I was very hesitant (read: outright reluctant) the first time I was presented with a raw kale salad. But raw kale is surprisingly un-bitter, especially if you buy it fresh from the farmers market. It has a deep earthy flavor that I can only describe as "green" and a pleasantly chewy texture similar to spinach. I'm a raw kale convert, for sure. Kale is also a boon when it comes to make-ahead lunches. You can dress this salad in the morning, or even the night before, and the kale will still be firm and tender come lunch time. Keep the avocados in a separate container so they don't get mushed in the salad and spoon them on top of the salad just before eating. A hardboiled egg makes a great stand-in for avocados, and I've used diced apples, diced pears, dried cranberries, or other seasonal or dried fruit in place of the apricots (it's just that dried apricots are my favorite!). If this isn't quite hitting the spot, toast a piece of hearty bread and tear it into croutons over the salad. I often do this if I'm feeling especially hungry come lunch time.
Kale Salad with Apricots, Avocado, and Parmesan
Serves one6-8 ounces of kale (Tuscan or dino kale are particularly fantastic) 6-8 dried apricots 1/3 or so cup cooked beans (I love Good Mother Stallard beans, but also try cannellini or pinto beans) 1/4 or so cup almonds 8-10 flakes of Parmesan cheese 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 1/2 avocado salt and pepper Fold a piece of kale in half lengthwise and use your fingers to tear out the tough inner stem. Repeat with the other leaves of kale (you can save the stems to use in stir-fries, sauces, or soups). Tear all the leaves into bite-sized pieces and put them in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Cut the apricots into little bits and add them to the bowl with the kale, along with the beans, the almonds, and the cheese. Whisk together the oil and vinegar (or shake it in a small canning jar). Pour the vinaigrette and a healthy pinch of salt over the salad and use your fingers to toss and rub everything together. Transfer the salad to a bowl or a lunch container (if eating later). Just before eating, slice the avocado into cubes and spoon them over the salad. This salad will keep for about 24 hours, preferably refrigerated.
Related: Memorial Day Serving Idea: Salad in a Jar (Images: Emma Christensen)