Crispy kale salad with avocado and strawberries

I dreamed up this dish last summer when the farmer's markets in Denver were fantastic, and I was constantly inspired to eat all the veggies I could get my hands on. Honestly, this salad could be enjoyed without dressing - the crunchy kale, sweet strawberries, and creamy avocado all provide so much flavor on their own that a dressing is not necessary. I provided a dressing here, but feel free to try it dressing-less or simply drizzled with a bit of balsamic vinegar.
Summer is the time to get your fill of berries while the prices are low and the flavor is unbeatable. Strawberries - the heart-shaped members of the rose family - make the list of top 20 antioxidant foods and are known for helping to improve cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and fight against cancer. One cup of strawberries provides 112% of your daily free-radical fighting vitamin C, and they are high in phytonutrients that help lower C-reactive protein, an inflammatory marker raised by stress. Additionally, their high fiber content helps give them a low glycemic index, so they won't cause a spike in blood sugar (great if you have diabetes!).

Not to mention they're delicious.

Eat up!
We all know kale chips are awesome. A kale chip salad is an obvious next step.
Crispy kale salad with avocado and strawberries
Serves 2
Note: The textures and flavors shine through on their own, without dressing. I felt the need to include a dressing recipe, but feel free to enjoy this salad dressing-less or with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

5 curly kale stalks, leaves removed from stems
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
3 fresh strawberries, sliced
1/4 of a ripe avocado, sliced

Berry balsamic vinaigrette:
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 strawberry
1 1/2 tablespoons fruity olive oil
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 300F. Tear the kale leaves into bite-sized pieces and place in a bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil and use your fingers to rub each kale piece with oil to evenly distribute. Scatter the kale between two foil-lined sheet pans and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 10-15 minutes until toasted, then cool completely for maximum crunch. 
  2. While the kale bakes, prepare the berry balsamic vinaigrette. Combine all ingredients in a small food processor and whirl until smooth. Taste and adjust flavors as desired.
  3. Divide the toasted kale between two bowls and top with the fresh strawberry and avocado slices. Drizzle with the berry balsamic and serve immediately. 

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