Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Kale and Dates Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Today I would like to share with you my newest love-affair... KALE! Kale has so many nutritious benefits, it is super hearty and really delicious. I pack a salad for lunch most days, and previously used regular green leaf lettuce or spinach.  I would always find that my lettuce would wilt by the time lunch rolls around, due to the dressing or the toppings.  I even tried packing the dressing separate, but to no avail my salad would lack the freshness and crispness I desired. 

Then I was introduced to kale, and my lunch-life has changed. You can add dressing to kale in the morning and by the time lunch rolls around, your greens are just as crisp as it was 5 hours ago!

Kale is bitter so I try to always add a bit of sweetness in the form of a dried fruit- I used dates today. I also add beans and nuts for a crunch and protein.  Lastly I added tomatoes, red onion and shaved Parmesan cheese. 

Easy homemade balsamic vinaigrette!

Pass on the grocery store, preservative-packed salad dressing and create make your own! This simple recipe is super flexible and the basic ingredients are in any household- oil, vinegar, mustard, salt & pepper.

There is this fantastic shop near my house that has specialty oil and vinegar in all sorts of flavors- Old Town Oil, Chicago. I am currently using their 18 year aged balsamic vinegar. But any vinegar you have in the house will work great- Champagne vinegar, apple cider vinegar, ect. 

Other simple vinaigrette recipes will call for 2x the amount of oil to vinegar, however I love the taste of vinegar and therefore use the same ratio of oil to vinegar, plus it keeps the dressing healthier by adding less oil.

2 tbs vinegar
2 tbs oil
1 tsp mustard- I use dijon
Garlic powder, salt & pepper to taste

Combine mustard, vinegar and spices in a small bowl. Then slowly drizzle oil into mixture and wisk until  the oil is completely combined into the vinegar.

When preparing kale, be sure to cut out the tough ribs

Hope you enjoy this brown-bag special! Let me know how you like it!