fat free opinions on a food centric life

Kale and Apple Salad with Bacon and Pecans

I go to the farmers’ market armed with a single bag theory thinking I will surely be limited to a reasonable number of purchases, yet fail every time.  I’ve become pretty good at packing that bag which seems manageable while I’m filling it.  A few bundles of greens can’t take up all that much space, right?

But then the rainbow carrots look so good, and I can’t pass up a gorgeous head of romanesco cauliflower.  Or is it broccoli?  A mixture of sprouts, some chard, and baby beets end up in the bag before I’m done and once home I wonder where to begin.  There certainly isn’t enough room in my fridge for it all.

The carrots and beets will be fine for a while, and the sprouts will go easily into so many things:  my smoothies, salad, omelets, an open-faced egg salad sandwich.

But the kale.  Oh, the kale.  I couldn’t resist buying three different kinds.

I know.

But there’s a method to my madness with kale.  It’s easy to think “salad” first, because the kale is fresh.  But did you know you can freeze kale?  And guess what?  It’s not soggy, soft, or looking like something that was lost in the nether regions of my veggie bin when it’s thawed and ready for use, either.  In fact, you can use it frozen.  More about that later.

Let’s talk salad for now.

Kale and Apple Salad with Bacon and Pecans

Salad Ingredients

1-2 bunches kale

2 apples such as Fuji, Braeburn, Pink Lady, etc.

1/3 sweet white onion, chopped

3 pieces bacon, fried, drained well, and chopped

1/2 c. pecans

Dressing Ingredients

2 T apple cider vinegar

2 T apple cider

1 T honey

1 tsp. Dijon

1 T shallot, minced

2 T extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

  1. Remove any thick stems from the kale and chop the leaves into small bite-sized pieces.   Place in a large bowl for a crowd, or storage container if you’re making enough for fewer people over several days.
  2. Chop the apple, leaving the peelings on and add it to the kale.
  3. Crush  pecans in the palm of your hand and sprinkle over the kale and apples.
  4. Add the onions and bacon to the mix.
  5. Make the dressing by adding all ingredients to a small jar with a lid and shake vigorously.  Taste and adjust flavors by adding a bit more Dijon or honey to your preference.  Finish with salt and pepper if desired.
  6. Pour about half the dressing over the whole large salad and toss well, or if making ahead, toss a small amount over the salad just to moisten the apples to keep them from browning and then store in the fridge.

From left to right:  Russian kale, Tuscan kale, and curly kale.

I used curly kale for this salad.

Notes:

  • Be prepared to chew and chew and chew — a good thing!  The flavors in this are so pleasant.  Make sure a bit of everything is in each bite.
  • Of course you don’t have to add the bacon, but it’s certainly tasty in this.  And surely you remember the pig I bought from local farmer Jack of Taj Farms, right?  It’s incredibly lean and flavorful and we use it sparingly.
  • Although it may be personal preference, I believe that curly kale is the best for this salad — although black, or Tuscan kale would also work.
  • The best way to judge is to taste the kale before you decide what to use it for.  The longer kale sits, the more bitter it can become so make sure it’s used as fresh as possible.
  • If you’re not a raw kale lover, then steam about 3-5 minutes and rinse with cold water and drain well before continuing with the salad.
  • The salad keeps quite well in the fridge for three days so if you make it for dinner, you’ll have lunch ready for the better part of the week.
  • To freeze kale, rinse well and make sure it’s quite dry afterwards.  Line the leaves up on a dish towel and gently roll them up in it to absorb those drops.  Lay the leaves on a flat pan and place in the freezer about 10 minutes.  Remove and place in a zip lock bag making sure to carefully press out as much air as possible.  Use within a week by removing as much as you need and breaking the leaves into pieces.  Use in soups, quick breakfast scrambles, or smoothies.  

  • If you prefer, chop the kale after drying it, then freeze on a baking sheet and remove to the zip lock bag after about 10 minutes.  Grab as much as you need for all kinds of recipes.
  • Kale that has been frozen thaws very quickly and although it doesn’t wilt like lettuce does when it’s dried out, it does have a less crisp bite to it.  There’s no discoloration at all, however and chewing on it frozen is kind of refreshing.  Who knew?
  • Why eat kale?  It’s a true super food packed with so many good nutrients for your body it’s amazing.  The World’s Healthiest Foods tells all about it.
  • Good News — 18.1 lbs. lost as of today which means I made my goal of 6 lbs. lost three months in a row.  One more pound lost gets me to a big milestone, so I’m motivated about that.  And I’ve got to step up the walking because I’ve been slacking off the past week.  I have no excuses because the weather is great and nothing aches right now.  To be fair, I have been learning to fit weights in and core strengthening into my week in greater earnest, so I can have some kind of a schedule instead of just hitting each day with the attitude of “at least I’m doing something.”  It’s time to be even more deliberate so that by the first week of May I can say I’ve lost 24 lbs. — and that’s so close to 25…  We’ll see.  I’ve got a reasonable goal of 1.5 lbs. a week and am not in a hurry so don’t want to sabotage what I’m doing.  The longer this all takes, the more I’ll be able to say I’ve changed my habits and they’ll last.
  • Challenges — I’ve been pretty hungry this past week and am on a first name basis with my grumbling stomach.  I spend a lot of time at the market because it seems we’re always out of something.  Yes, I plan, but we go through the fresh stuff pretty quickly.  Remember I’m keeping the hubster stocked with his daily food as well.  His big challenge is that it’s the most busy time of the year and his hours are quite long.  He hasn’t been exercising but has kept up with good eating habits and holding steady at 22 lbs. lost.  Two more weeks to go!  Additional challenges for me are a steady loss.  I can swing by as much as 1-2 lbs. every few days going up, then back down.  Staying hydrated is a big challenge and I’m still struggling with eating consistently.  Ramping up fiber-filled foods has been an interesting experiment, but I’m working on the side effects of that as well.  More later on that.

Other ways I’ve prepared kale recently:

Kale, Purple Potato, and Bacon Hash — no recipe.  Just dice and roast the potatoes with a bit of garlic and olive oil, in a 400 oven or in a frying pan for about 15 minutes, tossing once or twice.  Fry 1-2 pieces of bacon and crumble with the potatoes.  Toss with the kale — you can saute it if you like, or leave raw like salad greens.  Place two eggs over.

White Bean and Sausage Soup with Kale — So many recipes around for this.  Use canned white beans or dried you’ve cooked yourself.  Vegetable broth, maybe some carrots and onion, always garlic.  Brown lean sausage  and add along with chopped kale.

Strawberry Banana Pineapple Yogurt Smoothie with Kale — Half a banana, about 5 strawberries a slice of fresh pineapple, cored, a half to 1 cup or so of non-fat plain Greek yogurt, 1-2 tsp. ground flaxseed meal, and a couple of handfuls of ice.  Don’t forget the handful of kale from the freezer!

Kale and Apple Salad with Bacon and Pecans
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A little bit of this nutrient dense salad goes a long way. Tasty and healthy!
Author:
Recipe type: Salad,Gluten-free
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • Salad Ingredients
  • 1-2 bunches kale
  • 2 apples such as Fuji, Braeburn, Pink Lady, etc.
  • ⅓ sweet white onion, chopped
  • 3 pieces bacon, fried, drained well, and chopped
  • ½ c. pecans
  • Dressing Ingredients
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar
  • 2 T apple cider
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 tsp. Dijon
  • 1 T shallot, minced
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Remove any thick stems from the kale and chop the leaves into small bite-sized pieces. Place in a large bowl for a crowd, or storage container if you're making enough for fewer people over several days.
  2. Chop the apple, leaving the peelings on and add it to the kale.
  3. Crush pecans in the palm of your hand and sprinkle over the kale and apples.
  4. Add the onions and bacon to the mix.
  5. Make the dressing by adding all ingredients to a small jar with a lid and shake vigorously. Taste and adjust flavors by adding a bit more Dijon or honey to your preference. Finish with salt and pepper if desired.
  6. Pour about half the dressing over the whole large salad and toss well, or if making ahead, toss a small amount over the salad just to moisten the apples to keep them from browning and then store in the fridge.

 

Great Ways to Enjoy Kale from Around the Web:

Design Sponge — In the Kitchen with:  Gena Knox’s Kale and Apple Salad

Sprouted Kitchen — Lemon Kale Salad + Seared Salmon

The Parsley Thief — Spaghetti with Braised Kale

Gourmande in the Kitchen — Kale Powder | Your Daily Dose of Green

Spoon Fork Bacon — Blood Orange & Kale Salad

gluten-free goddess — Easy Crispy Kale Chips