Tuscan Kale Salad

Packed with fall flavor, this Tuscan Kale Salad combines finely cut kale, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, Parmesan and a homemade vinaigrette.  Packed with fall flavor, this Tuscan Kale Salad combines finely cut kale, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, Parmesan and a homemade vinaigrette. 

Kale is a great fall-into-winter green. Hardy and nutritious, it has survived all the way to Christmas in my Wisconsin garden. Alas it can be a challenge to prepare—unless you have a great recipe like this Tuscan Kale Salad! 

Yes, over the years I had my issues with this hardy super-food, even writing that kale was more suited for fall ornamental gardening than dinner!  But today’s recipe is the one that officially won me over–back in September 2015. And since I’ve been making it like crazy this fall, it was time for an update!  Packed with fall flavor, this Tuscan Kale Salad combines finely cut kale, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, Parmesan and a homemade vinaigrette. 

The recipe came to me from our local co-op’s newsletter by way of my sister. The secret is adding lost of extra flavor in the toppings and julienning the kale so it isn’t tough as leather

Sorry, couldn’t resist a final dig.

What Makes This a Winner

  • Rich & Flavorful With a homemade vinaigrette, sun-dried tomatoes, Parmesan and pine nuts, this salad is packed with flavor!
  • Tenderized Kale The kale in this salad is julienned. The long thin pieces are both tender and “fluffy” making it perfect for a salad.
  • Nutrition powerhouse According to Healthine, kale is “among the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet.” The Parmesan cheese punches up your calcium intake and the carrots and sun-dried tomatoes add nutrition as well. 

Packed with fall flavor, this Tuscan Kale Salad combines finely cut kale, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, Parmesan and a homemade vinaigrette. 

Step by Step Directions

The salad comes together quickly.  First you whisk together the dressing ingredients.  make dressing

Remove stems from kale and cut into thin julienne strips. chop kale

Toss kale with the dressing. mix kale with dressing

Shred the carrot and cheese if needed.cut veggies

Artistically top kale with the other salad ingredients!  assemble salad

Kale Types and Selection

There are many types of kale but the two that you see most commonly are curly kale and lacinato kale. If you want to use it as a garnish, the curly kale with its wavy, fluted leaves is the way to go. Although it’s slightly tougher than the lacinata kale, curly kale can readily be coaxed into submission and I’d use it for any of my kale recipes.  curly kale

Lacinato kale has moister, flatter leaves and is a favorite for fresh eating since it can be more tender. But it’s still a sturdy vegetable and requires the same special treatment to tenderize.  lacinato kale

When you select kale, look for leaves that are uniformly green and firm. As kale ages, it tends to get pale or yellow and, if it loses moisture, it will be limp or wrinkled. I like to get kale locally whenever possible, for freshness and to support my local farmer.

If your kale is very fresh and kept refrigerated, it may last a week or more, though I find this can vary (and fresh is best). But if you get a weekly CSA box or visit the famers market once a week, eat your spring greens first and your kale later!  kale in greenhouse

Kale Nutrition

Per Healthline, a single, 33 calorie, cup of kale contains 206% of your vitamin A (as beta-carotene), 684% of vitamin K, 134 % of vitamin C, 26% of manganese as well as B6, calcium, copper, potassium, magnesium and more.

Besides vitamins and minerals, kale contains multiple types of antioxidants (different antioxidants have different benefits so a variety is better) like Quercetin, Kaempferol, Lutein and Zeaxanthin which can have benefits for eye health, heart health and more. For detailed info (and extensive original sources), see the Healthline article.  Packed with fall flavor, this Tuscan Kale Salad combines finely cut kale, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, Parmesan and a homemade vinaigrette. 

Taking Kale from Tough to Fabulous

Kale is a super-healthy vegetable but it (and other non-lettuce greens) can be a challenge to prepare. So much so that one of my CSAs even took them out of the boxes and started a separate “greens share!”

Cooking with kale can be easier since you have heat and added moisture to help make it tender. But the key to eating it raw is cutting it into small pieces. To do this I remove and compost the tough stems, then cut the leaving using one of two methods, depending on the dish.

For a dish that isn’t “fluffy” I will often put it through the food processor (despite online admonitions not to). Especially if you need larger quantities, this is the quickest way to go.  The texture suffers just slightly, which doesn’t matter a bit in a dish like my Kale Brussels Sprout Salad, which has a rich dressing and a heavier feel.  Packed with fall flavor, this Tuscan Kale Salad combines finely cut kale, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, Parmesan and a homemade vinaigrette. 

When I need a lighter result like in this salad, I julienne by hand which is actually pretty quick. I stack up a few leaves, roll them up, then slice thinly from one end of the roll to the other. For bigger leaves, I sometimes cut the roll in half lengthwise first which makes for small pieces. It’s the same method I‘ve used to julienne larger basil leaves for years.  

And it’s made a kale lover out of a skeptic!

Tuscan Kale Salad

Tuscan Kale Salad

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Packed with fall flavor, this Tuscan Kale Salad combines finely cut kale, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, Parmesan and a homemade vinaigrette. 

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4-5 cups of julienned kale (about 1 large bunch)
  • ½ cup shredded carrots
  • ½ cup sundried tomatoes, thinly sliced (see note)
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese, or flavorful vegan cheese

Instructions

  1. Prepare dressing by whisking together balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.
  2. Remove stems from kale and cut into thin julienne strips. Toss with the dressing.
  3. Top kale with remaining ingredients (artistically—or toss together if desired)

Notes

You can use home dried tomatoes. Just soften them by letting them soak in very hot water and slice into bite-sized pieces.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 296Unsaturated Fat: 0g

36 thoughts on “Tuscan Kale Salad

  1. Pingback: Tuscan Kale Salad : The Christmas Blog

  2. grace

    i feel slightly ashamed that i hate kale, but it just doesn’t do it for me. i haven’t tried it julienned and dressed so nicely, so i suppose that’s worth a try before i cross it off completely!

    1. Inger Post author

      I completely understand Grace. It took me 20 years to find enough things to do with it. Now on to Swiss Chard!

  3. David

    This salad looks really hearty and perfect for a summer day… and am autumn day! I, too, make a kale salad, with a dressing that starts with my sun-dried tomato and kalamata tapenade. I also love kale chips.

  4. Louise

    Hi Inger,
    So sorry I haven’t been over to visit your delicious healthy blog. Looks like Kale is on the menu today, lol…Not a favorite of mine for such a long time but am getting use to it. When I was a kid, kale was on our menu quite often. My father use to make it with beans! I’ve never tried it julienned but it makes so much sense when I think about it. My father use to cook it in olive oil and garlic and then add the beans and simmer it. We didn’t like it as kids unless he added bacon fat, lol!!! Now, I wish I had a bowl to warm up this chilly rainy
    day in PA.

    Your salad looks lovely. I wouldn’t mind it either!!!

    Thanks so much for sharing, Inger…Hope to be back to blogging real soon…

      1. Inger Post author

        My grandmother used to make a kale soup recipe that my mother raves about, but the recipe has, alas, been lost. I’d eat almost anything with bacon fat, but do try to watch my intake! Thanks for the link–now that is a healthy recipe! Glad to see you back “around” Louise. Enjoy your upcoming vacation!

  5. Kathy

    Hi Inger, This salad looks wonderfully delicious! My kale plants are doing great, and I’m always looking for another way to use them. Love that you used pine nuts on top!

    I want to apologize for not visiting more often…I will be having surgery next week and have been slightly distracted. Thanks for all your visits and support!

    1. Inger Post author

      You have certainly been doing a great job of cooking and blogging despite the upcoming surgery–I am impressed! Good luck with the surgery and a quick recovery Kathy.

  6. Beth

    Kale works for me when it’s cooked, but I must admit that I haven’t taken to it raw yet. Glad you found a way to like it!

  7. Tammy

    I, on the other hand, love kale. I’ve been using it for years and remember the grocer once telling me, “lady, nobody eats kale”. That’s when it was used for decorating the produce section. Great looking salad.

    1. Inger Post author

      Yes, I remember the kale as garnish days well–you were clearly ahead of your time Tammy! But now I am even trying to eat my radish greens 😉

  8. Juliana

    Beautiful kale salad Inger…somehow I just made kale salad a couple of times, as I usually add kale to my smoothie…this salad would be a great meal for me…thanks for the inspiration!
    Hope you are enjoying your week 🙂

    1. Inger Post author

      Thanks Juliana. You know I should try adding vegetables to smoothies more often–so thank you for the inspiration as well!

  9. Pingback: Fall Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad - Art of Natural Living

    1. Inger Post author

      As I mentioned, it took me years too like kale too! But this one’s a game changer!

  10. Julie Menghini

    What a beautiful salad! I appreciated all of the information on Kale. I’ll be trying the different varieties. Pine nuts are one of my favorites and fit perfectly with these ingredients.

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