Fresh, bitter Tuscan kale in a bright vinaigrette makes the perfect counterpoint to a rich and decadent fall meal.
Banyuls vinegar – a mellow and nuanced red wine vinegar – brings not only acidity, but also some sweet, nutty flavors to this kale salad. Peppery Dijon mustard and sweet honey balance the vinaigrette. Meanwhile, candied pecans with a touch of cayenne layer on additional sweetness, nuttiness and heat – while adding a crunchy texture to the dish.
- Clean your greens. For a salad that isn’t sandy or watered-down, always wash your greens very well and then dry them before dressing them with vinaigrette.
- The perfect cut. When julienning the kale, try to use a front to back sawing motion as you slice. Avoid pressing down on the leaves, as this will bruise them.
- Double-duty pecans. These candied pecans can also be sprinkled over sweet potato puree. Their crunchy nuttiness goes well with a sweet, smooth and rich side dish.
These tools are the ones we find especially helpful when making this dish.
- Salad spinner. This ingenious device involves a spinning basket inside a bowl. Wet lettuce or leafy greens are placed inside the basket and when it spins, centrifugal force pulls the water off the leaves, through the basket and into the bowl – leaving the greens crisp and dry.
The list below includes all the equipment you’ll want to make this dish.
Bowl and whisk
Spoon or fork
Small sheet pan with wax paper or parchment
Knife and cutting board
For candied pecans:
- 1 egg white
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 3 cups pecans
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
For marinated kale:
- ¼ cup Banyuls vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
- 2 tablepsoons honey
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon minced shallots
- ¾ cup olive oil
- 1 pound kale leaves, preferably Tuscan kale, cut into 1/8-inch thick slices
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Active Time: 15 minutes
- Whisk egg white with the cayenne in a medium sized bowl. Add a heavy pinch of salt. Add enough powdered sugar to create a thick glaze, one that is pourable but thick. In order to achieve this consistency, a bit more powdered sugar might need to be added. Toss pecans in bowl and coat with mixture.
- On a baking sheet lined with wax paper, spread coated pecans by transferring pecans with a fork onto sheet. Do not pour pecans onto sheet or too much glaze will stick to the nuts. Place in oven set to 300°F for 12 to 15 minutes, until they’re nice and golden.
- In a small bowl, combine the mustard, honey, minced shallots and red wine vinegar. Slowly drizzle olive oil into mixture while whisking.
- Place kale leaves in a large bowl and season with pepper. Drizzle vinaigrette, just enough to lightly coat kale, along the sides of the bowl. Store any excess vinaigrette in the refrigerator for future use. Stir to combine. Let kale marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
- When ready to serve, chop pecans and place approximately 1/2 cup to 1 cup of chopped pecans on top of dressed kale salad. Store and reserve extra candied pecans for future use.
Pecan kale salad with quinoa & fresh fruit
Build on this pecan kale salad for a filling vegetarian meal. Just add diced dried fruit, minced red onion and a hearty grain such as quinoa.