Experimenting with creative ways to add flavor to dishes—without resorting to unhealthy, calorie-packed ingredients—is one of the most fun and interesting parts about cooking. This salad is a great example of that, because the unexpected bursts of flavor come from a creamy homemade dressing, fragrant toasted almonds, and quick-pickled red onions. No croutons or cheese necessary!
We chose to use fresh blackberries in this salad, but feel free to make it with raspberries, strawberries, or blueberries! You can also substitute the kale for spinach or arugula, though kale will make for a heartier salad and won't get soggy if you think you might have leftovers. The berries are used in the dressing, too, which is made with reduced balsamic vinegar for a sweet and creamy vinaigrette.
If you've never pickled onions before, don't fear—you likely have the ingredients on hand, and a few minutes in the fridge does the work for you. The result is sweet, flavor-infused slices of onion that pair deliciously with the berries, toasted almonds, and chia seeds. Enjoy!
Blackberry Kale Salad with Blackberry-Balsamic Dressing
For the dressing:
- 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2/3 cup fresh blackberries (or berries of your choice)
- 1-2 tablespoons maple syrup
For the salad:
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
- 3/4 cup slivered raw almonds
- 4 cups kale, thinly sliced into "ribbons"
- 1 1/2 cups fresh blackberries
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
For the dressing: Heat a small saucepan over medium heat, add the balsamic vinegar, and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking for 15-20 minutes, or until reduced by half. Set aside.
For the salad: Combine the red wine vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Add the onions, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator to pickle for 15 minutes.
Place the slivered almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat and cook until fragrant and slightly golden brown.
Add the balsamic vinegar and remaining dressing ingredients (olive oil, blackberries, and maple syrup) to a blender. Blend to combine. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
Place the kale, blackberries, pickled onions and chia seeds in a large bowl. Top with the almonds and dressing. Toss to coat, then serve!
Recipe adapted from Minimalist Baker's Everyday Cooking.