Black Rice and Kale Salad

A hearty salad for those in between summer-fall produce finds

Hello friends! Popping in to share this nutrient-packed (and pretty darn delicious, might I add) salad to appease those in between summer/fall days. In the south, we always tend to have a brutally warm summer, a fake-out autumn that lasts about 1-2 weeks, a summer part II, then a real fall. And oh, what a saga it is. The month of September always ends up being an odd time here, as you'll be able to find both tomatoes and squash at your farmers market. So what do we do if we want to embrace fall but it is also obscenely hot outside? We make a salad! And not the boring, sad, ice-berg-lettuce-with-a-side-of-1-crouton kind of salad. Part of making a good salad comes from appealing to the fundamental rules of flavor and texture, i.e the namesake of chef Samin Nostrat's bestselling book- "Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat". First up , salt- don't be afraid to add a pinch to your dressing and roasted veggies (if you are including them). A little goes a long way in terms of making an ok meal great! Next, fat- if you can, I would highly suggest making your own salad dressing. It doesn't have to be anything complex- most evenings I forgo any formality and go directly for the olive oil and red wine vinegar in my kitchen cabinet. Now, onto acid- I addressed this earlier, but the bright hit of lemon juice, lime juice, apple cider vinegar, etc., cuts right through any overtly earthy flavor from your salad greens and melds beautifully with the dish as a whole. Lastly heat- this could come in the form of red onion, shallot, radish, green onions, or even thin slices of chili or a few good cracks of black pepper. Similar to the acidic element, a bit of heat excites the palate and overall makes a boring salad exciting and punchy.



Alright, now that I've waxed poetic about the wonders of salad, let's get into the actual recipe!




Black Rice and Kale Salad



-1 bunch kale, de-ribbed and chopped

-juice of 1/2 lemon

-1 small butternut squash or ½ large butternut squash, peeled and chopped finely

-1/2 cup croutons, homemade or store bought (optional)

-1/4 cup roasted pecans

-1/4 red onion, sliced

-1/2 granny smith apple, sliced

-1/2 cup cooked black rice ( I used lotus brand black rice)

-1 tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil

-juice of ½ lemon

-1 tsp salt

-1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper

-1/8 tsp red chili flakes

Chicken (optional)

-2 chicken breasts

-3 tbsp olive oil

-1.5 tbsp salt

-2 tbsp rosemary

-black pepper to taste

-zest of one lemon

Salad Dressing:

-1/3 cup olive oil

-juice of one lemon

-2 tbsp red wine vinegar

-pinch of salt

-1/4 tsp honey

-black pepper to taste


Preheat your oven to 400°F. Place your squash on a sheet tray and toss with salt, Aleppo pepper, 1 tbsp of your olive oil and chili flakes. Place in oven and cook until golden brown, anywhere between 20-30 minutes. Set aside. Place kale into a medium sized bowl and add the lemon juice and 1 tsp of olive oil. Rub between hands to soften and place in fridge. Light your grill or grill pan and wait about 5 minutes for it to come to temp before using. In a separate bowl, add your chicken breasts, olive oil, salt, rosemary, lemon zest and black pepper and coat to toss. Place on grill and cook between 7-8 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the chicken breasts. Internal temp should read at least 165°F in the thickest part of the meat. Set aside and let rest. Combine salad dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to homogenize. Set aside. In your serving bowl, combine the kale, apple, squash, black rice, croutons (if using), red onion, and pecans. Chop the chicken (or alternative protein) into cubes and add to the bowl. Dress as desired and enjoy!

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