It’s been just more than two years since I spent 12 months living in mid-coast Maine with my family. The highlight reel of that adventure is long, but a few favorite memories stand out: meeting new friends, getting back into the work arena (I began contributing to Puddingstone Post then), and wandering through Maine’s charming, sleepy towns.
The state may be known for it’s lobster, wild blueberries, and handcrafted beer, but it also has an amazing culinary tradition. And some of my favorite dishes – including the Caesar salad recipe here – were found at Local Market in Brunswick. I happened into the shop by accident, after a day of browsing through the town’s multiple antique stores and clothing boutiques. In search of any old latte to fuel my ride home, I unexpectedly discovered my dream shop – a carefully curated market with great wines, gourmet food, and local produce, plus kitchen wares to die for (think Weck jars, stainless-steel coffee presses, eco-friendly lunch boxes). The deli offered delicious soups, salads, and sandwiches that were heavy on the veggies. My basket couldn’t hold all the stuff I wanted to bring home.
Of all the things I purchased that day, it was the kale and parmesan salad that left the biggest impression. Tossed with toasted almonds and sweetened with Medjool dates, it was salty, tangy, and crunchy – kind of like a Caesar salad, but way healthier. (This was during the height of the kale craze, of course.) I’m ashamed to admit that before my fist bite I didn’t think the dates would work, but as I devoured the superfood salad, I realized the combination was so good.
I returned to that shop many more times, and also began recreating the salad at home. I experimented with different olive oils and parmesans, and eventually came up with the recipe here. If you’re ever in Brunswick, I highly recommend a trip to Local Market. Luckily, though, you don’t have to go to Maine to enjoy this wonderful dish.
Healthy kale Caesar salad with almonds, dates, and parmesan
5 cups of kale, torn into bite size pieces
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/2 cup good quality Parmigiano Regiano cheese, grated
1/3 cup olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon anchovy paste
1/3 cup Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
salt to taste
Wash and dry the kale before placing it in a large salad bowl. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over the kale. Add a pinch of salt and, with your hands, massage the oil into the kale leaves, which will help soften them. Add in the chopped dates and set aside.
Next, in a dry skillet, over medium-low heat, toast the slivered almonds for about five minutes, stirring occasionally so that all sides become evenly toasted. Be careful not to let them burn. Set the almonds aside to cool.
In a small glass bowl or measuring cup, whisk together 1 cup of olive oil, the lemon juice, and anchovy paste.
Add the parmesan cheese and almonds to the kale. Dress with the lemon and olive oil dressing and toss to coat. Enjoy immediately or cover and refrigerate to use within 24 hours.