Let me preface this post by saying that I am not a salad person.
I eat salads because they are a necessary evil of good health and proper nutrition. I eat salads because I know that they help me fit in my skinny jeans. And mainly… I eat salads because ordering a salad with a side of fries makes me feel a hell of a lot less guilty than ordering a burger with a side of fries.
Salads are the gateway to french fries in my world. Don’t judge.
After I had William, I wanted to lose my baby weight — fast. I think every woman does. The only problem was that there was a good deal of weight to lose, and in order to keep breastfeeding, I needed to do it slowly and healthfully.
That meant eating lots of balanced meals. Lots of protein, lots of fruit, and lots of vegetables. And unfortunately not vegetables of the french fry variety.
So.. that is where this salad came in. When William was about a month old, we were invited to dinner at a family friend’s house, and our hostess made something similar to this salad. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Maybe it’s the fact that with the croutons it tastes kind of, sort of, like garlic bread… or maybe it’s the fact that it is covered in cheese… or maybe it’s the fact that it’s easy as hell to throw together. Or maybe….just maybe…. it’s the fact that kale tastes really freaking good like this. I don’t know.
Whatever the reason, my husband and I went home and set out to recreate our own version of that initial salad, and in the process we have become obsessed. My husband actually asks that I make this for dinner, and we end up eating it – in some variation – at least two nights a week.
You will notice that the measurements in the ingredients below are kind of loosey – goosey. However, as you make this salad more and more, you will realize that it isn’t really a salad that needs anything too precise to taste amazing.
In my opinion, those are the best kind of recipes.
If you just use the best ingredients, everything will fall into place. <<< Ina Garten taught me that. I always used to laugh at her cookbooks because every recipe specifies that you use “very good olive oil”… or “very fresh produce”. Over the years I have learned that Ina always knows best, and truthfully using quality olive oil really does make all the difference. At our house, for salads, we usually use an olive oil that my mom brought me back from Israel. But when a girlfriend of mine recently introduced me to Pasolivo Olive Oils, I happily made the switch. Check them out here. Not only are the oils absolutely delicious, but the packaging is incredible. I am obsessed with the retro look of the cans, and I love leaving them out as functional kitchen decor. The California Blend is perfect for dipping, and ideal for salads. I also love the Rosemary infused varietal for making my croutons.
Also – feel free to top this salad with whatever protein you choose. We usually opt for poached eggs for simplicity, but grilled chicken and baked salmon are also fantastic.
Nutrition note: This salad makes about 3-4 decent sized portions and I estimate it’s less than 250 calories a serving (before you add whatever protein you choose). Thus – it is the perfect dinner if you’re looking for a delicious, low calorie, and healthy dinner option. Enjoy loves!
You waistline will thank you… trust me.
Emily’s Favorite Lemon Garlic Kale Salad
– 1 container of pre-washed kale – you can cut up your own, but for ease, I always use a pre-washed container
– The juice of 2-4 lemons
– 1 cup of very good olive oil (we love Pasolivo California Blend)
– 4-6 large garlic cloves crushed (I use the flat side of a meat tenderizer to do this)
– Half of a good french baguette – cubed (we use the remaining half to eat with the salad)
– 1 cup of good Parmesan – freshly grated
– Eggs (for poaching – or whatever kind of protein you choose)
– Salt – to taste
– Red pepper flakes – to taste
– A dash of orange juice or honey – if you want some additional sweetness
– Place the kale in a large salad bowl
– In a small mixing bowl, combine the lemon juice, smashed garlic, teaspoon of salt, and very good olive oil. Mix thouroughly.
– Pour dressing over the kale, toss and let sit for at least 20 minutes.
– In the meantime cut half of the baguette into small cubes. Toss with olive oil and salt, and bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. After 10 minutes check the croutons, toss gently with a spatula, and bake for the remaining five minutes or until golden brown. Let cool.
– Add croutons and the freshly grated cheese to the dressed kale.
– Plate and top with your choice of protein.
Enjoy over and over again!