Kale Salad with Craisins and Blue Cheese

kale salad

There is the cutest little sandwich shop in Downtown Blue Ridge, Georgia, where my parents live, called The Blue Ridge Grocery, where we have stopped to eat the past few times we have been in town.  They have the most delicious sandwiches (their classic Reuben and Smoked Salmon BLT are my faves), coffees, and baked goods, but they have a kale salad that I had last time we were there that has me hooked.

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Reuben and Kale Salad from The Blue Ridge Grocery

I am not a huge kale fan, and have really never experimented with it other than batches upon batches of roasted kale chips (which I actually do really like).  And especially not raw.  But after eating it at The Grocery, in a very simple salad, I knew I wanted to try to recreate it at home to eat as a simple side dish and a change from our old stand-bys for dinner each week.  So, I tried it out and again, am totally hooked!!  You can make a little bit to eat as a side dish to roasted chicken or a steak for dinner, or, if you’re like me, make a big portion to eat for lunch!  I like a lot of variety in my meals, and rarely eat something two days in a row.  But I made this salad for myself 4 days in a row last week because it’s just that good.  So I wanted to share with you my adapted Kale Salad recipe with Craisins and Blue Cheese.  It’s a little different from The Grocery’s version, but (I think) even better!  But Shhhh…don’t tell the sweet employees of The Grocery I said so!

And first, let me just say that I am not big on true measure-it-out-by-the-teaspoon recipes (probably why I am a better cook than baker!), so I will not be giving precise measurements.  Just use your best judgement and taste, and add the ingredients to your liking!  Also, this is not a recipe for one salad.  If you buy a container/box/bag of each of the ingredients, it will last you quite some time, and you’ll have plenty of items on hand to throw your salad together anytime you have a craving for it!

Kale Salad with Craisins and Blue Cheese

1 Bag of Fresh Chopped Kale from the produce section (You can buy it in bunches, but it saves you a step to just buy it pre-washed and pre-chopped in the bag)

8 ounce container of blue cheese (The Grocery actually uses sharp white grated cheddar cheese, which is really good too, I just love blue cheese)

Craisins (I use the reduced sugar variety)

Sliced/Slivered/Raw/Candied Almonds (I use raw almonds and roughly chop them up.  The Grocery uses sliced almonds and candied/sugared walnuts which are really good too.  Pecans would work too, candied or raw)

Balsamic Vinaigrette (The Grocery does a simple oil and vinegar dressing, but I had some Kraft Balsamic Vinaigrette at home that I used and loved it!  It’s a little sweet which I really liked.  You can use a pre-made dressing, a homemade dressing, or simple olive oil and a splash of balsamic or red wine vinegar)

 So, take a big bowl/plate/platter, and pile on the kale.  I like to go ahead and add some dressing now, to mix in the greens, so the vinegar in the dressing begins to break it down and tenderize the kale a bit.  Add just a tablespoon or so at a time and mix, until the greens are just barely wet with the dressing.  You don’t want to add too much too fast, because you can always add more later.  Once the kale is just barely coated with the dressing, add a handful (or more or less) of blue cheese over the top, and then top, to your liking, with craisins and almonds.  I do pretty much equal parts blue cheese, craisins, and almonds (about a handful of each?).  And that’s it!  It’s so simple, so quick to throw together, and seriously, so good.  You can add more dressing depending on how much you want, or even pour some in a small bowl, and dip the salad in the dressing with each bite.  But I do like to mix it with the kale at the beginning, so the greens are tenderized a bit, and some of the bitterness is eliminated.  It also helps for the rest of the toppings to stick to the kale a little bit better.  But that’s it!  A simple salad that’s hearty and filling enough for lunch, and can also be eaten as a salad course or side dish with dinner.  And by the way, this salad is SO healthy!!  The kale is full of fiber and calcium, the almonds, cheese, and olive oil in the dressing offer some healthy fats, and the craisins, well, maybe they’re not that great, but they add some sweetness and sure are good. 🙂

I hope you’ll try this out, and please let me know what you think!

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