I’ve never been one of those people who can get really excited about a salad. A hot, cheesy dip, some freshly-baked sourdough bread, or a tray of fudgy brownies? Absolutely. But some cold green stuff in a bowl? Not so much. I mean, it is food, so it has that going for it, but the humble salad never really made my mouth water.
I’ve lately changed my way of thinking. Since I know it’s beneficial to my health to eat more salads, I have turned it into a culinary challenge. The object is to create salads that are interesting, tantalizing and delicious enough to get me excited about them. Salads can and should be so much more than sad, raw vegetables haphazardly sprinkled over pale, wilting lettuce.
I’m pretty excited about this salad. It helps that it’s beautiful, but it also has some wonderful flavour and texture combinations. Crunchy, slightly bitter baby kale is tossed with sweet, juicy orange segments, ripe blueberries, crispy cucumber slices and some raw cashews, which happen to be my favourite nut.
The orange is really the star of this salad, as you use it three ways to extract the maximum amount of flavour possible. There’s the orange segments in the salad itself, but you also zest the orange and squeeze every last drop of its juice into the dressing. You’ll need to know how to segment the orange: if you’re not familiar, go here to watch a handy YouTube video that explains it quite well. All you need to complete the dressing is a splash of white wine vinegar, some grainy mustard to help it emulsify, and a healthy drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Am I selling you on this salad?
The end result is fresh and wonderful, with the sweet citrus and berries balancing the bitterness of the kale. You could substitute another dark, bitter green for the baby kale if you like; arugula would be nice. A handful of goat cheese would be a tasty addition as well. You might also choose to use your favourite nut in place of the cashews. That’s one thing I do love about salads: they’re all about improvising and adding what you have on hand, or whatever flavours you like together.
See? I’m clearly somewhat excited about this salad. No, scratch that. I am very excited about this salad. And if it can win me over, it must be pretty special.
- Zest of 1 large orange
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- ½ teaspoon grainy mustard
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3 cups packed baby kale
- Segments from 2 large oranges (about 1 and ½ cups total)
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- ½ English cucumber, sliced
- ½ cup whole raw cashews
- In a small bowl, whisk together the orange zest, orange juice and grainy mustard. While continuing to whisk, drizzle the olive oil into the bowl a little at a time until well blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- In a large bowl, combine the baby kale, orange segments, blueberries, cucumber slices and cashews. Drizzle the dressing over top and toss to combine. Serve immediately.
- If you don't want to serve it right away, the salad and dressing can be refrigerated separately until ready to serve. Toss the salad and dressing together only immediately before serving to maintain freshness/crispness.