One of the things I was tasked with contributing to my family’s Thanksgiving dinner was a salad (actually, I may or may not have assigned myself this job; I can’t remember). I wanted to come up with a salad that was more than the just token fresh vegetable on the table; we all know that most of the time, we each slip a few leaves of romaine on to our plates so we can feel somewhat virtuous in between heaping forkfuls of the good stuff like mashed potatoes and stuffing. I wanted the salad to be hearty, and full of delicious things, and something that people might actually eat a second helping of! And if I’m the only one who goes back for seconds of this one? Well, more for me.
Wheatberry and Kale Salad with Maple Dijon Vinaigrette
serves 6-8 as a side dish
10 oz bag of kale, torn into bite size pieces*
1 cup dry wheatberries, cooked and cooled**
seeds of one large pomegranate
6 slices of bacon, cooked until crisp, and crumbled
3-4 oz crumbled feta
juice of one lemon, divided
1 T maple syrup
1 heaping teaspoon dijon mustard
salt and pepper
*For those who are still scared of kale, you could use baby spinach instead (and obviously, skip the massaging part). However, once kale is dressed with some olive oil and lemon juice and worked a little bit (which helps to tenderize the somewhat tough leaves), it really just tastes like any other green, except with some more texture and chew! I have yet to experience the legendary bitterness that kale supposedly possesses… so, don’t be scared.
**Wheatberries are just the entire wheat kernel (less the hull), and are one of my favorite grains. They have a great chewy texture, which makes them great for things like salads, or stuffing peppers. You’ll find them in the same aisle as rice and other grains in the grocery store; if you can’t find them or don’t care to use them, you can certainly substitute brown or wild rice in this recipe.
1.) Start by prepping your kale. Add all the kale to a large bowl, and pour about one tablespoon of olive oil over it. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the kale, and add a small pinch of kosher salt; use your hands to massage the olive oil and lemon juice into the kale, about 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside.
2.) To make your dressing, whisk together the maple syrup, dijon, the juice of the remaining half lemon, a tablespoon of olive oil, and a good pinch each of kosher salt and pepper. Taste to make sure you don’t need to adjust it; my first round making this dressing, I found it wasn’t maple-y enough, so I added some more maple syrup. Adjust to your taste.
3.) Add the wheatberries, chopped bacon, and pomegranate seeds to the bowl with the kale. Pour the dressing over everything, and toss to coat. Top with the crumbled feta, and serve.
(I like to add extra pomegranate seeds to my salad. More antioxidants for me!)
Since I first came up with this salad (last week), we’ve had it as a main course twice, and we’ve debated whether to have it again before Thanksgiving. It’s super filling and hearty, thanks to the kale and wheatberries, with TONS of different flavors – the salty feta, the smoky bacon, the sweet and tart pomegranate. It’s a great fall side dish, and would be especially perfect to have on hand if you have any vegetarians joining you for Thanksgiving (omitting the bacon, of course). Side note: since kale is very hearty and holds up well to dressing, this salad can be dressed and assembled ahead of time (I wouldn’t add the feta until you’re ready to serve). You could easily assemble the whole thing 6-8 hours ahead of the big meal (drain off any excess dressing or oil/lemon juice), keeping it covered in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.
Tomorrow morning, I’ve got a quick post put together with a delicious way to cook acorn squash! It’s incredibly quick, easy, and delicious… and the leftover filling can be used to make an equally simple and tasty dessert. Make sure you check back tomorrow!
I’m totally ready for a long weekend,