It’s Monday and this is a fall kale salad. Cliché?
Sort of, yes. But I swear I will make it worth your while. I never steer you wrong when it comes to a kale salad!
Because here’s the thing.
It’s basically my mission to create a fall kale salad worth freaking over every year. Last year it was the honeycrisp harvest salad. This year it’s another kale salad because they are so much HEARTIER than regular old salads.
And they feel so fall-like to me!
I love the texture. The crunch. The fact that they don’t wilt in 26 seconds.
This is a necessity – the variety and the salad worth freaking over, that is – because I have such a hard time with salads at home. SUCH a hard time.
When I make one, I’m rarely excited about it. I feel like it never tastes as good as a salad that I have in a restaurant or one that someone else makes me.
Of course, there are a few exceptions to that, like my house salad that we adore, or the honeycrisp salad mentioned above, or the poppyseed chicken salad… okay, I could go on. There are a bunch of salads I like at home but it’s difficult to get pumped over having one for lunch.
Side note: I’m having a (reborn) love affair with the fuji apple chicken salad from Panera. It’s the salad I used to get so many years ago and I definitely burned out on it, but now I’m into it again! Definitely game on recreating that here at home. For sure.
So THIS fall kale salad. Why it’s different and why I’m obsessed:
We have apples. And figs!
Toasted pecans for crunch.
Crispy pancetta for more salty crunch and exceptional savory flavor.
My favorite quick pickled onions because they are so delish on EVERYTHING.
And goat cheese. Of course. Can’t forget the cheeeeese.
The dressing. Ohhhh this dressing.
I’ve rambled on before about how I never liked any salad dressings as a kid and that was a huge factor in not wanting to eat salads. As soon as I started making my own, my mind was blown on the flavor. It is really rare that I will use a store bought dressing. I usually don’t care for creamy ones and vinaigrettes are so super easy, so I love making ’em here.
And I present… maple cider vinaigrette! Apple cider vinegar, maple syrup and a pinch of nutmeg. A hint of fall and it tastes AMAZING.
So I’m naming this my September salad. To go with my September sangria!
That balances everything out. I’m sure of it.
Apple Pancetta Fall Kale Salad
- 1/4 cup quick pickled onions
- 2 ounces pancetta
- 1 bunch lacinato kale, leaves removed from stems (you want 4 to 6 cups)
- 2 small or 1 large honeycrisp apples, chopped
- 1 cup fresh figs, chopped
- 1/3 cup pecans, chopped
- 2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
maple cider vinaigrette
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced or pressed
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Next, heat a skillet over medium heat and add the pancetta. Cook, stirring often, until the pancetta is crisp and the fat is rendered. Remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon and place it on a paper towel to drain excess grease.
While the pancetta is cooking, shred the kale with a large knife. I like to run my knife through the leaves until they are in smaller pieces, but don’t worry about them being super smell or uniformly sized. Place the kale in a bowl and add 1 teaspoon olive oil. Massage the oil into the kale with your hands for 3 to 4 minutes. Set the bowl aside to sit for moment. Chop up your apples, figs and pecans at this time too!
When you’re ready to assemble the salad, sprinkle the kale with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add in the pancetta, the apples, figs, pecans and pickled onions. Add the crumbled goat cheese on top. Season with another pinch of salt and pepper. Drizzle with the dressing and serve!
maple cider vinaigrette
In a bowl, whisk together the vinegar, syrup, garlic, salt, pepper, nutmeg and pepper flakes. Continue to whisk while streaming in the olive oil. This dressing stays great in the fridge in a sealed container for a week or so, so feel free to make a double batch if desired!
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May as well just give me a pitcher of the dressing to drink too.