times, until you have irregular crumbs (the largest should be about the size of a chickpea, the smallest will be very fine).
In a medium skillet set over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the breadcrumbs and 1/2 tsp kosher salt. Stir to coat the breadcrumbs in the butter and cook, stirring occasionally for 12-15 minutes, or until they turn a deep golden brown*. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a small bowl whisk together the mustard, honey, salt, pepper, vinegar, and orange juice until combined. Slowly stream in the olive oil, while whisking constantly, until all oil is incorporated and the dressing thickens slightly.*
In a large bowl, combine the greens and the dressing tossing to combine and gently massaging the kale with your hands.
Serve the salad, sprinkling generously with the buttered breadcrumbs.
*Curly kale is also fine, but will need a little bit more massaging than the lacinato (or dinosaur) variety.
*The breadcrumbs will take a little longer to toast than you might think, but resist the urge to walk away – they know and will burn the moment you leave the room. If you go the storebought route re: breadcrumbs, that’s fine, just make sure to buy panko.
*You can also make the dressing in a jar – just combine all ingredients, pop on a lid, and shake aggressively.
Keywords: winter slaw, bitter greens, make ahead salad, winter salad