A healthy kale salad to satisfy all your sweet, salty and crunchy cravings.
This kale salad is a great winter salad, and when I eat it I don’t feel deprived of fresh green things at all.
It’s sturdy, crunchy, and the radicchio adds a welcome bitter edge. It’s hard not to love the contrast of flavors: salty cheese, sharp lemon, sweet-smoky fruit. And also the temperature contrast of warm, moist dates in a cool salad.
Medjool dates in salad
Medjool dates are dried dates, but far from hard and dry.
They have a rich, candy-like quality and are really kind of luscious, all plump and tender inside.
And you can find them in almost every well-stocked market in the produce section year-round.
I would love to eat a fresh-off-the-tree date, preferably right now while taking in the sight of an azure Mediterranean sky through a spray of palm fronds.
In Miami, where I once lived, huge majestic date palms were planted all around the grounds of fancy hotels and private homes, and at one of my favorite public spaces anywhere, the Fairchild Tropical Gardens.
I’m pretty sure the clusters of brilliant yellow fruit that would sometimes appear on the trees were not good to eat. Date palms are natives of hot, dry desert places.
They thrive in the humid zone of South Florida, often dug up and imported there from other places at huge expense. But while they can flourish on South Beach like sunbathing debutantes, it’s not their ideal climate for fruit-bearing.
I’ll have to wait until I’m in a place like California in winter to bite into a fresh date, an experience that Alice Waters describes in Chez Panisse Fruit as “soft yielding flesh, with a mildly sweet, rich flavor entirely different from that of the hard, wrinkled and cloyingly sweet dates in the package.”
- 6 Medjool dates
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 bunch lacinato (Tuscan) kale, stemmed
- Leaves from 2 romaine lettuce hearts
- 1 small head radicchio
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Flaked sea salt or kosher salt
- 1/3 cup freshly grated aged sheep's milk cheese, such as Manchego or Pecorino Romano
- Heat oven to 375 degrees.
- Halve the dates, remove the pits and slice each half into 4 slivers. Toss the dates with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil and the smoked paprika on a small baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes.
- While the dates are in the oven, rub the garlic on the inside of a big salad or serving bowl.
- Stack the kale leaves 2 or 3 at a time and slice crosswise into thin ribbons; repeat with romaine leaves. Cut the radicchio head in half and cut out the white core; slice the leaves into thin ribbons.
- Put all the leaves in the serving bowl. Add the remaining olive oil, lemon juice, black pepper to taste and a good pinch of salt. Toss with your hands to coat the leaves, add the cheese and toss again. Taste and season with more salt if needed.
- Distribute the warm dates over the salad.
This salad is great to make ahead, as the dressing marinates and softens the kale leaves the longer it sits. Top with the warm dates just before serving.
Serving Size:4 servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 352 Total Fat: 18g Saturated Fat: 6g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 11g Cholesterol: 27mg Sodium: 540mg Carbohydrates: 42g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 3g Sugar: 32g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 9g