Call me crazy but I’m one of those people who likes their spaghetti sauce ladled on top of their pasta. I know I’m probably in the minority on this, but I just prefer to stir it up myself, thankyouverymuch!
Ben’s a mix it up in the pot kinda guy, and thinks my way is absolutely nuts, so spaghetti night at our house can be kind of an ordeal. First I have to take my share of un-sauced pasta, always wanting more than I should but refraining because then it appears there’s not a lot left in there for him. Then I ladle sauce on top, take some garlic bread (GOT to have garlic bread!) and go sit down. And wait.
And wait and wait and wait.
Meanwhile Ben’s still at the pot scooping one spoonful of sauce after another into the remaining pasta until he’s achieved the ideal pasta-to-sauce ratio. By the time he’s made it to the table my garlic bread’s long gone and now I want some of his. Heaven forbid he’s left some pasta back in the pot because now what’s to become of it?! He doesn’t like leftover sauced pasta and, as I’ve just covered, I don’t like pre-sauced pasta.
Told you. Chaos!
All is not lost, however. One dish I am totally on board with throwing together then tossing like a tornado before chowing is chopped salads like the Kale Chopped Salad with Maple-Almond Vinaigrette I made for a stellar lunch yesterday!
Fresh lacinato kale, shaved brussels sprouts, fried shallots, dried cranberries, crumbled bacon, sliced almonds, and parmesan cheese are all chopped into bite-sized pieces then toss, toss, tossed with a luscious, homemade maple-almond vinaigrette. Since each ingredient is the roughly the same size, each bite of this salad is PACKED with delicious flavor!!
I had a version of this salad last weekend at The Westside Local (can you tell how much I loved that place?!) and knew after finishing my last bite that it wouldn’t be my last. While The Westside chopped all the toppings together in almost a chicken salad-type fashion, dolloping it on top of torn kale, I mixed everything together including the kale chop-salad style, which I loved even more. This salad takes a little bit of effort to make but it is so, so fabulous!
Start by making the Maple-Almond Vinaigrette. The Westside Local served their salad with a maple-tahini vinaigrette, but I didn’t have tahini on hand and didn’t want to buy a whole jar just for this dressing. Almond butter was a perfect sub!
In a small bowl whisk together 1 Tablespoon real maple syrup, 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, and 2 Tablespoons almond butter.
My almond butter was from a new jar so it was super drippy and smooth, but if yours is cold, zap the vinaigrette in the microwave for 15-20 seconds to help get it started. Once it’s all mixed up, stash the vinaigrette in the fridge while you get chop-happy with the rest of the ingredients.
Begin with 4 strips bacon (unpictured.) Cook then crumble however you see fit. I usually lay mine on a nonstick-sprayed cooling rack set atop a foil-lined baking sheet then pop into a cold oven, set the temp to 400 degrees, and then bake for 15-17 minutes flipping halfway through.
Meanwhile, get some shallots ready for some shallow fryin’. Peel then slice 2 large shallots into thin rings and separate.
Heat 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat (I’d say a 6 out of 10 on the heat scale) then add half the shallots and fry until golden brown. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain then continue with remaining shallots. Give ’em all a light sprinkle of salt then set aside.
Next shave some brussels sprouts! I thought the idea of adding shaved brussels sprouts into this salad was just brilliant on The Westside’s part. Shaved brussels provide an awesome crunch, and signature flavor. Loved ’em in here!
First trim the ends off 2 cups brussels sprouts then remove any outer leaves that fall away. Next, starting at the green end, very thinly slice the sprouts until you reach the hard white core end. The thinner –> the better. If you have a mandolin that’d work great.
Separate the shreds then place them into a big bowl.
Pull out any of the tough white core pieces and discard.
Now turn your attention to the kale. This is lacinato kale, which I have not used before and am now madly in love with. It’s not as tough to eat as curly kale (no face-whipping pieces) and more tender, in my opinion. I had this type of kale in another salad I had up in Kansas City, and liked it a ton.
Strip the kale from the tough rib in the center then chop into small, bite-sized pieces and add to the bowl.
Next add all the goodies! 1/4 cup sliced almonds and 1/4 cup dried cranberries (1/2 chopped apple in place of the dried cranberries would be divine in here.)
1/4 cup fresh-grated parmesan cheese and the cooked –> crumbled bacon.
Finally add the fried shallots on top.
Drizzle in some of the Maple-Almond Vinaigrette then toss to combine, and enjoy!
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Kale Chopped Salad with Maple-Almond Vinaigrette
Kale Chopped Salad with Maple-Almond Vinaigrette is mind-blowingly delicious!
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
- 2 cups Brussels sprouts
- 4 cups lacinato kale, ribs removed and finely chopped (about 1 bunch)
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- 1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries or 1/2 chopped fresh apple
- 4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
- For the Maple-Almond Vinaigrette:
- 2 Tablespoons creamy almond butter (or tahini)
- 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon real maple syrup
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- For the Maple-Almond Vinaigrette: Whisk together almond butter (or tahini,) balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, and olive oil in a small bowl. Microwave for 15-20 seconds to help get almond butter smooth, if necessary. Set aside in the refrigerator.
- Heat olive oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat (6 out of 10.) Add half the shallots then fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain then repeat with remaining shallots. Sprinkle with salt then set aside.
- Trim ends off Brussels sprouts then remove outer leaves. Shave sprouts very thinly on a mandolin or slice very thinly with a knife, starting at the green end and stopping just before reaching the white, hard end. The thinner the better. Toss to separate shreds then remove any big pieces of tough white core.
- Combine shaved sprouts in a large bowl with kale, almonds, parmesan cheese, dried cranberries (or apples,) crumbled bacon, and fried shallots then toss with Maple-Almond Vinaigrette and serve.
This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.
Ok, forget smoked gouda – this salad is ma jam! I wouldn’t skip a single ingredient in here, as you can pick out each and every flavor. Surprisingly the fried shallots were my favorite part. They get kind of sweet and caramelized and are fantastic with the smokey bacon, sweet dried cranberries, and crunchy, slightly-bitter brussels sprouts. Like I said, this salad is a stunner!