Hanukkah is all about fried foods… latkes, sufganiyot, keftes, birmuelos. While frying is a symbolic way to celebrate the holiday, it’s also a surefire way to pack on the pounds (and, in my case, can lead to a major grease-induced tummy ache). To offset all of that fried, fatty holiday goodness, I created this festive kale salad for the holiday. Kale packs a major nutritional punch. I used to detest the stuff, but after I discovered the kale massage, it quickly became my favorite leafy green. Massaging removes the natural bitterness of the kale, making it a more neutral base for your favorite salad toppings. I’m now a big fan of kale, and it never tasted better than in this wintery root vegetable salad!
To start, I roasted a few beets— a combination of red and golden, to make the salad more colorful. If you’ve never tried roasting beets, you must, it brings out their natural juicy sweetness. To learn how, click here. Next, I candied whole pecans on the stovetop using maple syrup and a touch of cayenne for heat. I whipped up a simple salad dressing– olive oil, rich balsamic vinegar, real maple syrup (not the imitation pancake stuff!), and lemon juice for brightness. Finally, I sprinkled the whole salad with crumbled feta, which offset the sweetness of the salad with a lovely salty touch. If you prefer the tang of goat cheese, that would also be lovely. And if you’d rather keep this salad dairy-free, not to worry– it will taste great without the cheese, too.
This Kale and Roasted Beet Salad with Maple Balsamic Dressing will make a colorful and flavorful addition to your holiday table. Of course, it’ll also help to mitigate some of the latke-induced calorie guilt! It’s full of vitamins and nutrients, but it doesn’t taste like health food. If you’re anti-kale, like I used to be, feel free to use fresh spinach or your favorite dark salad greens– just skip the massage/wilting step in the recipe. My favorite part is the hint of maple and balsamic flavors in every bite… so seasonal, just perfect for winter. Enjoy!
Kale and Roasted Beet Salad with Maple Balsamic Dressing
- 5-6 small roasted beets (red and/or golden)
- 1/2 cup pecans
- 1/3 cup real maple syrup, divided
- Dash cayenne
- 1 bunch curly kale
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (good quality)
- 1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta or goat cheese (optional - omit to keep vegan/pareve)
- For instructions on how to roast beets, click here. Peel your roasted beets, then slice them into wedges. Set aside.
- Place the pecans in a small skillet and toast over medium heat for 4-5 minutes till fragrant.
- Pour 1/4 cup maple syrup over the pecans and bring to a boil over medium. Sprinkle the pecans evenly with a dash of cayenne. Let the syrup boil for 1-2 minutes over medium, stirring frequently. till most of the liquid evaporates.
- Pour the pecans immediately onto a piece of parchment or wax paper. Spread them out with a spoon into a single layer. Let them cool and dry out.
- Meanwhile, clean your kale, pat dry, and cut the leaves from the tough stalks. Discard stalks. Cut the leaves into small pieces and place in a salad bowl. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt. Massage the kale with clean hands for 2-3 minutes till it wilts and loses its bitter flavor.
- In a small bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp maple syrup, and lemon juice. Whisking briskly and constantly, drizzle the olive oil very slowly into the mixture till the dressing is emulsified and thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the roasted beet wedges and crumbled feta or goat cheese to the salad.
- Break apart the candied pecans into small pieces.
- Sprinkle the pecans over the top of the salad.
- Serve each portion of salad drizzled with a bit of dressing (about 1 tbsp per serving).
- Note: This salad does not keep well when assembled. If you plan on eating it and saving leftovers, store the elements separately-- beets in one container, candied pecans in another, cheese in another, and the kale in a sealed plastic bag. Assemble ingredients for each portion of salad, and make the dressing fresh before serving. If you store the salad assembled, the pecans will get soggy and the kale will become limp-- best to store the elements separately and make it fresh.
Other Great Recipe Ideas
Cookin’ Canuck: Gorgonzola Cheese Cups with Pear & Hazelnut Green Salad Recipe
La Fuji Mama: Daikon, Carrot, Persimmon, and Pomegranate Sunomono
Recipe Girl: Beet and Goat Cheese Arugula Salad
A Spicy Perspective: Fennel Salad with Roasted Beets and Shaved Asparagus