Can we just get something out of the way straight out of the gate? I am a notorious kale hater. I’m pretty sure I’ve written multiple times about how I feel like eating kale is like eating weeds out of my flowerbeds. Not that I’ve actually ever eaten weeds, but I imagine that’s what eating weeds is like. Remember back in the 1980s when salads weren’t a whole lot more complicated than some iceberg lettuce and ranch dressing? And kale (and an orange slice) was a garnish at Sizzler that you weren’t supposed to eat but you did anyway and then you cried? Now it’s food? No. I’ve tried. It still makes me cry (on the inside.)
Well, awhile back, Chick-Fil-A added a Superfood Salad to their menu and although it involved kale, I was intrigued. So while I felt kind of dumb ordering the “superfood salad” as a side, I did it and guess who doesn’t always hate kale? Me. In fact, in some cases, I’ve discovered that I rather enjoy it (especially when those cases involve this to-die-for maple-cider vinaigrette.) I made a few tweaks–I can rarely find broccolini (and let’s face it, the Chick-Fil-A salad is a little skimpy on the broccolini, probably because they can rarely find it as well) and when I can, I would have to consider selling a child to finance Operation Broccolini 2016. So I just decided to opt for regular broccoli and will just substitute broccolini if I can ever find it for a price below that which a small European country sells for. I also am not a fan of walnuts, so I used sunflower seeds, and when I had this for dinner the other night, I added a sprinkling of feta to my serving to add a little protein. Also, if you’re not digging (or can’t find) tart dried cherries, dried cranberries will always work.
make the dressing
To make the dressing, you’re going to need real maple syrup, apple cider vinegar (look for the murky stuff with “the mother,” like Bragg), kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, Creole or mild coarse grain mustard (Walmart’s Great Value brand has a really amazing mustard–it’s just in a squeeze bottle and says “Coarse Mustard.” Go figure…), and extra virgin olive oil (I used our garlic olive oil, and bacon oil would be amazing, too, kind of like Sara’s dressing here; I just had a hard time coming to terms with using 1/2 cup of the precious bacon olive oil all at once.)
In the jar of your blender, combine the vinegar, onion, mustard, salt, pepper, and maple syrup. Blend until smooth. With the blender running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Set aside.
making the salad
Now. One of the keys I discovered to not hating kale was to massage it. Just…put the clean kale in a big bowl and grab it with your hands and just scrunch it up until it’s a little less…weedy. It’s kinda weird, I’m not gonna lie, and your husband might walk in and say, “Hey, Kate, what are you doing?” and you’ll just say, “Oh, I’m just massaging this kale,” and he’ll kind of back out of the room like he just walked in on you watching Teen Mom again. But really, it helps break down the toughness and helps it hold onto the dressing a little better.
After you’ve massaged your kale…
toss it into a large serving bowl. Make sure your broccoli is broken into very small bite-sized pieces…
Then add that to the kale. Add 6 ounces of cherries (or dried cranberries…it’ll be 1 heaping cup of cherries)…
and 1/3 cup of shelled sunflower seeds. You’re gonna have to use your imagination for that part because I just got so excited that I used up all my sunflower seeds and forgot to take a picture. Drizzle about 3/4 of the dressing onto the salad
and toss to coat evenly. Add more dressing if desired. Refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
Fresh broccoli and kale is tossed with tart dried cherries and sunflower seeds and then drizzled in a maple cider vinaigrette to make a quick copycat of Chick-Fil-A’s superfood salad that everyone will love (even if they hate kale!)
- 1/3 cup cider vinegar (if you can, use something murky like Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar)
- 1 green onion, trimmed about 1” on top and the “hairy” root end on the bottom
- 1 teaspoon Creole or mild coarse grain mustard
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- A few cracks of fresh black pepper
- 2/3 cup real maple syrup
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (I use our garlic olive oil)
- 4 cups broccoli broken into small pieces
- 8–10 cups (about 8 ounces) kale, massaged
- 6 ounces tart dry cherries or Craisins
- 1/3 cup salted, shelled sunflower seeds
- In the jar of your blender, combine the vinegar, onion, mustard, salt, pepper, and maple syrup. Blend until smooth. With the blender running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Set aside.
- In a very large bowl, combine the broccoli, kale, cherries, and sunflower seeds. Drizzle about 3/4 of the dressing onto the salad and toss to coat evenly. Add more dressing if desired. Refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
- If you’d like to add a little extra flavor or protein, try crumbling a little feta or mild goat cheese right before serving.
- Serving Size: 8