Crunchy Apple Cheddar Salad – enthusiastic kitchen

This gives almost twice the crispiness you need for this salad, but I think you’ll appreciate any leftovers. A bundle of 8-10 ounces of curly or lacinato/tuscan/dinosaur kale with the woody stems and ribs removed yields the 5 ounce leaves used here. I usually slice the apple just before serving, just in case it’s prone to browning (but not all). The crunchy nuts are modeled after those found in the kale salad at Beauty & Essex on the Lower East Side.

  • 1 small shallot, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons (45 grams) of apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon smooth Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) Greek-style mayonnaise or plain yogurt
  • 6 tablespoons (80 grams) olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Crunchy stuff
  • 1 cup (115 grams or 4 ounces) sharp cheddar, coarsely grated
  • 1 cup (85 grams) flaked almonds
  • 2 tablespoons (15 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • Assembly
  • 5 ounces (140 grams) kale leaves, any variety, thinly sliced [see Note]
  • 1 large, crisp apple, halved, cored and thinly sliced
Heat oven to 400°F.

Start dressing: In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the shallot and apple cider vinegar and set aside while you prepare the crunchy stuff.

Make Cheddar Chips and Sugared Almonds: Line a large (half a sheet pan size) rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the cheddar evenly over half of the parchment in an approximately 8×12 inch, 1/4 inch thick rectangle. Sprinkle with a little cayenne pepper or black pepper, if you like.

Rinse the almonds in a colander under cold water (yes, really!) and shake off excess liquid. In a bowl, mix moistened almonds with powdered sugar, salt, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper until evenly coated. Spread on the second half of the parchment-covered baking sheet in a thin, even layer, leaving an inch around it for it to spread.

Bake almonds and cheddar together, 4 to 9 minutes, until cheese is melted to a fine, uniformly deep golden crisp and almonds are darkened around the edges and lightly golden throughout. Please listen to me: Watch it carefully. Both the cheddar and the almonds go from not yet golden to perfectly browned to burnt in what feels like a minute. Check it after 4 minutes and every one to two minutes thereafter until the pan is just right. Remove and let cool while the salad is done.

Finish the dressing: In the bowl, stir in the Dijon, mayonnaise, or yogurt with the shallots and vinegar, then drizzle in the olive oil, stirring constantly. Season the dressing with salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.

Assemble: In a large, wide bowl or salad plate, start by tossing the veggies with 2/3 of the dressing, then taste and add the rest if you like. Arrange the apple over the vegetables and fan the slices. Break the almond pods off the baking sheet and sprinkle over the salad. If the cheddar crisp seems very oily, you can pat it dry with a paper towel before tearing or cutting into large, bite-sized pieces and tossing over the salad. Season the salad with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Get ahead: The nuts can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for a week. The cheese chips are best stored in the refrigerator, slightly covered. The dressing will keep in the fridge for several days. Washed and patted dry kale will keep in a large ziplock bag in the fridge for several days, provided you keep it away from those places prone to freezing produce (or maybe this is just my terrible fridge).

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