I don’t know about you guys, but when the summer temps start creeping up into the 90s, the last thing I want for lunch is a hot meal.
I find myself turning to salads a lot more, and sometimes even just a snack plate. Just a couple of days ago for lunch I had 2 rice cakes with peanut butter, some sharp cheddar cheese, and some homemade pickles. Weird combo? Yes, but snack-lunch is the best lunch!
But when I’m feeling a little bit more civilized and don’t want a random collection of snacks to make up my meal, I do enjoy a good, hearty salad as a meal option, for lunch or dinner. This latest creation was a huge hit, and was inspired by a Saturday trip to the farmer’s market here in town.
I came home with a huge bundle of kale, with absolutely no plans what to do with it, so it was time to get creative. I ended up deciding to make a massaged kale salad, but I knew I wanted to include some delicious grains in there to make it a little bit heartier, so that it could be a full meal instead of just a side dish if we wanted.
The first question you may be asking yourself is “what the heck are you doing massaging your kale?” But trust me, it helps this coarse, bitter green turn into a softer, sweeter version of itself in just 5 minutes of massaging. All you have to do is drizzle a little bit of olive oil, a dash of salt, and some lemon juice to really bring out those sweet notes in the kale, and get your hands in there. Massage it like you love it, and it will love you back. 😉
After about 5 minutes, my kale was softer, brighter, and ready for the rest of the salad. And this is where you get introduced to my creation:
Sweet and Savory Kale and Farro Salad
Forgive me for the lack of stellar food pictures — I am not usually patient enough to wait for the right lighting, nor do I have any kind of know-how when it comes to food photography. So please let the recipe speak for itself, and give this a try!
1 bunch of kale
3 cups cooked farro (more on this below)
3/4 C chopped cashews
3/4 C dried cranberries
3/4 C crumbled feta
And for the Lemon Vinaigrette: (Adapted from this vinaigrette recipe)
1/4 C Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 C Olive Oil
Juice from 1-1.5 lemons (start with one, add to taste)
1.5 tsp honey
With your kale already massaged (as described above with olive oil, salt, and lemon juice), place kale in a large mixing bowl and set aside. Prepare farro (I prepared about 1.5 C dry faro to produce the 3 C cooked grain). Add farro, cranberries, pecans, and feta to kale, stir to evenly distribute salad toppings. Mix together ingredients for vinaigrette, whisk or shake in a mason jar, and pour amount desired over salad. (I ended up using almost all of it because I made a massive salad). Serve immediately.
This dish is also great to make ahead if you are going to a potluck or preparing lunches for the week — many greens will not last once already dressed, but kale is hearty enough to stay structured for a few days in the fridge even with dressing already added. The flavors might have even been better the next day with this one — letting the farro soak up the other flavors made for a very tasty grain!
With this recipe, I ended up making a massive salad. It was enough to be had as a side dish (for 2) at two separate dinners, and lunch for 1 as well. And at one of those dinners, Will had seconds of the salad so it actually made 6+ servings! (I add the + because we had pretty large servings — can’t get enough kale, so with smaller serving sizes, it could feed a larger dinner party as a side no problem).
So now, why farro?
You might be asking yourself why I decided to use farro, the reason is quite simple. I wanted to add something to this salad that would make it hearty enough to be a meal on it’s own, and farro is a wonderfully hearty, nutritious ancient grain.
Not only does it have a wonderfully nutty flavor and provide a satisfying chewiness, but it is also packed with protein, B vitamins, and zinc. There are several different ways to prepare this grain, and it all depends on what type you have bought (whole, pearled, or semi-pearled).
I won’t go into all of those here, but if you do give farro a try (and I recommend you do!), a quick Google search will help you out. I used the “whole” variety, but you could use any for this salad.
Readers: Do you tend to eat more salads in the warmer months? Have you ever tried massaging your kale? Do you enjoy cooking with farro or other ancient grains?