This dish has a two-part story:
Part 1. The Misfit Restaurant
When I moved to LA four years ago, I got a job at a fun, busy restaurant and bar in downtown Santa Monica. I soon had great friends and a busy schedule slinging drinks and hefting heavy plates. The kitchen was on the upper level, so my nights consisted of seven hours of running stairs, dripping sweat, and laughing with my dimly lit tables as I tried to up their liquor tab. It was a blast, and very hard work.
One of the dishes the restaurant was known for was its kale salad. This was when kale was really gaining momentum and so everyone ordered one. It was the first time I’d ever really eaten kale and liked it. I got to the point where I’d crave that kale salad and nothing would satisfy me more at the end of a long night than that crunchy, salty goodness with pops of sweetness. Now, their recipe has about nine ingredients—with the dressing, most of which, on any given day, I just don’t have in my fridge. Mine has four, and all of them can be interchanged with your personal favorites, all you need are a nut/seed, dried fruit, cheese, and chopped kale. And of course, my mom’s magic salad dressing.
Part 2. Cathy’s Famous Salad Dressing
Growing up, my mom always made a green salad with our dinner, regardless of the dish: Mexican with salad, Pizza with salad, Soup with salad, Pot Pie with salad, etc. And we always cleaned out that bowl because she made this addicting dressing that was tangy and sweet, and honestly has spoiled me in the salad dressing department. It was so good, that kids, who refused to eat any greens, would eat her salad. She would give bottles of it to family friends; everyone loved Cathy Ritter’s Salad Dressing.
So here’s how you make 2 heaping portions of the best kale salad with the tastiest salad dressing:
4-5 Curly Kale Leaves
¼ cup Salted Sunflower Seeds
1/3 cup Dried Cherries, unsweetened
¼ Parmesan Cheese, grated
2 tablespoons Seasoned Rice Wine Vinegar
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Garlic clove, finely chopped
¼ scant teaspoon Agave (you basically just need two drops, a little goes a long way)
Start by really washing your kale, I’ve never been a fan of gritty salad. Grab the leaves and pull the stalk out, we won’t be eating that, it’s a little tough. Rinse in a salad spinner and chop horizontally on a cutting board until it is in thin strips. I work in batches otherwise I end up with kale bits everywhere. I usually roughly chop my cherries as well, they can be kind of big, and I like their tart sweetness in every bite. Add those to the bowl along with the sunflower seeds and cheese. (I also use Trader Joes Unexpected Cheddar, which is a mix of cheddar and Parmesan; it’s awesome in this salad.)
Now for the dressing, combine all ingredients in a small jar or Tupperware and shake really, really well over the sink—just in case. I think the salad is best after it has marinated in the dressing for about ten minutes, the kale won’t get soggy.
Enjoy! Misfits for life.