Citrus Kale Salad with Maple Granola and Pancetta Vinaigrette
The sweet and tangy, crispy and crunchy Citrus Kale Salad with Granola and Pancetta Vinaigrette is full of Vitamin C, fiber and more bright and flavorful nutrients.
There was a time when I thought if I saw one more kale salad on a menu, I might order a Big Mac, purely out of spite. Yeah, yeah, kale is an amazing superfood (source), it’s the new spinach, the best thing you can eat for your health, the green that saves lives with its magical superpowers.
But have you ever eaten raw kale? It’s gross. Like, so bitter and chewy and…it’s gross.
There I said it. Let the superfood Gods and all of their skinny disciples unleash their wrath upon me.
Look, I love nutrient-dense greens as much as the next Yogi, but I’m just not cut out for eating raw kale, unless it’s cut up into the tiniest of pieces and massaged for what I can only assume to the length of a pricey deep tissue at a fancy resort.
It takes a lot of work to make raw kale edible, which is why I rarely eat it at home. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
But then I went to Orlando and had brunch at Cask & Larder and when the server wouldn’t stop raving about the kale salad, topped with citrus, avocado, watermelon radish, almond granola and bacon vinaigrette, I thought… let’s give it another shot. Maybe they’ve finally figured out how to make kale palatable.
Oh. My. God. This may just be the best salad I’ve ever eaten in my life. It was sweet, and yet tangy and salty (thanks to the maple, grapefruit and bacon). The kale was tender and anything but chewy, and the creamy avocado was a decadent treat, while the crispy granola and fresh radish gave each bite the perfect amount of crunch. Yes, it was the best salad I’ve ever had.
So I knew I’d have to recreate it as soon as I got home. This recipe is a little different than theirs (obviously, since they didn’t share their secrets with me!), but it’s just as delicious and hits all of those same flavor and texture notes that were so addicting.
And it’s super easy to make. Rather than massaging regular kale into oblivion, I opted to make this salad with baby kale, which might as well be spinach with a kick. It’s super tender, with just the slightest bite to it, and has quickly made me a kale salad convert.
Keep this gluten-free by opting for a healthier granola–my favorite is Paleonola (also available on Thrive), which is Gluten Free, Oat Free, Grain Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free, Preservative Free and Non GMO Verified.
And yet still, it is somehow delicious, because guess what? Real food IS delicious! In place of all those artificial fillers are a bounty of good-for-you nuts and seeds, lightly sweetened with maple syrup and honey, and cooked in superfood coconut oil with a touch of vanilla and cinnamon. Yeah, it’s delicious!!
Give this recipe a try and see for yourself.
- 1/2 cup organic, pastured pancetta, diced (can substitute bacon if needed)
- 1/2 cup gluten-free maple-flavored granola (I recommend Paleonola)
- 5 ounces organic baby kale
- 1 large grapefruit , peeled and sliced (reserve 1 slice for vinaigrette)
- 1 large avocado , peeled and diced
- 1/4 cup sliced red onion
In a small pan over high heat, crisp up the diced pancetta; set cooked pancetta aside on paper towels to drain, and pour 1 tablespoon of the grease into a small glass bowl, leaving the rest of the grease in the pan.
Toast granola in the pan with the reserved grease for a couple minutes, until crispy and aromatic. Set aside.
To a big salad bowl, add baby kale, grapefruit slices, avocado, red onion, reserved cooked pancetta and toasted granola.
For the vinaigrette, take the small glass bowl with the reserved pancetta grease and add the Dijon, maple syrup, grapefruit juice, red pepper flakes and olive oil. Whisk to combine, season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour over salad and toss until combined. Serve!
Photo Credit: Heidi Geldhauser
Photo Credit: Heidi Geldhauser
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