The kale is bolting.
The kale is bolting!!!
After a serious stretch of beautifully warm and sunny weather, the kale out in my garden has started to shoot up and flower, which (seriously awesomely) is attracting the most wonderful buzzing hummingbirds and fat little bees, but unfortunately means that my kale has started to get bitter and woody. As it was the last opportunity to grab my pretty purple curly kale (I still have maybe a week on another variety), I wanted to put together this easy but awesome gluten-free kale caesar salad recipe.
Because the kale has a slight edge to it, it seemed like fun to simultaneously play that bitterness up and also mask it with a creamy, pungent quick-and-dirty rustic ceasar dressing with big chunks of chopped fresh garlic and capers, plus some of the homemade pickled chard stems and red onions that I wrote about here. They’re quick and easy, plus they add great flavor and a perfect crunch to this salad. These bright and fresh flavors were just perfect in this caesar salad recipe. Then, just for fun, I garnished this pretty salad with some of the flowers from the bolting kale, chives, and thyme that are so beautifully and quietly asking to be added to everything.
The first year I started gardening in Napa (or Paradise, as I call it) I made it my mission to eat as many flowers as I could. That just seemed like the perfect goal for such a ridiculously lucky year. Who gets to live in Napa?? As a Minnesotan, that just wasn’t ever really on the table. Who gets to live on vacation? Turns out, anybody who decides that they want to! However, a year of living in Napa, growing fresh produce, and eating flowers just felt like something that needed to happen.
As a result of this goal/experiment, I discovered that you really can eat the flowers on nearly every plant that you grow for food (plus a few that most people just grow ornamentally)! Kale, radish, chive, thyme, and so on all make beautiful additions to your plate. It’s also one final way to use the whole plant before you lose it, so one fewer thing winds up going to waste. Nearly always, they are a milder and more delicate version of the flavor of the plant that they came from, so it makes sense to use the flower of a plant in any dish where you might want to use the plant itself. (Don’t have access to flowers? Just leave them out! You can use chives instead of chive blossoms, kale instead of kale flowers, and so on.)
Naturally, the fried egg on top is also something that you can leave off, but why on earth would you? There just isn’t a salad out there that doesn’t become automatically better with a fried egg on top! This caesar salad recipe is absolutely no exception.
Simply Delectable Quick-and-Dirty Kale Caesar Salad Recipe
- 1 cup mayo (homemade or purchased)
- 1 large (or 2 small) cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 Tbs capers, drained and minced
- 2 Tbs lemon juice
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- 2 tsp olive oil
- ½ cup parmesan cheese, grated
- 4 cups kale, stems removed and chopped fine, leaves torn in bite-sized pieces
- ¼ cup homemade pickled red onions (see recipe)
- 2 Tbs pickled chard stems, chopped or sliced (see recipe)
- ½ tsp salt
- 1-2 radishes, thinly sliced
- 2-3 Tbs freshly grated parmesan
- Whole egg, fried (per person)
- Garnish (all optional) freshly cracked black pepper, good quality salt, a small drizzle of olive oil, chopped chives or parsley, and flowers, like chive, thyme, kale, and/or radish!
- Combine all ingredients, mix well to combine. Taste, and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. If you want a thinner dressing, add a little more lemon juice or warm water, thinning to desired consistency.
- Combine the kale and salt, and massage really well until the kale is thoroughly wilted (1-2 minutes).
- Add 2-3 Tbs Ceasar dressing, and mix well. Put the salad in the fridge for at least 10 minutes, if you have time. Kale salads are really cool in the way that they just get better as the flavors meld!
- Add the radishes, onions, and chard stems, and toss to combine. Add more dressing if you want a more heavily-dressed salad. (Pro-tip: reserve a few radishes, onions, and chard stems for garnish!)
- Taste, and adjust seasoning. Top with a fried egg, freshly grated parmesan, and a little black pepper (and good quality salt if I've talked you into keeping some of that around by now!)
You might want to try the Absolute Miracle Sky-High Protein, Low-Carb Power Pizza, or the Addiction Chicken with the Best Peanut Sauce Recipe Ever. You might also like the Romantic Seared Scallops, or perhaps you’re in the mood for Intense Chickpeas with Spicy Tomato Sauce!
If you’re looking for a couple of super healthy beverages, you might want to take a look at the unbelievably healthy Cleansing Parsley Tea or the Homemade Kefir (which is incredibly easy to make!) Blackberry Ginger Smoothie.