As the temperature plummets, we continue to crave warm, comforting foods, which tend to be hearty and heavy. But eventually the system rebels and screams for a salad.
Alas, baby spring greens and juicy tomatoes are months away, but the bod wants what the bod wants. The ingredients in this salad are considered winter produce, so they fit the season well.
Kale lingers late into the harvest season and is said to improve its flavor after a frost or two, and Bosc pears are a late autumn/early winter fruit. Because they are firmer than other pears, Boscs retain their taste and texture well and can be stored for a period of time after the harvest.
This salad blends a bunch of different flavors — the bitterness of kale with the sweetness of pears, the zing of the red onions and the mellowness of pecans all fuse to create an interesting and diverse dish. It can be a light meal on its own, or a side for just about any basic main dish.
A word on the kale: The full-grown head of a leafy green kale can be quite tough. Removing the stem, chopping it finely and “massaging” it by hand while blending it with lemon juice and olive oil can tenderize it pretty effectively.
But many people (myself included) think that is an awful lot of trouble. And my husband is not a big fan of this preparation, even with the TLC. The first time I made it, he gnawed on the leaves and said, “This could use some steam.” So I often cheat and purchase packaged baby kale, which is still a winter green but much easier to use and far more tender. Cook’s discretion.
Serves two as a main dish or four as a side
- 1 package baby kale or 1 head kale, stems removed, chopped finely, and massaged with juice of 1 lemon and ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 ripe Bosc pear, cut in bite sized pieces
- ⅓ cup pecan halves
- ¼ cup chopped red onion
- 1 carrot, grated
- Optional: ¼ cup crumbled or grated cheese (feta, blue, goat or Parmesan)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Generous dash fresh grown pepper
- Sprinkle of garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
In a large salad bowl, place the kale, pears, pecans, carrot, onion and cheese, if using.
Sprinkle the salt, pepper, garlic powder, vinegar and oil over the salad.
Toss well and serve immediately.