Kale, carrots, sunflower seeds, and fresh ginger combine to create this bright, delicious, satisfying copycat of New Seasons’ popular Kale & Carrot Salad.
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Sometime around 2010, kale went from being an ornamental green most often found tucked between crocks of veggies on an open salad bar to being the It vegetable of the Twenty-tens. All of a sudden, you could find kale everywhere, in everything.
In the heat of this kale-fueled moment in culinary history, one of our daughters brought home a huge bag of kale and used a couple handfuls of it to made kale chips, because they were so popular and (theoretically) so good for you.
She baked them up, and she really wanted to like them. We all did. But no. NO. I know that this may bring the wrath of the Vegan/Paleo/Clean Eating communities, but I just cannot endorse kale as a Chip. Not then, not today, not ever. It’s a personal choice; and my personal choice is No.
That said, we now had a big bag of kale and needed to figure out something to do with it – and I knew exactly what that something was.
Our local New Seasons stocks this tasty, sunflower-studded Kale & Carrot Salad in the Grab-n-Go case. On more than one occasion, I have paid ten-fold for what basically amounts to a handful of kale; just to enjoy the sweet umami flavors and satisfying crunch of this salad. With a stockpile of kale staring me down, I decided that it was high time I figured out how to make it at home.
New Seasons shares a recipe for Kale & Carrot Salad on their website; however, when we tried it, we all agreed it didn’t taste like the salad at our local store. Maybe the cooks at our local store doctor the company recipe a little, or use an earlier version: who knows? Anyway, I ended up making a few small but important adjustments to the ingredient list.
The biggest change I made to the original recipe, however, wasn’t so much related to the What as the How. I added one small but vital step to the process: I blanch the kale first. As far as I’m concerned, when it comes to kale salads, blanching makes all the difference! (Broccoli salads, too.)
What does it mean to Blanch Vegetables?
Blanching is the quick, simple food prep technique in which food (most often vegetables of some kind) are flash cooked in boiling water, and then immediately plunged into an ice bath to stop the cooking process.
Depending on the food being blanched, the technique may be used for different reasons: to soften vegetables, to relax fibers, to make peeling easier, or to brighten the color. Blanching times differ depending on the recipe, but usually fall between 30 seconds and 2 minutes.
In the case of kale, a 1-minute blanching helps soften the tough fibers and makes it easier to chew. It also makes the natural kale flavor more accessible, thus making it more far more palatable.
Our Kale & Carrot Salad copycat recipe comes darn close to the original, and it got rave reviews from both Mr. B and Gramma Edith [RIP], so it’s a keeper! Enjoy!
Post Updated June 15, 2020 (Originally published January 22, 2015)
Kale & Carrot Salad
- Large Stock Pot
- Sharp Knife
- 3/4 lb fresh kale
- 2 large carrots peeled and coarsely grated
- 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
- 2 tablespoons tamari or light soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger minced (I usually add a little more.)
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin scant
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne scant, or ½ t. Sriracha
- 2-3 cloves garlic minced
- Gather and prep all ingredients.
- Using a sharp knife, remove tough center stems from kale. This is easier to do if you fold the leaves in half first.
- Discard stems.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high medium-heat.
- While the pot is coming to a boil, fill a large mixing bowl halfway with ice. Add water up to the ice line.
- Put the cleaned kale into the boiling water for 1 minute. (Use a timer. You want the kale to relax, but you don't want it to become limp.)
- Drain kale in colander.
- Immediately plunge kale into prepared ice-water bath. Drain kale in colander again. Squeeze kale to remove excess water.
- Drain kale in colander again. Squeeze kale to remove excess water.
- While the kale is still in a kind of wet wad, take a large kitchen knife and slice it into small, thin pieces.
- Put cut kale into a bowl and separate the pieces using your fingers.
- Add grated carrots and sunflower seeds.
- In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients and stir vigorously to combine.
- Immediately pour dressing mixture over kale mixture.
- Toss thoroughly to combine.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate.
This Kale & Carrot Salad travels well, making it perfect for a barbecue or picnic! Check out our Southern Barbecue Recipes for lots of great ideas! (It’s a vegan recipe, too, so everyone can enjoy it!
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