My husband is unafraid to share that he does not like kale.
In fact, he wants you to know that he does not like kale.
The more popular it becomes, the more adamant he is: Kale has no place on his plate.
So when I told him mid-dinner prep that we would be having kale salad for dinner (yes, there’s kale in it; yes, it’s a main ingredient), he was unimpressed.
Even as I explained that there was also BACON and CHICKEN and BACON CROUTONS and that the kale would be sautéed in the bacon fat, the look of impending disappointment loomed.
I should tell you that he is understandably wary of me employing faddy ingredients or any sort of health trend: I am still trying to live down the lentil loaf of 2015.
But, as a kale lover and self-appointed vegetable advocate, I’ve been working to get Husband on Team Kale.
Spouses should be on the same page kale-wise, you know?
So we had kale salad for dinner. Husband ate a bowl. He went back for seconds. He went back for thirds. AND THEN HE REQUESTED WE HAVE KALE SALAD THE NEXT NIGHT.
I will admit that there are a lot of wrong ways to do kale. This is not one of them.
This isn’t an I’m-eating-kale-because-it’s-good-for-me meal, this is an I’m-eating-kale-because-it’s-GOOD meal.
First, there’s bacon: A respectable way to start any dish. You cook it until it’s crispy and all of its bacony fat is rendered.
Then you toss hunks of bread in the bacon fat and brown them up to make bacon croutons! These probably deserve their very own post because they are - and I have no hesitation in saying this - LIFE CHANGING. (As a side-note, we have also been using these as an alternative to breadcrumbs on our mac and cheese and I highly recommend it.)
Then there’s the chicken. Browned and crisp and garlicky chicken that is cooked in what’s left of the bacon fat after crouton-making.
Then it’s time for the star of the show: the kale! It goes in the skillet right after you’ve deglazed all the bacon and garlicky chicken bits off the bottom, and gets tossed around with some lemon juice until it’s bright green and just a little bit wilted.
I know it sounds maybe kind of wild to cook kale for a salad, but the cooking of the kale is key! Raw kale is fibrous and bland. Giving it a quick saute makes it flavorful and much more chewable.
And in this case it gets bacon-y, too.
Then the lemony kale and the crispy bacon get tossed together with tomatoes and green onions and shredded parmesan, and topped with sliced chicken and bacon croutons (assuming you haven’t sampled all of the croutons by this point. Who knew self-control would need to be so heavily exercised with kale salad?).
Then you serve it to the kale-haters in your life and watch them become kale-lovers!
Kale Salad with Bacon Croutons
- 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup sliced green onions
- 8 ounces bacon, diced
- 3 slices white bread, crust removed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 12 cups packed chopped kale
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan
Place tomatoes and onions in a large bowl. Set aside.
Place a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until fat is rendered and bacon pieces are crisp - about 20 minutes. Remove bacon to the bowl with the tomatoes and onions with a slotted spoon, reserving as much bacon fat in the pan as possible. Set aside.
Add bread cubes to the pan of bacon fat and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp - about 8 minutes. Transfer croutons to a plate and set aside.
Increase heat to medium and add olive oil to skillet. Cut chicken in half lengthwise and blot dry with paper towels. Sprinkle all sides with the salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Place in pan and cook 6-8 minutes per side, until browned and crisp. Add 1/2 cup water to pan and cover. Continue cooking over medium heat until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken reads 165 degrees, about 5 minutes. Remove chicken to cutting board and set aside.
Reduce heat to low. Add kale and lemon juice to skillet and toss to coat in the residual liquid. Cook 2-3 minutes, tossing constantly, until kale turns bright green and softens slightly. Remove to the bowl with the bacon, onion, and tomato. Add the parmesan and toss to combine. Slice chicken into thin strips. Serve salad immediately, topped with sliced chicken and bacon croutons.