Let's say you've conquered the raw kale salad. Maybe you massage it, maybe you don't, but it's definitely no surprise anymore to sit down to a big bowl of raw, dark greens and chow down. But perhaps now you're a little bored. You want something more — a recipe to impress your kale-loving friends and shake you out of your salad stupor this summer. Smoky and garlicky, studded with chunks of grilled bread, this grilled kale salad is it.
I started making grilled kale salads shortly after discovering the wonder that is grilled kale. If you've ever made kale chips, you know the magic of exposing kale to intense, dry heat: the formerly tough leaves crisp up, becoming browned and addictively crunchy at the edges. Grilling kale produces leaves that are crispy and charred in some spots, tender and chewy in others — and while they make a fine snack straight off the grill, dressing them and turning them into a salad is worth the extra step. Although you lose most of the crunch, the smoky flavor intensifies after the leaves are dressed, making a kale salad that tastes like no other.
The only thing more exciting than grilled kale might be grilled bread. Although it seems like glorified toast, a piece of good bread rubbed with a little oil and salt, then grilled until crunchy and striped black, is not toast. It is so much more than toast. After grilling, the bread stays soft and a little chewy in the middle, and soaks up some of the flavorful dressing without getting soggy. I won't blame you for rooting around in the kale for extra chunks of bread while dishing up your second helping.
A little tart, very garlicky, with an unusual smoky flavor, this is a kale salad to bring to your next summer potluck, or make at the next backyard BBQ. If nothing else, it will get you out of a raw kale salad rut — for the next few months, at least.
Garlicky Grilled Kale Salad with Grilled Bread
Serves 4 to 6
For the salad:
2 bunches (about 1 pound) kale, washed and dried
3 tablespoons grapeseed or other high-heat oil, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for bread
2 thick slices sourdough bread (about 3/4-inch thick)
1 small clove garlic
2 tablespoon shaved Parmesan (optional, see Recipe Notes)
For the dressing:
1 large clove garlic
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Cut out and discard the stem and central rib from each kale leaf. In a large bowl, toss the kale leaves with 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt, until leaves are evenly coated with oil. Rub both sides of the bread with the remaining tablespoon grapeseed oil and sprinkle with a little salt. Rub the small garlic clove over both sides of the bread.
Preheat a grill or grill pan to high heat. Working in batches, grill the kale leaves until brown and crispy on both sides, about 30 seconds to 1 minute per side. Grill the bread until crisp and lightly charred on both sides, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Roughly chop the kale leaves into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl. Cut the bread into large cubes and set aside.
To make the dressing, grate the large garlic clove with a microplane (or use a garlic press) and combine with the lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Pour the dressing over the chopped kale and toss to coat. Add the bread cubes and toss. Transfer to a serving platter or bowl and garnish with the cheese, if desired.
- I used a vegetable peeler to shave thin slices of Parmesan to garnish this salad, but I think it is just as tasty — and great for vegan eaters! — without the cheese.
- I used Tuscan kale in the salad pictured, but curly kale works just as well.
- Like many kale salads, this recipe keeps well. If you plan on making it ahead of time, keep the bread cubes separate and toss them with the kale just before serving.
(Image credits: Anjali Prasertong)