There is no time when I crave a lemony kale salad more than when it’s the dead of winter in Alaska. There might be practical reasons for this, as this time of year, it seems, more fragile greens just don’t make it up here looking very good. And, sometimes there are weather shipping delays, cleaning out the romaine and the spinach completely. (Winter shipping also makes finding a good avocado tricky, but I know you can do it.)
This salad delivers all the flavors: savory, salty and a little spicy with formidable greens, crunchy chickpeas and rich avocado. For years, I made it Caesar-style (sans egg), and that’s an easy variation, too. The crunchy chickpeas are a good substitute for croutons and it makes the salad gluten-free, if that matters to you.
Lemon-hot sauce kale salad with crispy chickpeas
Serves 4, generously
1 15-ounce can chickpeas
For the salad:
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 to 2 teaspoons Frank’s hot sauce, or more depending on your taste
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup micro-planed Parmesan cheese
2 bunches kale, any variety
1 ripe avocado, sliced into bite-sized pieces
fresh ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Rinse the chickpeas, drain them, and then roll them out on a layer of paper towels. Top with more paper towels and roll them around to dry them. (This is what makes them crispy. If you’re hardcore, do this the day before and dry them on a sheet pan in the fridge overnight.) Put them in a single layer on a sheet pan, drizzle generously with olive oil and salt aggressively. Roast for 15-20 minutes, until the outsides are crispy.
Remove kale stems and cut into bite-sized pieces. In a jar with a lid, dissolve salt in lemon juice, then add mustard, hot sauce, crushed garlic, olive oil and Parmesan. Shake well. Toss half the dressing with the kale and wait about 20 minutes. When you’re ready to serve, taste the kale and add additional dressing if you want. Toss with chickpeas and avocado. Add four or five cracks of fresh ground pepper.
(If you’re wanting a Caesar vibe, add two mashed anchovy fillets and two dashes of Worcestershire sauce to the dressing. I leave the Frank’s in, but that’s up to you. Sprinkle a half-cup additional Parmesan on the salad to serve. )