The key to raw kale, for me, is tenderizing it with acid. The lemon balsamic of this salad sits on the kale for at least an hour (you can slaw it and do it the night before, as well), “cooking” the kale. The more chew you want, the less you marinade the kale. But, as a basic rule, make your favorite salad dressing, and toss the dressing with the kale in advance of serving. You can then simply add the fruit and nuts to the top of the salad. This is the perfect kind of salad to serve in individual bowls, dressing each individually with the fruit and nuts.
Originally, I made this only with cherries and pecans. My sister, Deja, suggested that Granny Smith apple would kick it up, a notch. Oh, how right she was.
Also, know that most dried Montmorency tart cherries are sweetened with sugar. Eden Organic offers a version sweetened with apple juice. The tart of the apple and cherry nicely balances with the sweet of the pecans and the agave nectar in the dressing.
I make the dressing with a combination of dried and fresh herbs, the fresh brightening up the dressing. However, and as our herb gardens are reaching high for the sky, salad is a great opportunity to toss in some fresh herbs. Be careful that fresh not only provides different flavors, but are fare more powerful. Play around and adjust to your taste. As always, my measurements, below, are approximations, and I skimped on the oil. Adjust to your own taste.
1 bunch of kale, cores and stems removed, and leaves torn small bite size pieces
1 granny smith apple (or a sweet-tart apple like pink ladies), thinly sliced
1/2 c or more, dried Montmorency tart cherries
1/2 c or more, raw pecans
juice from 1 lemon
1/2 t lemon zest
1/2-1 t agave nectar
1/4 c balsamic (or more to taste)
1/2 t salt
1/2 t ground white pepper
1 t fresh thyme, leaves removed from stems and finely chopped
1/2 t dried tarragon
1/2 t dried Italian herbs (or some chopped fresh basil, oregano, and marjoram)
1/8 t ground cayenne pepper
1/4 c olive or grapeseed oil
Whisk together in a large bowl: lemon juice, lemon zeskt, agave nectar, balsamic vinegar, salt, peppers, and herbs. Continue to whisk, and slowly incorporate the oil.
Add the kale and toss, coating all of the kale with the dressing.
Leave the kale for no fewer than one (1) hour, tossing at least once during the marinading time.
Dry toast the pecans, if you so choose, on medium heat.
Dress the kale with slices of apple, pecans, and cherries and serve.