Fully Loaded Kale Salad

Zesty-sweet tahini dressing gently coats the perky, curly shreds of fresh, raw, dark green kale leaves. Each tender fluffy forkful is clustered with complex flavors and kale textures. Salty-sweet with a hint of bitter. The kale is tender yet chewy - even a tad crunchy. Flavor-infused leaves. So happy to share with you my Fully Loaded Kale Salad - it is one of my favorite go-to recipes.

But I lied. The salad shown is not really fully loaded. At least by my twisted standards. Yes, it contains a nice range of colorful toppings, but by "Kathy Salad" terms - this one is barely even loaded...

To attain "fully loaded" status I would really need to add the following..

Smoky maple tempeh cubes, black olives, sliced roasted peppers, shredded carrots, raw or sauteed mushrooms, chopped spinach blended in, a dollop of mashed cheezy-garlicky-hemp potatoes or maple sweet potatoes, perhaps a few homemade croutons and maybe an extra drizzle of buttery macadamia nut oil..

..Oh and nuts. Maybe a few nuts sprinkled over top. Sliced almonds. Or pecans. Or maybe just some pepitas. And a layer of seasonal fruit. Mangoes. Peaches. More citrus. Or perhaps some sliced pear. But pears go well with walnuts, so I'll need to change the nut component. Sprinkle of nutritional yeast for the walnuts. Vegenaise. I need some sprouted grain toast with a slathering of Vegenaise on the side. Or maybe just more seeds for crunch. Hmm.

Hello my name is Kathy, and I'm an "as many salad toppings as possible" addict.

OK, OK.. toppings are fun. But this salad is really all about that healthy, tender, glorious kale. Lets continue..

Raw Kale Salads have become quite trendy the past year.
Actually kale in general has stepped into the limelight. But over are the days when "kale" meant you were serving up steamed or wilted dark leaves doused in olive oil, lemon, cider vinegar and chopped garlic (although that is quite tasty as well). But we like is raw now. Raw leaves, lots of chew, crunch, texture.

Kale is seductive. With its shifty curled leaves and sturdy green stalks, it can hold its own to other spotlight greens like spinach, chard and arugula. Kale has one thing that those wilty greens don't have: body.

oh-so-trendy, full-bodied, charismatic kale..

And in the texture sense, kale is a lot like cabbage. A robust green with a longer in-bowl life than most. However, kale is much more nutrient-dense than most cabbages simply because of those dark leafy green leaves.

Healthy Kale. Kale is rich in fiber and potassium. It is prized for its nutrients: calcium, vitamins C, K & A, iron, manganese and more.

The Toppings. Yes, it is possible to make a kale salad delicious with only a few toppings. Actually, just the kale and the dressing would make this quite cravable. Raw crunchy, tender kale tossed in a homemade tahini dressing. I love this dressing because it has few ingredients. The seasoned rice vinegar adds really all the sweetness you will need. Each dark green leaf of kale coated in bitter-sweet dressing zestiness. And then come the toppings. Here's my (sort've) fully loaded Kale Salad.

And ps my husband loves this raw kale tahini salad - or any raw kale salad really. Shocking to me. But he loves them. Loves them. Totally picky eater (and picky husband) approved..

I hope I've sold you on raw kale (if you aren't already a fan). And if you can add a few kale salads a week to your family's diet - good for you! This beautiful, flavorful salad is your ticket to kale bliss.

Kathy's Fully Loaded Kale Salad
vegan, served 2-3 entree portions

1 large bunch of kale (any variety) - remove thick stems/shred leaves by hand

Toppings (as shown - but you can add your faves):
2-3 Tbsp hemp seeds
2-3 Tbsp raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup apple, sliced
1/2 avocado, diced/tossed in lemon juice
handful of cherry tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup juice-packed mandarin oranges
1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced
fine black pepper

2 1/2 Tbsp tahini
3 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1-2 tsp healthy oil (I used macadamia nut oil - grape seed oil also nice)
1 tsp grade B maple syrup (optional - if you need extra sweetness to balance the bitterness of tahini)

To make:

1.Wash your kale, dry well. Pull tender leaves from thick lower stems. Shred leaves by hand. Add to large mixing bowl. Discard thick stems.
2. Briskly mix together the dressing ingredients. Do a taste test and adjust as desired for your tastes. You can always add in more maple syrup if your tahini is too bitter. I also like to add in an extra splash of apple cider vinegar when I'm craving a very zesty salad.
3. Toss your kale salad in your dressing. I use salad tongs instead of my hands (some will massage the kale) I actually like my kale a tad al dente (not overly marinated with dressing) so I simply toss with tongs until the dressing is evenly distributed.
4. Fold in the hemp seeds and sunflower seeds.
5. Add the remaining toppings in a lovely pattern on top.

This salad will also do well in the fridge for a few hours - or even set out at a party or potluck. If not eating right away I'd use a tad less dressing - or add another 1/2 bunch of kale.

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