Salads don’t have to be boring at home. In fact, they shouldn’t be boring anywhere. Growing up, the salads we made at home were always an afterthought. Never the co-star of dinner, they were more like the unpaid, unnoticed movie extra. The wooden salad bowl (why was it always a wooden bowl?) would be unenthusiastically placed on the table as a result of some customary practice my parents believed in that there should be always be a green on the table. And, to a certain point I agree! There should always be greens on the table. But, what about purples, and oranges, and crunchy chickpeas (not a color, but stick with me), and fresh herbs? Can we give a little love to the other provisions that live in our pantry? Salads should be colorful, crunchy, textured – and the STAR of the table. Never the afterthought. Enter my kale salad with red cabbage and krispy chickpeas.
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Think of it as a party and everyone’s invited
How to elevate your salads at home
Don’t think you need to have just one lettuce or base to the salad. Mix it up with different textures and leaves. Think of it as a party and everyone’s invited. I love to use crunchy red cabbage and kale to start. Red cabbage has always been something I shied away from at the grocery store until one day I bought it and never looked back. (Not to mention it’s filled with Vitamin C and so healthy for you!) I’m telling you, buy it and try it. You’ll wonder why you didn’t hit *add to cart* sooner. I love the crunchy texture and not to mention it adds a beautiful pop of color to the salad (it’s all about taste AND aesthetics).
Add fresh herbs. Add fresh herbs. Add fresh herbs. Mint. Parsley. Cilantro. They have a place in your salad just as much as the lettuce. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bought parsley to garnish meatballs, shakshuka, or, risotto, just to find it in my fridge weeks later wilted and sad. Salads are the perfect place to use up all your fresh herbs. Don’t be shy with them either.
Add crunch. The crunch doesn’t have to come from a crouton either. Sure, I love a good crouton, but think about ingredients that offer the same experience. For instance, chickpeas — not just for homemade hummus, my friends. Pan fry them up with your pantry spices and they transform into these crunchy, salty, mini flavor bombs. Trust.
Go nuts. The spiced chickpeas don’t have to do all the crunchy work. Add nuts. Sometimes I even like to add candied nuts for a hint of sweetness in my salad. Again, it’s a party and everyones invited.
Add more color. Exactly that. Think about the ingredients in your refrigerator that are vibrant. Shave some carrots, chop some red peppers, and throw them all in.
How to serve your salad
I am a firm believer that salads taste better on beautiful plates or very, very shallow bowls. Now, this is not scientifically proven, but salads seem to be so much more appetizing this way. I like to see every shred, segment, bit, spec, crumb, and morsel of the salad. And, the only way to achieve that is to lay it out flat to see what I’m working with.
I like to serve this salad with the kale leaves cut nice and thin like ribbons. You can achieve this technique by rolling up your kale leaves and cutting the sides.
Once you’ve so tenderly arranged the salad onto your plate, it’s time for the dressing. I know I compared the salad to a party and let everyone know they’re invited, but it’s not exactly everyone. There is one ingredient whose invitation got lost in the mail and that is any kind of thick dressing. There’s no room in this salad for ranch or blue cheese. Light, citrusy vinaigrettes only. The components of the salad are hearty and need something acidic and light to balance it out.
I can’t wait for you to try this kale and red cabbage salad. All the elements are there – texture, flavor, crunch, healthy, and more. It comes together so quickly and will look gorgeous on any table setting. Hopefully this will inspire you to get creative with all the salads you make at home once you see how easy it is!
When you make this salad — or one inspired by it — don’t forget to tag me on Instagram to show me your masterpiece!
Build your salad
- Red cabbage, about 1 half a head, cut in long shreds
- Tuscan kale (about half a bunch, cut into ribbons - see instruction above)
- 1 carrot, shredded with vegetable peel
- 1/4 cup of parsley, very roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup of toasted walnuts
Make your krispy chickpeas
- 1/2 cup of rinsed chickpeas from a can
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/8 tsp paprika
- 1/8 tsp salt
- a pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
Make your dressing
- 1 tbsp of fresh lemon juice
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 tsp honey
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp garlic powder
Make your salad
Mix together all ingredients (shredded red cabbage, ribboned kale, shredded carrots, parsley, walnuts)
Krisp your chickpeas
In a small frying pan or saute pan, heat your olive oil over low-medium heat. Once hot, add your rinsed chickpeas. Then, add the rest of the ingredients (paprika, salt, and cayenne pepper (optional)). Toss chickpeas around in pan to ensure they're fully coated with spices. Stir occasionally. Remove chickpeas once they turn deep golden brown (about 10 minutes).
Make your dressing
Mix together all ingredients in a small bowl or mason jar. Stir until all ingredients are combined.