Last year I worked at a restaurant called Acre (and I highly recommend them for anyone who finds themselves in the Columbus area: acretogo.com). My favorite thing on their menu is their Kale Caesar Salad, but I add their Cumin Vinaigrette instead of their Caesar dressing. I regularly get cravings for this salad, but now that I don’t get complimentary meals there I can’t eat it as often as I want! So I set out to make my own Cumin Vinaigrette.
I pulled (and slightly adapted) this recipe from a Chickpea Salad recipe on SeriousEats.com (see the original recipe here!). I plan to someday try to make that salad, but this time I was only concerned with making my Kale Salad with Cumin Vinaigrette! I used this recipe as I was preparing to make dinner for my friends Nate and Nathan. I made delicious chicken salad sandwiches for dinner too! I attempted to make my favorite bread for dinner but I used old yeast and it didn’t rise! Instead, we turned the bread into delicious croutons! For dessert we had no-bake cookies, our favorite standby dessert 🙂
When I first made the recipe it tasted like straight-up olive oil, and I was so disappointed! However, after sitting in the refrigerator for 24 hours it tasted almost as good as the original! The taste is close enough that I am satisfied for now, and I definitely plan to make this dressing again. The recipe made almost a full mason jar of dressing, and I’ve been eating kale salad a lot in the past couple weeks. Since kale is a pretty hardy leaf, I also started putting kale in a mason jar and then pouring some dressing on top and shaking it up when I was ready for lunch (this was a super convenient way to pack my lunch for the day!).
The recipe is very easy, the only thing is you need a way to grind up the cumin and black peppercorn. My roommate happens to have a mortar and pestle, but if you don’t have one you can dry grinding them in a coffee grinder, rolling over them with a rolling pin or wine bottle, or smashing them with the bottom of a water glass or mug! Because of the original strong olive oil taste, I considered replacing part of the olive oil with canola oil when I make it the next time. I know a lot of restaurants do this because canola oil doesn’t have the same strong taste as olive oil. But the original recipe works fine after sitting for a while!
A refreshing, simple, and nutritious kale salad
Toast the cumin seeds and peppercorns over medium heat until they become aromatic (about 5 minutes). Allow to cool, then grind them with a mortar and pestle, spice or coffee grinder, rolling pin or wine bottle, or a water glass or mug.
Heat a small amount of oil (not from the 1/2 cup you already measured) over medium heat with the garlic. Cook until soft (less than a minute), then add cumin, pepper, and oregano. Cook for another 1/2 minute.
Pour spice mixture into a mason jar, add the red wine vinegar, olive oil, and dijon mustard. Screw on the lid and shake to emulsify (you can also just pour everything into a bowl and whisk).
Wash the kale and shred it into bite-size strips. Let dry, toss with dressing or serve with dressing on the side. Top with croutons if you wish!
Cube stale bread, toss with olive oil to coat and your favorite seasonings (we used Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper!). Bake at 350°F for 10-15 minutes (take out when they are the desired crispness).
Bonus: toss some washed kale with olive oil and season with salt (or nutritional yeast), place on a baking sheet and bake while your croutons are baking. Yum! Kale chips!