I like salads, but I don’t think of myself as a salad person. This blog has introduced me to some wonderful salads, but my husband and I don’t see eye to eye on one thing: kale. I have come to find that I like it, but he’s not a fan. He prefers baby spinach in his salads, and I’m not so crazy about it as a salad base. It can make it difficult to settle on a salad recipe, but today I’m making this Nutty Harvest Honeycrisp Kale Salad for lunch since he’s at work. This recipe has a lot going on, and I’m intrigued by the combination of ingredients. Cinnamon Shallot Vinaigrette? This sounds like one of those recipes that will either be really good or just terrible. I need to know which!
This is one of those salads where I actually wanted to lick the bowl when finishing. It was THAT good. I mean, that sort of reaction tends to only happen with super fabulous pizza or mac and cheese or even eggs and toast but never… salad. UNTIL NOW.
This salad has a lot of ingredients, but don’t let it intimidate you. A number of the ingredients are pantry staples, though, and I had several on hand: olive oil, coconut oil, salt, pepper, red wine vinegar, honey, dijon mustard, garlic, and all the spices.
But like most recipes, there were a few things I had to shop for. The Tuscan kale and honey crisp apples were the main ones on my mind, but they were easy to find. I also didn’t have a problem with the shallot or pecans.
The only item I’m not sure about was the pepitas. Let me explain. Pepitas are the seeds of a specific type of pumpkin. So while all pepitas are pumpkin seeds, not all pumpkin seeds are pepitas. But searching for pepitas turned up packages labeled “pumpkin seeds”. I’m not sure if what I got was a bag of genuine pepitas, but I hope so!
Now comes the fun part: making the Nutty Harvest Honeycrisp Kale Salad. Since one page is a list of ingredients and the second is the instructions, it looks like it would be complicated. It kind of is, but the author broke it down into manageable chunks:
- Smoky Honey Pepita Clusters
- Sweet and Spicy Toasted Pecans
- Cinnamon Shallot Vinaigrette
The recipe lists a total time of 45 minutes, but I had my salad ready in 35. Here’s how it went.
Smoky Honey Pepita Clusters
These nutty clusters kicked off the cooking. I began by microwaving the honey and coconut oil in 15-second bursts to melt them. I should have tried one 20-second burst because the dish bubbled over and made a mess.
But that was the most trouble this recipe gave me, and I quickly had the honey, oil, and spices mixed with the pepitas. I spread them over a parchment-covered sheet pan, trying to keep them together, and popped them into the oven.
They spread out some as they baked for 15 minutes, but the result was a thin peanut-brittle-like sheet of pepitas. I left them to the side to cool and broke them apart when I mixed up the salad.
Sweet and Spicy Toasted Pecans
The pecans were pretty easy to toast. I used a large saute pan so I could toss them and get both sides toasted. The recipe calls for low heat, so I set my stove on 3 out of 10 and kept a close eye on the pecans while I did some other prep work.
I didn’t time them, but it seemed to take a while to get them toasted. But once I could smell them, I knew they were ready for the honey and spices to be added to the pan. After a thorough mixing, I turned the nuts out onto a second parchment-covered sheet pan to cool.
Cinnamon Shallot Vinaigrette
I started on the vinaigrette while the pecans were toasting. This part had the most ingredients, but it was very easy. I used my mini-prep and just kept adding ingredients to it as I measured and chopped my way through the list. Then a quick mix on high, and my salad dressing was done.
I wasn’t sure how much kale was in one bunch, so I bought two and ended up using about 1 1/2 in my salad. The stems are not pleasant to eat, so I just ripped off the leaves and added them to a large bowl. Then I added a tablespoon of the vinaigrette and massaged the leaves.
I left the kale to the side and finished the salad prep by finely shredding the sharp white cheddar cheese and slicing the apples. After 10 minutes, it was time to put it all together.
I broke apart the pepitas, added the pecans and cheese, and tossed them with the kale. Then I topped it all off with the sliced apples, and I was done! Two servings of a beautiful Nutty Harvest Honeycrisp Kale Salad plus a lovely vinaigrette.
Pressed for time?
I certainly understand if this recipe seems like a lot to do. I get it. If you’re short on time, I would make the pepitas clusters, pecans, and vinaigrette the night before you plan to serve the salad. You could even shred the cheese at this time or buy it already shredded.
The next day, give the vinaigrette a good shake, then massage it into the kale, slice the apples, and assemble the salad.