Saturday, March 30, 2013

Kale Salad With Peanut Vinaigrette A La Houston's

I got knocked out with the flu this month, which was a major shock since I have the hearty constitution of an ox and rarely get sick. (My last cold was so long ago that George W. Bush was president at the time, the economy hadn’t tanked yet, and Daniel Day-Lewis only had one Best Actor Oscar instead of three!) I was in bed for a week and had no appetite whatsoever, but towards the end of that week I began craving kale in the worst way. I didn’t want just any kale dish; I wanted the Houston’s kale salad with peanut vinaigrette that my friends and I have recently become obsessed with. 

I found this baby red kale at the farmer’s market. Isn’t it gorgeous? It was worth the effort of getting out of bed for the first time all week. 

I know that everyone has a kale salad recipe these days, so much so that it’s a food trend in danger of overkill. I’ve even posted two different kale salad recipes here on Kitchen Fiddler in recent years, but I’m going to give you one more, regardless. And you won’t be sorry that I did, once you taste it for yourself. 

Unlike the City Bakery-inspired kale salad that I’ve written about here (with its lemony-parmesan dressing and toasted breadcrumbs), or the Esalen kale salad (with avocado, sliced red onions, a trio of toasted seeds and a lemony-soy dressing), the Houston's kale salad is something altogether different. This has more of a Thai flavor profile, with a peanut vinaigrette and a large fragrant handful of chopped cilantro, mint and scallions. Shredded green cabbage and chopped peanuts add a pleasing crunch. 

I ate this salad all week, and I found myself regaining my strength and appetite each time I ate it. I swear I could feel the nutrients in the dark leafy greens and cruciferous cabbage working their way through my system, building me up and restoring my energy. I think you'll agree that it is definitely crave-worthy, no matter what state of health you’re in. 

One Year Ago: Guinness Gingerbread Cake
Two Years Ago: Carla Hall's Asparagus Soup
Three Years Ago: Tuscan Kale With Olive Oil Fried Eggs
Four Years Ago: Radish Canapes With Avocado

I like Tuscan kale for this, also known as dinosaur kale or lacinato kale, but I used baby red kale when I took these photos. I don’t have exact proportions from the Houston’s version, but this is my best approximation of it. Feel free to add more mint, cilantro and chopped peanuts if you feel so inclined. 

For the peanut vinaigrette: 
½ cup peanut oil
2 Tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 Tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1-½ Tablespoons honey
Dash of cayenne pepper

For the salad: 
4 heaping cups chopped kale (from one smallish bunch kale, leaves washed and de-stemmed)
1 cup finely slivered green cabbage
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
¼ cup chopped cilantro
1 scallion, slivered
3 Tablespoons chopped peanuts (I use roasted salted peanuts)

Make the dressing by whisking all the ingredients together in a small mixing bowl. Alternately, you can add the ingredients to a small jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake vigorously to combine. 

Combine all the salad ingredients except the chopped peanuts in a large bowl. Add about half the dressing and toss well, adding more dressing as needed so that all the leaves are lightly coated. (You will probably have leftover dressing.) This salad tastes better if dressed at least 30 minutes before serving, giving the vinaigrette a chance to mellow out the crunch of the raw kale leaves. 

Add the chopped peanuts right before serving and toss again, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Makes 4 salad servings, or 2 main course servings.


Anonymous said...

It looks delicious. I can't wait to try it without that bain of my culinary existence, cila_ _ _ _ !!!!


louise said...

Thanks Lorra! Now you can make it yourself exactly as you'd like it, since the restaurant doesn't easily offer a cilantro-free version of the salad!

Marcia McCutchen said...

I tried this salad for the first time yesterday at lunch. Never heard of it before but I do love Houstons. Anyhow, I immediately became so obsessed with it that I got one to go so I could dissect it under bright lights. I asked for the dressing on the side, but they refused. I even asked for the manager, who said its pretty much like coleslaw, pre-dressed. They can't do that. Anyhow, the one thing I see missing here is that it defintely also has crumbled parmesan cheese, and the waiter told me it has serrano peppers. I feel like it also has a caesar edge, along with the peanut sauce. I just googled it, thank you for sharing your version. I am making this today. Just ate the rest for lunch and I added some chicken to it.

Marcia McCutchen said...

Thanks for posting this recipe. I am a chef and am going to try to make this to sell at the farmers market. Will let you know.

Anonymous said...

This looks exactly like the White House Tavern salad i had in Aspen. So excited, one if the best kale recipes!

Marcie McCutchen said...

Yes, everytime I make it for the Farmers Market is sells out. I also added a serrrano pepper to the vinaigrette. It's also very important to use the expensive peanut oil, not the cooking type. It smells like roasted peanuts.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recipe. I had this at Houstons the other night and have dreamt about ever since. (And I know from experience they don't give out recipes)
Hope you continue to feel better!

louise said...

I'm glad so many people are enjoying this! Marcia, I think the recipe varies a bit depending on which branch of Houston's you go to. There are three Houston's/ Hillstone restaurants in the NY area and each one tweaks the salad a bit differently. One puts Reggiano cheese in it (which I don't like with this particular combination of ingredients) while the other two don't, and I've noticed differences in the peanut vinaigrette from one restaurant to another. This is my approximation of my favorite version of the salad, which is served at the Hackensack, NJ branch!

Marcie McCutchen said...

Thank you again for researching this and posting it here!!! I absolutely love the salad. I forgot to say I also add about 2 TBL peanut sauce to the vinaigrette.

Toby Ventura said...

My first and only time to visit Houston's in Memphis, TN with dear friends-I had the ribs with a side of their delicious kale salad...wishing we had this fine restaurant in Anchorage, AK...thanks for posting your version of the salad. I'm fixing it tonight with fresh caught red salmon!

Jackie Jones said...

THANK YOU sooooo much for posting this. I am going to give it a try. I also LOVE the HACKENSACK Houston's version of this salad. THANKS again!

Anonymous said...

OMG this is the recipe I asked for in Aspen at White House Tavern . Thank you for posting-, I went back 3 times for the salad.

Sunshine said...

Just tried this salad for the first time at Houston's in Atlanta today and it was so delicious I had to find a way to recreate it! Thanks so much for posting this recipe; I can't wait to try it!

Mom said...

I just had a spazz attack when I googled "peanut vinaigrette" to make Houstons kale salad and saw you blog!!!. I dream of this most delicious, healthy salad. Since I first had this in Atlanta's Houston, that and the red cabbage and goat cheese (another incredible dish there) and brussel sprouts are the only things I order for my meal, AND, I get two more sides of the kale salad to go. I cannot get enough!!! Thank you SO MUCH for making my day, I'm gonna get the ingredients after work to make tonight!!

Mom said...

I just had a spazz attack, seeing your post!! I was googling peanut vinaigrette, to try to make this myself. You have made it easy now and I am going straight to the grocery store to make it tonight!!!!!

PS., Have you tried Houstons red cabbage and goat cheese? INCREDIBLE!!!! :)

Anonymous said...

I've been enjoying this salad at the Phoenix Hillstone for several months and last night tried your recipe. You nailed it. Thanks so much.

igravesatl said...

Thank you soooo much for posting this recipe. I always double order it in my Atlanta Houstons. I like the idea of adding the peanut sauce to the vinaigrette. I never heard of that. Is that something sold in a regular grocery store or a specialty one?I can't wait to try the recipe!

I Love Charlie said...

Have gone back 2 days in a row for this salad. Thank you!

Jodi Wilson said...

Anyone have any ideas on what I could substitute for the sesame oil? I can't have that. This is sooo good.

Anonymous said...

Like other commenters I too have been searching in vein for the Kale Salad I had almost every day at the White House Tavern in Aspen. Thank you for making my day with this recipe! Well done!

Anonymous said...

Made it. Loved it. Delicious!

Anonymous said...

This may also be the same recipe as Rutherford Grill's kale salad in Napa. They include their famous roasted chicken and serrano peppers- as well as a dash of tabasco instead of cayenne pepper!

Jamie Louise Wollenberg said...

What brand or kind of peanut oil did you use or recommend?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting! I don't even like kale but after the server at Hillstone gave me a complimentary side serving of this, I CRAVE it! This was close enough to curb that craving for awhile.

Marcia McCutchen said...

I use the Spectrum brand of Peanut Oil. It smells and tastes just like freshly roasted peanuts. It's quite expensive, about 8.00 for about 16 oz. but it is worth it for this recipe. Its also good to stir fry sugar snap peas in.