Kitchen MacGyver: Crispy Winter Salad

This recipe delivers a large part of the vitamin alphabet vital to endurance athletes.

My husband says that kale tastes like hate and despair.

When he’s away on a business trip or it’s guys’ night out, I’ll take the opportunity to indulge—not with pizza or chocolate chip cookies (we eat these together)—but often with kale, swiss chard and other dark, leafy greens that I don’t tend to make for family dinners. I’ll admit that bitter greens are an acquired taste (particularly when they’re raw), but they deliver a large part of the vitamin alphabet and contain folate, omega 3s, calcium, potassium (and the list continues)—all of which are vital to endurance athletes.

I first learned about kale chips from one of my friends, who is a sports nutritionist in New York City, and from a woman selling the most gorgeous purple kale at the Hillcrest, San Diego, farmer’s market. They both advocated kale chips as something that would get kale haters to try, and maybe even like, the vegetable. I was skeptical at first because I thought that roasting the leaves at a high temperature would only concentrate its flavors, but people tend to like crunchy, salty snacks, so I gave it a try. Turns out, my husband really liked the chips. He’s not a convert, though, because he’ll only eat this particular preparation, but at least it’s a start.

Crispy Winter Salad    

1 bunch kale, washed and dried with stems removed and leaves cut into bite-sized pieces

4 baby red, purple or fingerling potatoes, sliced very thinly

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil

salt and pepper

6 cups mixed baby lettuce, washed and dried

1/2 cup shredded carrots

1/4 cup sliced, toasted almonds

1/4 cup cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss chopped kale with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss potato slices with 1 teaspoon olive oil, salt and pepper. Place kale and potato slices on baking trays so that none of the pieces overlap. Bake kale and potatoes for 15-20 minutes, making sure to flip the potatoes (gently so they don’t tear) halfway through the bake time. The kale and potatoes should come out crisp. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large salad bowl, combine lettuce, carrots, toasted almonds and cheese. Add the kale and potatoes and toss together. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with your favorite bottled salad dressing or toss salad with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and the freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon.

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