Super-healthy and utterly delicious kale salad with smoky roasted chickpeas and a lemony Parmesan dressing. Get your greens on!
A few years ago I got into the habit of eating daily greens, and by daily I mean All Day, to the point of actually craving them.
I even eat them for breakfast, adding a little pile of leafy greens near, under or around a 6-minute boiled egg and a piece of toasted sourdough bread.
Sometimes I grab a handful of baby arugula or maybe some wilted broccoli rabe leftover from last night’s rigatoni and sausage pasta.
For dinner or a quick meal, I usually just toss whatever greens we have into a skillet with a little olive oil and garlic, but this Tuscan kale and chickpea salad might be the best and tastiest way to eat raw kale greens.
How to make Tuscan kale salad
This salad tastes like an incredibly healthy Caesar salad (only without the anchovy and croutons on top), and it’s simple to put together, too.
The sturdy, crinkled kale leaves hold up well to the lemony dressing, which is tangy, garlicky and utterly crave-worthy.
As a matter of fact, letting the dressing mingle with the kale for a bit before eating only improves the flavor and texture.
You can even make it hours ahead of time with no fear of ending up with a wilted, soggy salad.
What’s Tuscan kale?
Tuscan kale is an Italian variety of leafy brassica related to cauliflower, broccoli, collards and Brussels sprouts.
Kale comes in a variety of textures and colors, but Tuscan kale stands out from the crowd with its blue-black color and deeply crinkled leaves.
Tuscan kale goes by a few different names — which is annoying, because it can be confusing when you’re shopping for it.
Just know that when you see kale labeled as Lacinato, Dinosaur, black kale or cavalo nero, it’s all Tuscan kale.
No matter what you call it, Tuscan kale is one of the most nutritious foods you can eat, loaded with extraordinary amounts of vitamins (A, K and C) as well as calcium.
If you can’t find Tuscan kale, curly kale will work just as well in this salad.
How to prepare Tuscan kale
The best way to prepare Tuscan kale, or any kale, for a salad is by removing the tough rib that runs down the middle of the leaves.
You can either do this by hand by literally tearing it out, or use a knife to cut the ribs out one by one.
To shred the kale into ribbons for the salad, make a manageable stack of leaves and turn them so that their long side is horizontally aligned with your cutting board.
Then use a large, sharp knife and slice the kale crosswise into 1/4-inch or so ribbons.
Put the leaves in a colander or salad spinner and give them a good rinse. Spin or blot dry and you’re ready to go.
To prepare the kale ahead of time, just put the shredded leaves in a zippered storage bag along with a paper towel to absorb excess water. Stick the bag in the fridge, where it keeps beautifully for about a week.
The smoky roasted chickpeas in this salad can be just a tad addictive.
But there are way worse things out there to be obsessed with than chickpeas, so that’s a very good thing!
Make a double batch and eat them straight-up as a snack, or keep them in the fridge for sprinkling on salads, pasta or roasted vegetables.
Tuscan Kale Salad with Smoky Roasted Chickpeas
- 1 (425 g) 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
- Kosher salt
- 5 tablespoons (112 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) white wine vinegar
- 1 small garlic clove, grated or finely chopped
- 1/4 cup (25 g) freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano, plus a small wedge for serving
- 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 bunches (400 g) (12-14 ounces) Tuscan or lacinato kale (8 cups), ribs removed
- Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Toss the chickpeas on a small rimmed baking sheet or large ovenproof skillet with the pimenton, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 2 tablespoon of the olive oil until they're evenly coated with the spices. Roast 15 - 20 minutes - they should smell fragrant and look slightly shriveled.
- Put the lemon zest, juice, vinegar and garlic in a bowl and add 3/4 teaspoon salt, stirring to dissolve the salt. Whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, the cheese and red pepper. Taste and season with a pinch more salt if you think it needs some.
- Stack the kale leaves into a loose pile and slice crosswise into thin ribbons. Wash and spin dry, then blot with a clean towel if they're dripping wet.
- Put the kale in a serving bowl. Pour the dressing over and toss the leaves with your hands so that they're evenly coated (your hands will taste yummy). Toss in the chickpeas to coat with the dressing.
- Shave curls of cheese over the salad with a swivel vegetable peeler. Sprinkle the salad with more chili and grated lemon as a garnish, if you like.
- This salad holds up great for a few hours at room temperature.
- To make ahead, toss the kale with the dressing, keeping the chickpeas separate, for up to 2 days in the fridge. Top with the chickpeas when ready to eat.