love your lunch: kale and brussels salad
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Loving your lunch lately? I usually don’t. I suppose you could call it a new challenge of mine, but I’m not getting crazy and calling it a resolution or anything. Dreading my lunch has a lot to do with a lot of things, but it mostly whittles down to a lack of good options. What can I eat that is good for me and actually tastes decent, and how do I keep enough of whatever is in my house with five eaters? Let’s face it, more often than not, this combination doesn’t come together very easily.
With all that said, here is a salad to change your life, or at the very least, your relationship with your lunch.
Yes, that’s right. I’m not saying you will feel like you are eating hazelnut butter cake with salted caramel sauce, our family’s Christmas high point, but I’m serious when I say this salad tastes so good that I actually look forward to my lunch.
Buy some Kale. I’ve been buying 2 bunches, washing, ripping, and storing them.
This first step can actually take effort, I’ve bought plenty of Kale from unsaid stores and had to throw it away. Don’t give up. I’ve found it consistently crisp and fresh at Whole Foods, and the effort to find what lasts has been well worth it. If I wash and salad spin it right away or store it in a bag with a paper towel or two, it seems to stay fresh and crisp the longest. And if you are like my friend Ben, you may even grow this in the dead of winter in Minnesota. What?? It’s on my list for 2016 or something to be mentored in this.
Take some almonds, chop and toast them.
I use about a 1/2 tablespoon of oil, toss in 1 cup of roughly chopped almonds, sauté until fragrant, and lightly toast for about 2 minutes. Obviously, you can skip this step and buy toasted almonds, and normally that is what I would have done. But having tried this the recipe way, I am kind of hooked.
Slice or shred up a wedge of Pecorino cheese (sheep milk) or parmesan (cow milk) both are delicious Italian cheeses.
(The original recipe calls for Pecorino, and it’s also worth the effort to find it if you can at some point. Yummy!)
Buy a bag or a few large handfuls of fresh whole brussels sprouts. Cut off the ends and throw the Brussels left whole in a food processor fitted with a slicing attachment if you have it. If not, just chop them up however you’d like. The point is to get these babies shredded or chopped.
Make a salad dressing with 1 lemon squeezed–about 1/4 cup, 1 tablespoon of finely chopped shallot, 2 tablespoons of dijon mustard, 1 garlic clove crushed, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper to taste. Whisk together and let these items sit and blend while you prepare the rest of the salad. When ready to serve, whisk or shake in 1/2 cup olive oil to complete the dressing.
For lunch, take a big bowl with room to mix, and toss together 2 cups of kale, 1 cup of Brussels, and a tablespoon or two of dressing.
Toss the greens until the dressing has covered your hearty greens. Dump it on a large plate and add a sprinkling of nuts and cheese as you wish, I usually do a large tablespoon or so of each. On a day when I’ve worked out or need/want a bit more protein, I’ve added eggs, hard-boiled or fried, or grilled chicken.
This salad is seriously the most satisfying salad I’ve had to date. The thought of salad for lunch has never thrilled me, but this may be my breakthrough. It is special enough to feel just a tad bit indulgent and easy enough to prep and store.
If you want to make it for a side like I did this past Friendsgiving, the full recipe is below.
kale and brussels salad with pecorino and toasted almonds
- 1 large bunch of kale
- 12 ounces fresh brussels sprouts or about 4 big handfuls
- 1/3 cup raw almonds, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil for frying almonds
- 1/2-1 cup finely grated or shaved pecorino or parmesan cheese
- 1 lemon squeezed, about 1/4 cup
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
- 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
- 1 garlic clove crushed
- 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few cracks of freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- Whisk together lemon juice, shallot, dijon mustard, garlic, salt and pepper.
- Let this mixture sit while you prepare the salad so the flavors can blend.
- Set oil aside until the end.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a sauté pan, add chopped nuts, and toast until lightly colored and fragrant, about 4-6 minutes total, stirring a few times.
- Remove almonds to a paper towel-lined plate and lightly salt.
- Toss together your greens.
- When ready to serve, whisk the 1/2 cup of olive oil into the lemon juice dressing mixture.
- Add just enough dressing to the salad to coat the greens as you like, sprinkle on the cheese and almonds and lightly toss.
- Store leftover dressing in the refrigerator for up to a week.
- Taste salad and season as needed.
This post contains affiliate links to products I know and love. I recommend any of them for this recipe!
Consider this the first of what will hopefully be many more love-your-lunch ideas. And by all means, if you have a great healthy lunch idea or salad, send it my way.
Last Updated on November 11, 2022 by Heather Bursch
Heather, just saw this and it made me happy to think about making this. You know I’m not a foodie, but I sure do like that I have friends that are. Thanks for sharing your food interests and insight from a realistic mom of 3 perspective. 🙂
Thanks, Betsy! Self titled foodie or not, you have great taste in the food you make and like, so your compliments mean a lot. Speaking of, I NEED that green chili soup recipe.
I haven’t loved kale in the past, or Brussels either, for that matter. This makes me want to try again the next time I find some good looking Kale. Thanks for posting these things! It takes time and energy and I appreciate it! I think I’ll make scones instead : )
I totally hear you Heidi! I haven’t loved kale either, until now. I feel like you’d appreciate this salad but maybe I’ll bring it over sometime and you can just have a taste. No commitment before you get a taste. And yes to the scones. Yes yes yes. 😉
Our friend Jen made this for dinner tonight and caught an error in the ingredient list. The directions said dijon mustard but not the recipe. It’s all correct now, with dijon for extra yummy flavor. 😉
Wow!! Dinner was awesome tonight and it was all because of this salad!! I served it with some grilled salmon and popovers. It was beyond satisfying! I prepped the ingredients and Harrison tossed the greens with the dressing. He transferred a couple of big hand fulls to individual bowls and then topped them with the almonds and parm. He made them pretty big and even Harrison said he loved it and practically licked his bowl clean. I, of course, left enough of each ingredient to bring to work, along with some leftover Easter eggs since you suggested putting hard boiled egg on it for added protein. I look forward to “loving my lunch” once again!! Thanks Heather for that. I never would have tried this on my own.
Yay! I love that you liked it. I love the grilled Salmon with this, adding it to my next time list. I made this salad for lunch twice this week. I cannot get enough. 🙂