my go-to salad recipe: dark leafy greens with a classic shallot vinaigrette + toasted almonds

kale salad + sherry shallot vinaigrette | what's cooking good looking
kale salad + sherry shallot vinaigrette | what's cooking good looking

Does the internet/world need another kale salad recipe? Maybe not. But I might argue today that there's room for one or two more. 

This is a recipe I make ALL of the time, and I recently realized I have never shared it here. Sometimes I get carried away with getting super creative for the blog, that I neglect to share the super simple everyday stuff. My go-to recipes for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, or fancy dinner parties. This salad spans all of those meals. It’s that recipe that can always be hiding in your back pocket for when you want to add a little extra green to your table. 

Whenever I am serving a salad with a meal (which is often) this is the salad I serve. It’s one less thing for me to “think” about because I’ve made this so many times it’s a no-brainer. But, it’s also such a crowd pleaser. So often people ask me for this recipe, and I say to them …. yeah, I should put that on the blog …. but never have, until now.

I also thought this would be a good time to share a recipe like this. When we are getting bombarded with all kinds of crazy cookie recipes and indulgent holiday meals, I feel like I want to slow it down and give you something simple. Not necessarily the star of the table, but one that can be used over and over and one that always makes people happy.

What really makes this salad special is the classic French sherry-shallot vinaigrette. It’s one of those simple / sophisticated tricks that transforms any green vegetable. Good quality sherry vinegar is the key, it’s such a powerhouse ingredient that is always nice to have in your pantry. Not just for this dressing, but as a flavor boost in soups, stews, or when you’re feeling too busy or lazy to make a dressing, a splash of sherry vinegar and olive oil is always a good idea.  

This salad also serves as a great base for more elaborate salads. For example, I love serving this salad for brunch with some roasted veggies or roasted salmon on the side, and your guests can add it all together to make one big/filling salad kind of meal. You can also make this salad main event by adding some quinoa and some seasonal veggies to it and toss it all together. But honestly, my favorite use for this salad is serving it as is, hanging out as a side dish to get some green on the table, because it goes with pretty much any kind of meal – from big holidays feasts to small simple gatherings. 

kale salad + sherry shallot vinaigrette | what's cooking good looking
kale salad + sherry shallot vinaigrette | what's cooking good looking
kale salad + sherry shallot vinaigrette | what's cooking good looking
kale salad + sherry shallot vinaigrette | what's cooking good looking
kale salad + sherry shallot vinaigrette | what's cooking good looking
kale salad + sherry shallot vinaigrette | what's cooking good looking

dark leafy greens with a classic shallot vinaigrette + toasted almonds

SERVES 4-6

INGREDIENTS

for the shallot vinaigrette:
3 tablespoons of shallots, minced
3 tablespoons of sherry vinegar
2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
½ tablespoon of kosher salt
freshly cracked black pepper
about 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil

for the greens:
1 bunch of kale, chopped (I prefer a finer chop for kale)
2 handfuls of another green such as chard, spinach, arugula (or a mix), roughly chopped

for the toasted almonds:
1/3 cup of slivered almonds
a drizzle of olive oil

other optional toppings: sesame seeds, microgreens, some cooked quinoa (or your grain of choice) - about 1/2 cup

METHOD

Make the vinaigrette:

  • Place all of the ingredients, except for the olive oil, into a food processor and pulse a few times to chop and incorporated. Scrape down the sides. Then, in a slow stream, add in the olive oil while the food processor is running continuously. Taste, and adjust any seasoning necessary. *You want the dressing to be on the tart side, because it will mellow out once it coats the greens. 

Massage + marinate the dark greens:

  • Place the kale, chard, and any other dark (tough) leafy greens you’re using into a serving bowl. Leave out the lighter greens such as spinach or arugula, you’ll add these at the very end. Pour about ¾ of the dressing over, and massage it into the greens. Set it aside to marinate. You can do this a couple of hours ahead of time, but it’s best if you do it a minimum of 30 minutes before you serve the salad.

Toast the almonds:

  • Drizzle a small amount of olive oil in a small cast iron (or frying pan), and heat over low heat. Add the almonds and cook for about 3-5 minutes (stir or shake the almonds a few times) until light brown and evenly toasted. Remove from the pan and set aside until you’re ready to assemble the salad.

Assemble the salad + serve:

  • Add in the remaining greens and some more dressing. I like my salads heavily dressed, but if you like it on the lighter side you might not add all of the dressing. Taste one of the greens and then decide if it needs more dressing. If you’re serving this at a dinner party, you might want to keep it on the lighter side and serve the extra dressing on the side. Also, if you’re adding other ingredients such as sesame seeds, or quinoa, this is the time to do so. Toss to combine everything. Top with the toasted almonds and microgreens (if using), and serve.