The Salad Experiment

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My friend Caroline has been raving about a kale salad that is suddenly popping up in several Nashville restaurants. (No, it’s not Nashville Hot Kale Salad – yet.) So we went out to one of those restaurants and had it for lunch. Our waitress said that she makes kale salad at home all the time and tossed out the basic key ingredients, but also confessed she hadn’t quite gotten a perfect “batch”.

That’s a challenge I couldn’t resist – plus it really was so yummy that I found myself craving just one more taste.

The real trick to this salad is chopping up the kale very finely. That requires a food processor (or very amazing knife skills), small batches, and diligence to make sure you aren’t making Kale juice. It’s not that difficult, just hit pulse a few times and make sure you have dried the kale thoroughly. The food processor does the work. After that, it’s all about adding and tasting – lots of tasting! 

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The kale I used was Tuscan Kale and it was a beautiful dark green. Instead of raisins and currents like the original dish had, I added raisins and dried cranberries – mostly because the colors were so pretty. I was planning to use slivered toasted almonds, but they had been consumed prior to my salad-making event by someone who will be in trouble once I figure out who it was. So pine nuts were the somewhat expensive substitute and of course we all know they are delicious and worked beautifully in the salad.

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 An important component that makes this salad something special is really good Parmesan cheese grated VERY finely. That’s easy enough. The last touches are the zest and juice of a lemon and a splash of olive oil, followed by a pinch of salt. Ok – can’t deny that was just so tasty, but it seemed like a secret ingredient could take everything over the top. Can you guess – just the smallest bit of honey was the Midas touch for the perfect Chopped Kale Salad.  

Full disclosure – I ate at least half of it before it hit the dinner table and after dinner, scraped the bowl for one last tiny bite. I can’t wait to make this again.

Chopped Kale Salad

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2 small bunches of fresh kale (or one large)

¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

1 lemon, zested and juiced

3 Tbsp olive oil (you can add more later if it seems dry)

¼ cup each raisins, and dried cranberries

¼ cup toasted nuts – pine nuts, almonds, slivered pistachios are all good choices

1 tsp honey

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Salt to taste


Wash and dry kale thoroughly and in 3 or 4 small batches finely chop in the food processor. (Pulsing makes it easy)

Add kale to a large salad bowl.

Stir in Parmesan cheese, lemon juice and zest, olive oil, raisins, cranberries, nuts, and honey.

Add about ¼ tsp of salt (cheese is salty)  taste until you like it – or until the bowl is empty!!! 

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