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Winter Kale Salad and Brown Butter Vinaigrette

  • Author: Tessa
  • Total Time: 55 mins
  • Yield: 1 C 1x


A perfect winter salad of hearty kale, spiced roasted chickpeas, toasty pepitas, juicy pomegranate, creamy cheese crumbles, and breadcrumbs for a bit of crunch, all tossed with comforting shallot and brown butter vinaigrette.



Brown butter vinaigrette (makes 1 cup)

  • 2 T minced shallots
  • 2 1/2 T apple cider vinegar
  • 2 T sherry vinegar
  • 1 t maple syrup
  • 3/4 t dijon mustard
  • 6 T unsalted butter
  • 6 T walnut oil or your best olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Lots of fresh ground black pepper


  • 1 or 2 bunch curly kale (any color), stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 pomegranate, arils (edible fruit) removed
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained, rinsed, and dried on a towel
  • 2 T olive or vegetable oil (plus extra for kale)
  • 1 1/2 t ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 t smoked paprika
  • 1/4 C raw pepitas
  • 1/2 C crumbled Cornish yarg cheese (see notes), cheese curds, or chopped cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 C fresh bread crumbs, toasted (see notes), or panko


Brown butter vinaigrette

  1. Combine shallot, both vinegars, maple syrup, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a few grinds of pepper in a bowl or liquid measure. Meanwhile, cut the butter into tablespoons and heat in a small pan over medium low heat. After it melts, stir or shake the pan frequently. The butter will bubble and foam (it will be noisy). Once foam subsides, carefully watch butter as you continue to stir. You’ll see particles in the butter start to turn brown and it will begin to smell nutty. At this point, immediately remove from heat and the pan. Drizzle butter into the vinegar mixture while whisking. Allow to cool 5 minutes or more, then gradually whisk oil in until emulsified. Season to taste with more salt and plenty of pepper. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally to prevent separation. Store, covered, in the refrigerator.
  2. If making vinaigrette ahead, bring to room temperature for up to an hour. Heat quantity needed in a small saucepan over very low heat.

Salad preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 400 (F).
  2. Massage kale with a pinch of sea salt, then drizzle with a teaspoon of oil and toss with your hands, rubbing the leaves to coat with oil. Set aside or store in refrigerator for up to two days.
  3. On a rimmed sheet pan (these are my favorite), toss garbanzos with 2 tablespoons oil and a big pinch of salt. Roast for about 15 minutes, until sizzling and just beginning to brown. Stir or shake the pan once or twice during roasting. Measure cumin and paprika into a medium mixing bowl. Add hot chickpeas with excess oil and stir to coat well. Set aside.
  4. Toast pepitas in a dry skillet over medium heat, until mostly browned and some begin to puff. Cool on a towel.
  5. Toss kale, half the breadcrumbs, and 1/2 cup vinaigrette (for four salad) until coated. Top with pomegranate, spiced garbanzos, toasted pepitas, cheese, remaining breadcrumbs, and a few grinds of fresh cracked black pepper.


Salad and dressing inspired by The Red Cow in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Purple kale is especially pretty with this salad, if your grocer carries it.

Check with a speciality cheese shop for Cornish yarg cheese. It’s a mild, creamy cheese–much less assertive than blue cheese or feta–that crumbles nicely.

Many sources suggest toasting breadcrumbs in oil. However, I simply heat a well-seasoned cast iron skillet over medium heat, add fresh breadcrumbs made in the food processor, and stir occasionally until they start to brown. They’ll get even crispier as they cool on a paper towel.

  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 25 mins
  • Category: Salad
  • Cuisine: Healthy