This is that salad–the one I can eat several times a week and never tire of. It somehow manages to perfectly balance the hardy structure of the kale with the silkiness of the spinach, and the chewiness of the cranberries with the toasted crunch and nuttiness of the pumpkin seeds, all with the perfect combination of sweet and salty.
I also love knowing that everything in this salad packs serious nutritional punch! Low calorie, high fiber kale for Isothiocyanates (ITCs) made from glucosinolates, which help lower the risk of several major types of cancer, and 45 different flavonoids for antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, and the list goes on. Pumpkin seeds for heart healthy magnesium, immune boosting zinc and tryptophan for more restful sleep. Cranberries for Vitamin C, fiber and manganese as well as proanthocyanidins (PACs) for helping prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs) and protecting against certain types of stomach ulcers. And spinach for niacin and zinc, fiber, vitamins A, C, E and K and a host of minerals. I know that if you’re a vegan or purest, you will likely take issue with the cheese, but I consider it a key component of this recipe, so let me know if you know of a vegan manchego cheese!!
I also appreciate how this salad can be made a little in advance, and still tastes great. If anything, the spinach and kale get even softer and more delicious when allowed to react longer with the dressing.
I hope you love this salad as much as I do!
(listed per person in case you’re just wanting a salad for yourself for lunch)
3 leaves dino kale, washed and ribs removed
1 large handful baby spinach
3 tbsp raw pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup dried cranberries
3 tbsp aged manchego cheese, sliced into little “sticks” or shaved*
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp good quality Sherry vinegar
1/2 tsp honey
*I like a 12-month aged manchego made from raw sheep’s milk.
Place the pumpkin seeds in a small oven-proof baking dish or ramekin and toast for 10-12 minutes or until you hear the seeds “popping.” Remove and let cool.
Meanwhile, whisk the olive oil, honey and vinegar in a medium-size bowl until completely blended. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Slice the kale leaves into roughly 1/4-inch strips and add to the dressing. Toss to coat. Roughly chop the baby spinach leaves and add to the kale, tossing to coat. Add in the cranberries, seeds and manchego, toss, adjust seasoning to taste and serve.