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
KALE SALAD A LA HOUSTON’S
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.
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.