red grape, bacon & kale salad with balsamic goat cheese vinaigrette

freestyle friday
notes from maggie's farm

Before I could stomach collard greens, turnip greens, spinach, swiss chard, and all those other healthy green things, kale was my first love.

You might call it my gateway green.

The word is out, now, and kale is everywhere!  Kale chips, especially, seem to be the snack of the moment.  The last few moments, in fact.  Kale has been finding its way into soups and stews for a while. Doctors love it, eat it, cook it, give it the hard sell.
Kale is among the most nutrient-dense commonly eaten vegetables. One cup provides 1,327 percent of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin K, 192 percent of DV for vitamin A, and 88 percent for vitamin C.-- Dr. Andrew Weil
And in hot, dry Texas, gardeners love it, too!  It's ironclad in my garden. Behaving much like it's cousin, the collard green, kale is at its best during the cooler season, but, in my gardens, grows all year long, never going to seed. I grow several varieties, and we love them all.  Even my notoriously picky family requests kale, fresh from my garden.  

Commonly, you will find me sauteing kale in a little oil, with garlic and crushed red pepper flakes. Sometimes I toss in some grated parmesan cheese.  It's a traditional Italian preparation of the green. I may toss it with some seasoned homemade bread crumbs--I've taken to stuffing all manners of vegetables with it, too. 

Kale, the firmest of the greens, stands up well to heat, however is often a little too stiff to eat raw. If you show it a little attention, it will soften up a little, just like we all do.  

So give kale a massage.  You heard me right.  Massage your kale.  Maybe it's had a rough day.

A quick massage, of the leafy, destemmed green will soften, and sweeten kale, making it perfectly delightful in raw salads.  For this dish, I've destemmed what would be the equivalent of two market-sized bunches, and sliced, crosswise, in 1/4 to 1/2" ribbons.  In a large bowl, I tossed and massaged the greens with about 2-4T olive oil and 1/2t kosher salt.  Letting the greens 'marinate' in the olive oil for a while will yield the same effect.  The massage, or marination, breaks down kale's cellulose structure, thus 'wilting' the green.

While kale marinates (massage for a few minutes, then let sit for about 5, before proceeding), Destem and slice 2 cups of red table grapes.  Pan fry or bake 1/2# bacon.  (Okay, you don't need that much.  But bacon..c''s so good. And you know you're going to steal a slice from that batch.  Do it.  Live a little!).  Drain bacon on paper toweling, cool, and crumble. Crumble, and set aside, about 4-6 oz firm goat cheese.

In a small  bowl, whisk together the remainder of the 4T of olive oil, above, that didn't go into the massage session, 4T good quality balsamic vinegar, 2tsp brown sugar, and 2t dijon mustard.  Season, to taste, with kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper.  Stir in goat cheese and bacon.

Toss halved grapes and prepared vinaigrette with kale. You may choose to add the kale stems, sliced thinly, for a little added texture.  Correct seasonings. 

This salad will keep, refrigerated, for several days, thanks to our firm, green friend; Kale.


  1. This sounds great and I have all the ingredients!

    1. Hey there, GREAT TO SEE YOU!
      I ate for lunch and dinner over the course of 4 days. I think you're going to like it. Lemme know how it turns out for you!

  2. YUM! Good to know Kale will grow year round. I'm planning a Fall garden and Kale is at the top of my list. Wonderful combination of flavors in your salad.

    1. It does get a little stronger and a touch bitter in the hottest weather, but I deal with that with that little massage trick, above, and enjoy it year round. Thanks for stopping by!


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