Flowering Kale Caesar Salad Recipe

by Amber on January 19, 2012

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Introducing: the world’s prettiest vegetable! Flowering kale. Traditionally used as an ornamental landscaping plant, this lovely lady is fit for your kitchen table, too.

Flowering kale, once considered an ornamental landscape plant for the garden, is edible!

Flowering kale packs the same healthy punch as other forms of kale, weighing in as the plant with the most nutrition per calorie. Best not to restrict this super food to life as eye candy—cut it out of your lawn and add it to your dinner table!

I spotted this beauty at my local supermarket, sitting under a sign that said, “Local harvest.” Sold!

Now, what to do with something so pretty? The vibrant purple hue called to be eaten fresh—added to my plate in a blaze of color. This time last year, an old friend of mine made me an outstanding birthday dinner that included a kale Caesar salad recipe inspired by the Tartine Bread cookbook. That’s exactly what I decided to do.

Homemade Caesar salad dressing dances in garlic and lemon inside your mouth in such a fresh beat. If you’ve never tried making it, I implore you to do so. You’ll wonder why you didn’t start sooner!

Topped with homemade croutons bathed in olive oil and freshly crushed black pepper, this salad serves to comfort while awakening your taste buds from the winter doldrums.

A few tips for the best salad experience:

1)      Squeeze the juice from half a lemon over your cut kale leaves and allow to stand for 10-15 minutes before adding the Caesar dressing. It will soften the leaves, making them easier to chew.

2)      Add homemade croutons to the salad, warm from the oven. In the middle of winter, the warm bread adds a hearty, comforting touch.

Flowering Kale Caesar Salad recipe

Flowering Kale Caesar Salad Recipe
3 cups flowering kale leaves, cut into thin strips
Juice from half a lemon
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Homemade Croutons
2 cups day old whole grain bread, cut into 1 ½-inch cubes
¼ cup olive oil
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
Salt & pepper to taste

Caesar Salad Dressing Recipe
2 organic egg yolks
Juice from one lemon
2 Tablespoons brown mustard (I use Boetje’s)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 anchovy
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup olive oil

Farmers’ Marketing Fare: kale, lemon, bread, olive oil, eggs, garlic
Supermarket Ingredients:  cheese, spices, mustard, anchovies

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Cut kale into strips and place in a large bowl. Squeeze the juice from half a lemon onto the kale and mix. Set aside to rest.

Next, make the croutons by slicing bread into 1 ½-inch cubes. Set them in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Toss to coat the bread. Place the bread cubes on a baking sheet in the oven and toast for 10-12 minutes, or until golden and firm.

Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, lemon juice, brown mustard, garlic, anchovy, and black pepper. Whisk until well combined. Continue whisking as you slowly pour in the olive oil. Whisk until completely combined.

For every 3 cups of kale leaves you have, add about 4 to 6 Tablespoons of Caesar dressing and toss. Top with ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese and 1 cup of the warm croutons. Serve.

Yield: 2 large salads, plus leftover dressing and croutons.

Looking for more ways to use kale? 

Daily Unadventures in Cooking makes creamed kale.

Eat Well, Live Free creates a dish with herbed polenta, greens, and beans.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

The Rowdy Chowgirl January 19, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Love that glowing purple! Does this kale taste very different from the dull ordinary kind?

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admin January 20, 2012 at 8:30 am

Rowdy Chowgirl–I actually liked eating this type of kale more than some others. It’s firmer. I didn’t stir-fry it, but I think it would stand up quite well if cooked that way. It reminds me a little of cabbage (and is from the cabbage family). Hey–maybe you can make kraut with it??

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Jillena January 19, 2012 at 11:02 pm

Amazing veggie! Thank you for inspiring me to get back to the farmers market. This kale is stunning!

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admin January 20, 2012 at 8:25 am

Jillena, Shockingly, I found this flowering kale at Safeway. I was surprised, because I haven’t seen it at the markets. I hope we start seeing more of it. I actually preferred eating this variety to some other kinds of kale I’ve tried. The leaves are quite firm, so they don’t wilt as quickly.

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Melissa Vanni January 24, 2012 at 6:18 pm

Beautiful! I bet the kiddos would love it too!

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admin January 24, 2012 at 6:28 pm

Thanks, Melissa! I bet they would. They’d probably enjoy helping make the dressing–whisking eggs is always fun.

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