We decorated her hair with kale and magnolia blossoms outside Shari’s restaurant on a lovely spring day, a group of barely teenage 4-H girls, excited to be traveling, and poking fun at a friend with the restaurant’s “plate decor.” That moment, in the late 90’s, I learned about kale.
Fast forward a dozen or so years, and the sounds of elementary kids in a school cafeteria during summer camp overtakes me. I walk in the breezy doors and set down my supplies. My co-workers are already mid-spiel, whipping up banana, almond milk, blueberry, and kale smoothies. “Hulk smoothies”, all the young minds call them, and they have never been so excited to eat their greens. “We love Hulk smoothies,” they clamor.
My husband, W, asking me, what is that big green stuff? “Kale”, I say, “all the kids love it.” Skeptical, but open to what he now knows is more likely tasty than not, he tries it. “If restaurants would make these sort of salads,” he says, “more people would eat them.” I couldn’t agree more.
In the past year and a half, we’ve gone from just knowing about kale– that there was some hype in that area of the vegetable world– to eating it all the time. Growing it on the patio, even. Growing it at school, where even the high school students like the idea of crunchy spinach, as they have nicknamed it.
While we love kale in pasta, this salad, with honey and balsamic vinegar, raisins, and grilled sirloin, is perfect for this January season, when after the holidays we crave both fresh and clean, comforting and filling. Even more so if tossed in with a bit of caramelized onion, this salad accomplishes both.Honey Balsamic Kale & Sirloin Salad, adapted from Bon Appetit 1 Tbs. raisins 4 Tbs. white or dark balsamic vinegar, divided 1 Tbs. rice vinegar 1 Tbs. raw honey 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil 1 tsp. salt 1 bunch Kale, preferable Tuscan, center ribs removed, and leaves diced 8-12 ounces sirloin steak caramelized onions, if desired
- Place raisins in a small bowl; drizzle 2 Tbs. balsamic over them and let them soak while you’re prepping the kale.
- Whisk remaining 2 Tbs. balsamic, rice vinegar, honey, oil and salt in a large serving bowl.
- Add kale and raisin mixture to bowl. Toss to coat, and let marinate for 20-30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, as needed.
- Season steak with salt and pepper, and grill until cooked to desired doneness. Let settle for a few minutes, and then slice into long strips.
- Dish kale onto plates, and add steak to the top. Toss with caramelized onions, if using and serve.