Crunchy and hearty, Autumn Kale and Pear Salad is a blend of sweet and savory flavors. A bright vinaigrette pairs perfectly with the bold flavors in the salad.
Popularity of kale
My introduction to kale was at the deli counter. Used primarily as a backdrop and filler for the glass deli case, kale didn't have much appeal. The curly edges and leatherlike surface of the leaves didn't look real.
But then the kale chip craze started. Anything tossed with parmesan and olive oil is worthy, as from as I'm concerned. Like anything trendy and hot, the craze only lasted for a while in my house. The argument that a vegetable is good for you doesn't really hold sway with teenagers.
Kale is everywhere now with people extolling its health benefits. However, kale does have a distinct and strong taste which can be a turn-off for many people. Maybe some love and a few flavors and tweaks can make kale more appealing.
Everything about this salad highlights contrasts. There is the crunchy kale and cabbage versus the creamy pears. The saltiness of the pecorino romano is complimented by the concentrated sweetness of the golden raisins. The toasty flavor of the almond slices is highlighted by the flavor of the citrus-centric vinaigrette.
With all the components combined, this salad is a winner. Celebrate kale, full of crunch and flavor.
Sweet and spicy pears
Fruit is a natural with the herbaceous flavor of kale. This time of year pome fruits are having their time in the sun. I use bosc pears in the salad because they keep their texture when cooked.
Peeled and diced, the pears are sauteed in butter, browning the edges. The best part is the flavor of the syrup that is produced. Add cardamom and a pinch of cayenne to the pears as they brown in the pan. The perfumy aroma from the cardamom calls is enticing. Add some brown sugar to create a slight syrup and you get the sweet/spicy combo that is so good.
Orange Mustard Vinaigrette
This vinaigrette is what creates a homogenous blend of ingredients in the Autumn Kale and Pear Salad. Whole grain mustard, orange zest and juice, grated fresh ginger, and apple cider vinegar combine to create a punchy vinaigrette. The orange flavor partners well with the hearty kale and the mustard seeds add those fun, little pops.
Break down the leaves
There is a tendency to massage kale to break down the leaves. Somehow, massaging isn't a verb that I often associate with food. I just chop the leaves into smaller pieces for better salad eating. I also add baby kale to the mix. More tender and petite in size, baby kale is like a lot of baby lettuces - the flavor is milder.
This is salad, so just toss everything together - the kale, the sliced red cabbage, the sliced shallot, the raisins, the sliced almonds, and the pears. Make sure that the orange mustard vinaigrette is clinging to all the surfaces. Shards of pecorino romano cheese add a salty and savory touch.
The heartiness of this salad just screams autumn. It has a backbone and complexity of flavor that seems perfectly in season right now.
Enjoy the crunchy texture, the sweet, spicy, and savory flavors, and the fruitiness of an Autumn Kale and Pear Salad. This is a filling salad that is kale done right!
Another hearty salad - https://tenpoundcakecompany.com/fall-harvest-salad
Autumn Kale and Pear Salad
- 2 bosc pears 15 ounces/432 grams
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- ¼ teaspoon cardamom
- pinch cayenne
- 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon orange zest
- 2 tablespoons orange juice juice from about ½ orange
- ¼ teaspoon grated ginger
- 2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups red cabbage 6 ounces/166 grams thinly sliced
- 4 cups chopped kale 3.5 ounces/100 grams
- 3 cups baby kale 1.6 ounces/45 grams
- 1 shallot thinly sliced
- ¼ cup golden raisins
- 2 tablespoons sliced almonds
- ½ cups shaved pecorino romano 1.7 ounces/49 grams
- salt and pepper
- Peel and chop bosc pears into medium dice.
- Melt butter in a small saute pan over medium heat. Add the diced pears, browning them for 3-4 minutes. Add the cardamom and the cayenne. Continue to brown the pears for 5-6 minutes.
- Add the brown sugar, letting it melt and bubble. After 3 minutes, take the pan off the heat and add the ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract.
- Let the pears cool while you prepare the other ingredients.
- I find it best to use a jar to make a vinaigrette. You can use a small bowl and a whisk. Combine the orange zest, orange juice, and cider vinegar in a jar. Add ¼ teaspoon of salt and let it dissolve.
- Add the mustard and ginger. Shake jar to combine. Add ¼ teaspoon of ground black pepper and 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the jar. Shake to combine.
- Thinly slice the red cabbage.
- Peel and thinly slice the shallot.
- In a large bowl combine the two kinds of kale, red cabbage, shallots, golden raisins, sliced almonds, and shaved pecorino romano.
- Add the vinaigrette to the bowl and toss salad to distribute.
- Lastly, add the browned pears, tossing to combine with the rest of the salad.