Big Bistro Kale Salad with Walnuts & Blue Cheese
This is one of those substantial main course salads that the French do so well. It also doubles nicely as a side salad without the extra protein.
I’ve actually served this as a side for guests on two occasions and both times it was the dish that got the most compliments! I think people are surprised that a kale salad can be that delicious.
The secret is using a neutral flavoured oil so the vinegar and mustard really dominate the dressing – the perfect punchy counterbalance to the healthy greeness of the kale. I use a regular olive oil (not extra virgin) If blue cheese isn’t your thing, make sure you check out the variations below. It’s good but definitely not a deal breaker.
I’ve used Cavolo Nero (Tuscan or black kale) in the photo but my absolute flavourite kale for this salad is a curly purple kale from the farmers market. Of course if you’re not a kale fan there are always options in the Variations & Substitutions below…
One more thing… kale salads are great for entertaining (and for work lunches) because you can make them in advance and leave to stand for a few hours before adding the toppings. The acid and salt from the dressing actually soften the kale and make it easier to eat.
There are 7 ingredients listed here but one is oil which I don’t count (along with salt and pepper!).
- 1 big bunch kale
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
- 6 tablespoons neutral flavoured oil
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- handful roasted walnuts
- handful blue cheese crumbled
- 200-400 g (4-7oz) cooked chicken or other cooked protein , to serve (optional)
Tear kale from the stems then rip the leaves into bite sized pieces. Keep the stems for another use.
Place vinegar, oil and mustard in a small jar. Shake to emulsify. Season with salt and pepper.
Toss dressing in with the kale then top with walnuts, cheese and protein (if using).
WINE MATCH: A nice oaky chardonnay or a lighter red like pinot noir.
Variations & Substitutions
protein ideas - quick pulled chicken, leftover roast chicken, cooked sausages, poached eggs, boiled eggs, bacon, lentils, or chickpeas.
6-ingredients - I don't count oil, salt and pepper as ingredients.
4-ingredients / über simple - skip the blue cheese and protein and increase the walnuts.
vegetarian - use cooked lentils, chickpeas or extra nuts + cheese as your protein.
carnivore - bacon!
more substantial (carb lovers) - serve with a crusty baguette and butter. Or toss in roast root veg like parsnip, potato, sweet potato or butternut.
more substantial (low carb) - increase the protein and / or walnuts.
dairy-free - extra walnuts or protein. Or serve with a dollop of mayo or sliced avocado instead.
nut-free - roasted chickpeas or toasted sourdough breadcrumbs or croutons instead of the walnuts. Sliced crisp apple will also work.
Waste Avoidance Strategy
kale – will keep in the fridge in a plastic bag uncooked for at least 2 weeks. Once cooked it will keep for a month or so in the fridge. Can be frozen both cooked or raw.
sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar / oil / roasted walnuts / Dijon mustard - keep them in the pantry.
blue cheese – pre-packaged goats cheese can have a shelf life of months. If your packet is opened, though, best to freeze.
cooked chicken - freeze it.
Yes for a few hours! Just dress kale as per the recipe but keep the walnuts, protein and separately. Best up to about 3 hours but will keep in the fridge for a week and still be edible, although probably not dinner-party-worthy. Don't freeze. To serve,toss salad and sprinkle with cheese, nuts and protein.
More Kale Ideas…
- The Best Substitutes for Kale
- Salted Kale with Green Tahini
- Rosemary & Garlic Kale
- Lime & Tahini Kale Salad
- Kale ‘Carbonara’
- Killer Kale Gratin
- The Kale Archives…
Have fun in the kitchen!
Am I missing something or are your recipes not pin-able on Pintrest ?
I need to add an easy way to pin things. Sorry it’s not here already :)
Hi Jules, I like the look of this salad. What is your view on kale ‘massage’, with the oil ?!
You can massage if you want the leaves to be more tender Cass – I generally don’t bother but do dress it a few minutes / hours ahead so the acid and salt in the dressing does the same thing. I’m all for less work!
Yum, I remember you making this salad, it was so delicious! xx
Great memory Elizabeth!
Lovely to hear from you :)
I just tried this as per the recipe and it’s absolutely delicious! Thank you so much.
So glad you enjoyed Sam!