Summertime brings to mind anything and everything that is Cool, Crisp and Refreshing. Salads are on the top of the list. When the weather gets hot and muggy your body gets really sluggish when you eat a big heavy meal. The preferred choice for most is that light and delicious salad.
Yet for many it is not the easiest choice, especially if you want to make a low carb salad. Of course, your best low carb salads do not contain any starch such as pasta or potato. Luckily salads have changed and restaurants have inspired the evolution of amazing salads that are so much more than the three sold at the deli counter. Yes, I am talking about the mayonnaise based potato salad, macaroni salad, and coleslaw that came out of a box. Today however, even the deli counters are getting into the gourmet salad groove, trying to keep up with the international Salad bars across the country.
One of the most popular and hottest greens on the market today is Kale! For years no one really knew what to do with it, even though it was available year round and very inexpensive. Southerners were ahead of the game when it came to kale and collard greens. They were staples in soups and stews, boiled with a ham hock and some black eyed peas, yum!
Now for all my Greek friends out there, dandelion greens were the kale substitute. I remember my grandmother, mother, and mother-in-law all pulling off the road if they saw the wild dandelion greens growing on the hillside. Yes, and I have many friends with pictures of their grandmothers bending over on the side of the road filling buckets with these greens.
The funny thing is back then, whether it was kale, collards or dandelion greens they all were made the same way. Boiled for hours until they became tender, then tossed with olive oil, lemon, salt, and pepper transforming these bitter tough greens into a delicious accompaniment to seafood or chicken.
I have been catering for 35 years and every job I have requires kale and it is not even on the menu, lol! By that I mean I only used it in its raw form to decorate and separate my veggie, fruit and cheese displays. Or to nestle crab balls in its curly leaves, like little hands so they don’t roll all over the plate.
Today however, Kale is King! It has become the super food of today’s foodies and a strong staple in all restaurants. There are many reasons, it is packed full of vitamins K, A & C, it is very inexpensive, it is available year round and it is very versatile. For kale can be boiled, baked, fried, purred for desserts or eaten raw. The best part is cooked or raw, Kale does not lose its color or integrity, that’s right those curly little leaves hold up to all temperatures. Therefore perfect for a salad and the best part you can make a salad with kale and toss in dressing hours before you need to serve it and it still holds its shape and color.
The recipe I have for you today is very easy, simple and delicious. I have roasted the kale first, then cut it up for the salad.Roasted Kale Chips have become a popular replacement for Potato Chips. Really you say… well believe it, they become crispy, salty and light, just like a potato chip. The absolute best is that they have barely any calories and tons of vitamins, you can munch away without the guilt. Ok, here is my recipe for a great kale salad, you are gonna love it!
Roasted Kale and Tomato, Cucumber Salad with Feta Mint dressing
Prep time: 15 min
Bake time: 30 min
Serves: 6-8 as a side salad
- *8 stalks of curly kale (rinsed and shaken)
- extra virgin olive oil for dousing
- sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
- *2 pounds cherry or grape tomatoes
- 1 pound thin haricot vert (string beans), cut in half on bias, (angle)
- 1 cup fresh mint leaves (pull each leaf off of stem, do not chop)
- sea salt and cracked pepper
- extra virgin olive oil for dousing
- *1 english cucumber (not seeded or peeled, cut in small dice)
- 1 bunch scallion (sliced small, white and green parts)
Line the kale on a baking sheet and sprinkle generously with olive oil, salt, and pepper. roast in a preheated 400-degree oven for about 10 minutes, until tips of kale are brown. Remove from oven and let cool. Turn the oven up to 475 degrees and place the tomatoes, string beans and whole mint leaves on a baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with olive oil, toss until well coated and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 475 for around 20 minutes, until the tomatoes begin to burst just a bit and the string beans are a tinge brown. Remove and let cool.
Remove the kale from baking pan to a cutting board and slide your knife down the stem, removing the soft curly leaves, then cut in small pieces and add to a salad bowl. Lift the tomatoes, string beans and mint leaves from baking sheet and add to salad bowl. You can cut the tomatoes if you prefer over leaving them whole. Add the cut up cucumber to the salad and toss. Pour the remaining olive oil that is in your two baking pans left from the vegetables into a measuring cup. It should smell wonderful, infused with the flavors of the veggies and mint.
Minty Greek Yogurt Dressing
- Olive Oil from sheet pans that were used to roast kale, tomatoes and string beans. This should measure around 1/3 cup infused olive oil, add extra oil to equal 3/4 cups.
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
- 1 tsp. granulated garlic
- 1 cup fresh mint leaves
In a Cuisinart or using an immersion blender, combine all of the above ingredients, pulse until well blended. Taste for salt and pepper after you finish dressing. You may not want additional since you sprinkled both on the vegetables before baking.
You will notice from the pictures that I place the dressing on the plate for a single serving and topped with the roasted vegetables, then sprinkled feta around the plate and on top. This is great if you are having 6-10 guests. If it is a whole party, then toss the dressing with the vegetables and sprinkle with feta.
This is a wonderful, guilt free, crisp cool and delicious salad. The best part if you have a leftover salad that already has the dressing, don’t toss it! Don’t forget that your curly little kale will not wilt and you can serve it again the next day without fear! It won’t look like that sad little bowl of wilted salad that most of us put in the frig always hoping that somehow it will hold its shape and not become soggy! Yet, that never happens and you peek in the frig to see this wilted soggy resemblance of your crisp salad from the night before! Without thinking twice its into the old trash can and you never take a second look, lol!
Well hallelujah for Kale… the king of Crisp! Enjoy!