Winter Kale Salad


Yesterday was uncharacteristically warm, topping off at over 60 degrees with tons of sunshine and practically no wind. Given that D.C. has been in the 20s and 30s since Inauguration weekend, this random burst of warmth was quite welcome. I wore a dress for the first time in ages and gave my wool coat a break as I opted for a vest.

Don’t get me wrong; I love cold weather. But cold winter days have a tendency to put me in a rut, both wardrobe-wise and foodwise. Not only do I pile on layer upon layer of sweaters and coats, but I also feel like I need hearty, filling food to cope with the season. The problem is that most comfort food consists of rich stews, roasted chickens, and lentil- or bean-filled chili or soup. Needless to say, one gets really sick of eating the “brown” food group most of the time, and yesterday’s weather was the perfect reason to break this habit.

I tried to stick to winter-friendly ingredients–things that you can find in plentitude during the cold season. The crunchy kale pairs well with the bold flavor of blood oranges and the sometimes sharp bites of fennel. Plus, combining blood orange juice with sherry vinaigrette produces a dressing with the perfect amount of tang. And–personal health plug–this salad is packed with vitamins and antioxidants. Total win.

So here’s to incorporating color into your winter menu. Happy eating.

** Side note: I’ll post the promised Smitten Kitchen side dish on Friday. I just thought the weather called for a salad post!

Winter Kale Salad
As always, I just used what I had. This would taste delicious with some feta instead of pecorino or with some prosciutto for added protein. 


  • 3 cups kale, washed, dried, and torn into fork-friendly pieces
  • ¼ bulb fennel, thinly sliced
  • 2 blood oranges
  • ¼ cup candied walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated pecorino
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Coarse salt and ground black pepper to taste


  • First, prepare your oranges. Using a knife, slice off the skin and pith (the white part) of the blood oranges. Slice 1½ oranges into thin rounds. 
  • Next, make your vinaigrette: Squeeze the juice from the remaining half blood orange into a small jar (or a small bowl if you intend to whisk your dressing). Add the sherry vinegar, olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Close the jar and shake until combine (or whisk until emulsified). Set aside.
  • Arrange the kale leaves on a large plate. Top with blood oranges, fennel, candied walnuts. Sprinkle the pecorino on top. Give the dressing another shake in the jar or whisk and pour on top.

Serves one.



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