"What can I bring?" --Erin.
"A salad." --Everybody, all the time.
It's most likely due to the fact that I was a vegetarian for 20 years. Or the fact that I'm pretty particular about what I eat. Or that I've got food sensitivities and no one knows what to feed me. Or maybe people really just need someone to bring a salad.
At any rate, I'm usually asked to bring a salad to any type of potluck, social gathering or holiday meal.
The easy answer is the classic fail-proof mixed greens, goat cheese, candied nuts and fruit (pear/apples/berries) with a fruit-based balsamic. Everyone loves this one, myself included. It's a safe bet.
...It's also kind of a dessert salad. Sure, we've got the greens. But they're smothered in cheese and topped with sweet stuff. Sometimes I'm looking for a little more nutrient density out of my salad - particularly when surrounded by sweet treats and temptations, as is the norm for this time of year.
Enter this spin on the kale salad. It's pretty, it's festive, it's nutrient dense, it's relatively easy to throw together, (and you can do so ahead of time as long as you save the avocado for serving), and it's something different.
Make it for a light Thanksgiving side, or bring it to your next holiday potluck!
Winter Pomegranate Kale Salad
1 head kale
1/4 cup olive oil
2 T lemon juice (juice from 1/2 large lemon)
2 T coconut aminos (you can use Bragg's aminos or tamari instead, but you may need to adjust amount)
1/4 tsp coarse ground sea salt
1/2 tsp organic onion powder
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (can sub in parsley if you can't stand cilantro! Or do a combo of both)
Seeds from 1 pomegranate*
1 large steamed beet, cubed**
1 avocado, cubed***
Start by de-stemming the kale. Grab the stalk of a kale leaf and, using the opposite hand, remove the leaf from the stalk by running it along the length of stalk. Do this with the whole head. Set aside stalks for juicer or compost. Then chop up leaves into very small pieces and transfer into a large bowl.
Pour the olive oil, lemon juice, coconut aminos and sea salt over the kale. Using both hands, massage the condiments into the kale leaves for about 2 minutes. DON'T SKIP THIS STEP! Massaging the kale helps to soften it up and make it more palatable.
Next up: sprinkle in onion powder and toss to combine. Toss in chopped herbs, pomegranate seeds, and chopped beet. At this point, you can store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a day or two. If you're making this to bring somewhere or to serve at party, this is a great way to reduce prep time the day of. The flavors meld together as the salad sits. Toss in avocado immediately before serving (I like to hit the avocado chunks with some lemon juice before adding to salad, so they don't brown upon serving).
*If you shy away from buying pomegranates because getting the seeds out is such a hass, you gotta get over that! This short video gives a couple ideas how to do it quickly and effectively. I usually cut the fruit in half, then break it all apart in a large bowl filled with water. Doing it under water keeps from getting bright red juice everywhere. The seeds drop to the bottom and the pith rises to the top.
**You can steam the beet yourself (peel, quarter, drop in steaming basket for about 15 minutes) or buy precooked beets. I've seen organic Love Beets in most markets. Trader Joe's sells their own cooked beets as well.
***I've found it better not to use a very ripe avocado here. It makes for a prettier salad when you use firm cubes.