Is it spring yet? Not here in Quebec City, it’s not. No flowers or even buds are in sight yet, and it’s been raining for several days straight—which, in a way, is good because it made our several feet-high snowbanks melt in a flash. Every year, from late March, we know we’re over the extreme cold and the snow storms, but nature’s still sleeping tightly, so we’re stuck just walking in the slush and the dirt until mid-May. This yearly in-between season is the hardest time of the year for me. Everyone’s saying, “Summer’s finally coming!” like an incantation, and we talk about the summer festivals and the lazy afternoons on terraces and the barbecued meals, but there are still so many weeks to go through before any of that happens.
While the Internet is ablaze with fresh spring recipes, cocktail ideas, and grilling tips, I’m still craving comforting dishes, but I do want to see some bright colors on the plate. This crunchy, earthy, salty, and sweet salad makes for a nice hearty meal with a glass of Chardonnay and a thick slice of bread—a meal that we still have to enjoy by the fireside but helps us hang tight ‘till the summer salads finally come around.
A note about this recipe’s two kale textures: Mixing raw and crispy baked kale adds a very interesting dimension to the dish, but you can skip the crispy kale altogether and just use raw. But since the oven’s on, why not make kale chips too? It only takes 5 minutes!
Crispy and Raw Kale, Beets, and Pecan Salad
Makes 4 appetizers or 2 mains
2 tbsp [30 ml] extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp [5 ml] red wine vinegar
1 tsp [5 ml] Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
A pinch of sea salt
For the roasted beets
3 large beets (1 lb [454 g]), peeled and cut into 1-in [2-cm] cubes
1 tbsp [15 ml] olive oil
2 tbsp [30 ml] maple syrup
Sea salt and black pepper
For the salad
6 cups [1.4 L] raw kale, tough stems removed, leaves chopped in wide strips
1 tsp [5 ml] olive oil
4 slices of cooked bacon, chopped in bite-sized pieces
A generous handful of Spicy & Sweet Cocktail Pecans
Make the dressing: Add all the dressing ingredients in an airtight glass container (such as a small Mason jar). Shake vigorously and let rest for a while. The dressing is best if prepared at least an hour in advance.
Prepare the roasted beets and the kale chips: Preheat oven to 400°F [200°C] and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Put the cubed beets in a mixing bowl and add the olive oil, the maple syrup, a generous pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Mix well so the beets are well coated with the oil and syrup mixture. Spread the beets in a single layer on the parchment paper-lined baking sheet and roast for about 40 minutes, or until you can pierce the beets easily with the tip of a knife.
While the beets are roasting, line a second baking sheet with parchment paper. Put 2 cups of the chopped kale leaves in a mixing bowl, and add 1 tsp [5 ml] olive oil. Using your hands, rub the leaves together so they are all lightly coated with olive oil. Spread the kale leaves on the second parchment paper-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt. Five minutes before the end of the beets cooking time, add the kale to the oven. Toast until the kale is lightly browned but still bright green. Be careful not to burn it—the kale will finish crisping up while cooling.
Take the kale and the beets out of the oven and let both roasted veggies cool completely at room temperature, at least 30 minutes.
Assemble the salad: In a salad bowl, mix together the raw kale, beets, pecans, and bacon bits. Add dressing to your liking. Divide between plates and top each serving with parmigiano-reggiano shavings and crispy kale chips. Serve immediately.
Recipe Credit: Marie Asselin. The recipe was previously published in French by Fou des foodies.