I am so ready for summer. Well, not the whole no school thing but for some warm weather at least. It’s been in the 50’s and raining the last week and I’m kind of over it. Get it together Nebraska. Besides the warm weather and pool days, my favorite thing about summer is cool, crisp, refreshing salads.
A few months ago when it was first released, I tried the superfoods salad at Chick-fil-A and my life was changed forever. Dramatic much? It was kale…and it was soo good. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never hated kale salads but they were always just meh to me. But this one loaded with interesting, healthy ingredients totally changed my mind. The only problem is that Chick-fil-A is not close to our house and as much as I love it, I don’t need all the fried chicken in my life.
In comes the Copycat Chick-fil-A Superfoods Salad. And I’m telling you guys, it tastes even better than the restaurant version, makes a huge batch and is way cheaper. If you haven’t had it before, this salad consists of kale, sweet and tart dried cranberries (or cherries), broccolini, toasted pecans and sunflower seeds (or whatever nuts you prefer). Once mixed, a simple maple vinaigrette is drizzled over and tossed into the salad. It’s tart and sweet, crisp from the kale and nuts and chewy from the dried cranberries. I love it so much and could eat the whole thing by myself. And speaking of eating it, my kids both loved it and if that doesn’t scream success, I don’t know what does.
I mixed the dressing over the whole batch of kale and broccolini but we didn’t end up eating the whole thing that night so I was worried it would get soggy and weird in the refrigerator but it was still crisp and tasty at lunch the next day. Just reserve the nuts and sprinkle just what you need the first day and store the remaining nuts in an airtight container on the counter until you eat the rest of it.
And now I’m going to get a little weird and insist that you massage your kale. Yep, you heard that right. After you chop or tear your kale into bite size pieces (making sure to remove the thick rib), place it in a big bowl and drizzle it with a small amount of olive oil (up to 1 tablespoon) and massage it for about 5 minutes until it shrinks and gets dark green and softens. The process of massaging breaks down the kale and gets rid of the bitterness.
I made a couple small changes to the salad due to personal preference and to make it a tad healthier. The salad at the restaurant uses candied walnuts and peanuts. I chose to use pecans and sunflower seeds because that’s what I personally prefer and I also chose not to candy them. I don’t think the extra sugar is necessary with the maple dressing and I didn’t miss it a bit. Use whatever nuts you have on hand or prefer here. The point is to add some good fat and crunch. Go wild.
This is officially my go to summer salad and I hope you guys love it just as much!
- 1 bunch kale, rib removed and torn into bite size pieces
- 1 bunch broccolini, chopped in small bite size pieces*
- 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup toasted nuts (I used a combination of pecans and sunflower seeds)
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
- For the dressing: combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk well. Store in an airtight container and shake well before using.
- Place kale and 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in a large bowl. Massage with both hands, rubbing together, for 5 minutes to break down the kale and get rid of the bitterness.
- Add broccolini, dried cranberries and nuts then stir to combine. Drizzle with half the dressing and toss to coat. Taste and add more dressing as desired. Reserve remaining dressing for later use.
- *If you can't find broccolini at your store, substitute one broccoli crown.