Monday, August 3, 2015

Kale and Barley Salad with Spicy Candied Nuts

What do you do when you have 6 lbs of dried cranberries leftover from a cranberry muffin recipe development assignment?

You make kale salad. 

Salad recipes are often just "this combination tastes good together!" But you, dear reader, are getting a two-for-one deal: one recipe for the salad itself and one for the candied nuts. The nuts are kind of a pain in the ass to make, but taste totally worth it. If you don't feel like making them, just use store-bought honey-roasted whatever.

This is an excellent salad to bring to an outdoor picnic or a potluck since it doesn't need to be served cold. It's actually best eaten slightly cooler than room temperature. Kale also doesn't wilt like other salad greens, and the barley soaks up the vinaigrette so you're not left with a watery mess over time.

Kale and Barley Salad with Spicy Candied Nuts

Cooking Time
15 minutes or about 1 hour if you're making the nuts


3 (maybe 4) people who need a good jaw workout

Baking sheet
Silpat or other heatproof lining
Chef's knife and cutting board
Large skillet

1 tablespoon canola oil
1/3 cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1/2 cup raw almonds
3/4 cup raw pecans
Kosher or sea salt
1 sprig rosemary, leaves picked from stem
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, finely grated
Black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Maldon salt

1 cup barley
Kosher or sea salt
10 oz. Tuscan kale, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey 
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Black pepper
3 scallion whites, very thinly sliced
2/3 cup dried cranberries

For the nuts:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Heat canola oil in skillet over medium heat. Add pepitas, almonds, and pecans and season lightly with salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until aromatic and just starting to brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in rosemary and transfer to Silpat-lined baking sheet. Transfer to oven and cook until nuts are thoroughly roasted all the way through, about 15 minutes (taste one to check). Remove from oven and reduce oven temperature to 225 degrees.

3. Wipe skillet clean with paper towels. Add sugar, cinnamon, cumin, red pepper flakes, garlic, and 1/2 cup cool water and season lightly with pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until a thick caramel has formed, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in nuts.

4. Spread caramel-coated nuts on Silpat-lined baking sheet and return to oven. Cook until caramel is very thick and only slightly runny, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle nuts with Maldon salt, and let cool before using.

For the salad:
1. Cook barley in boiling salted water until al dente, about 15 minutes. Drain thoroughly and rinse with cold water until cool to the touch.

2. Massage kale in mixing bowl with your hands until bruised and soft, about 1 minute.

3. Whisk together mustard, honey, and vinegar in small mixing bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in olive oil to form an emulsified vinaigrette. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

4. Toss together kale, vinaigrette, scallions, cranberries, and cooled barley. Taste and adjust seasoning. Garnish with nuts (we add all but 1/2 cup and nom the rest).

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