Big Bistro Kale Salad with Walnuts & Blue Cheese
This is one of those substantial main course salads that the French do so well. It also doubles nicely as a side salad without the extra protein.
I’ve actually served this as a side for guests on two occasions and both times it was the dish that got the most compliments! I think people are surprised that a kale salad can be that delicious.
The secret is using a neutral flavoured oil so the vinegar and mustard really dominate the dressing – the perfect punchy counterbalance to the healthy greeness of the kale. I use a regular olive oil (not extra virgin)
If blue cheese isn’t your thing, make sure you check out the variations below. It’s good but definitely not a deal breaker.
I’ve used Cavolo Nero (Tuscan or black kale) in the photo but my absolute flavourite kale for this salad is a curly purple kale from the farmers market. Of course if you’re not a kale fan there are always options in the Variations & Substitutions below…
One more thing… kale salads are great for entertaining (and for work lunches) because you can make them in advance and leave to stand for a few hours before adding the toppings. The acid and salt from the dressing actually soften the kale and make it easier to eat.
There are 7 ingredients listed here but one is oil which I don’t count (along with salt and pepper!).
enough for: 2
takes 15 minutes
1 big bunch kale
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons neutral flavoured oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
handful roasted walnuts
handful blue cheese, crumbled
200g – 400g (4-7oz) cooked chicken or other cooked protein, to serve, optional
1. Tear kale from the stems then rip the leaves into bite sized pieces. Keep the stems for another use.
2. Place vinegar, oil and mustard in a small jar. Shake to emulsify. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Toss dressing in with the kale then top with walnuts, cheese and protein (if using).
WINE MATCH: A nice oaky chardonnay or a lighter red like pinot noir.
Variations & Substitutions
6-ingredients – I don’t count oil, salt and pepper as ingredients.
4-ingredients / über simple – skip the blue cheese and protein and increase the walnuts.
vegetarian – use cooked lentils, chickpeas or extra nuts + cheese as your protein.
carnivore – bacon!
more substantial (carb lovers) – serve with a crusty baguette and butter. Or toss in roast root veg like parsnip, potato, sweet potato or butternut.
more substantial (low carb) – increase the protein and / or walnuts.
dairy-free – extra walnuts or protein. Or serve with a dollop of mayo or sliced avocado instead.
nut-free – roasted chickpeas or toasted sourdough breadcrumbs or croutons instead of the walnuts. Sliced crisp apple will also work.
Waste Avoidance Strategy
kale – will keep in the fridge in a plastic bag uncooked for at least 2 weeks. Once cooked it will keep for a month or so in the fridge. Can be frozen both cooked or raw.
sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar / oil / roasted walnuts / Dijon mustard – keep them in the pantry.
blue cheese – pre-packaged goats cheese can have a shelf life of months. If your packet is opened, though, best to freeze.
cooked chicken – freeze it.
Yes for a few hours! Just dress kale as per the recipe but keep the walnuts, protein and separately. Best up to about 3 hours but will keep in the fridge for a week and still be edible, although probably not dinner-party-worthy. Don’t freeze. To serve,toss salad and sprinkle with cheese, nuts and protein.