There was a time you couldn’t escape cabbage. It was on television, on billboards, in your smoothies, and stuck in your teeth. And as we kick off the new year, this leafy green is once again the focus of the grocery store.
Kale gave me a hard time. I thought it was rough, sandy, and my jaw would start hurting after three chews. But now I know better. Now I know the importance of massaging cabbage, which makes it more tender and digestible. I know its nutritional value. And now I know there’s nothing better than a kale Caesar salad.
My version has a wintery twist: squash and Brussels sprouts. The addition of the delicate pumpkin makes this salad feel like a warm hug after a long day, the nuggets provide a crunch, and the crunchy brussel sprouts add fiber and flavor — who doesn’t love this combination? The recipe below calls for butternut squash, but you could easily use mild squash.
One of my New Year’s resolutions was no longer dry, tasteless chicken. With that in mind, I learned another trick that changed the way I make chicken forever. I cook the chicken with the simplest Caesar dressing. I have found that it makes the meat tender and adds a lot of flavor.
I admit it: a little cabbage can go a long way. I mix it with romaine lettuce to get a balance of textures and all the green goodness. Since we don’t use tender greens like bibb lettuce or spring mix, the salad can be made earlier in the day and chilled – by dinnertime, all you need to do is mix in the dressing!
It’s easy to throw together, uses ingredients you probably already have in their pantry, and is light enough that you won’t feel sluggish after your meal. You can make it for a dinner party, take it to a potluck, or make a giant bowl for yourself as you binge on both seasons of ‘The White Lotus’and manifest in Hawaii or Sicily in 2023.
Winter Kale Chicken Caesar Salad
For the salad:
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 head of Tuscan cabbage
1 head of romaine lettuce
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
½ pound brussels sprouts, halved
½ cup of kibble
For the seasoning
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup of mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Worcestershire or soy sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 anchovy fillets in oil or 1 teaspoon of anchovy paste
Two cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons of finely grated Parmesan
Preheat oven to 425°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place squash cubes on foil and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir to coat and spread evenly on baking sheet. Roast for 35-40 minutes, or until tender and browned around the edges. When halved, add the halved Brussels sprouts to the same roasting pan and drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Depending on the oven, a longer toasting time may be required.
Make the Caesar dressing: Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until creamy.
Heat oven to below 350. Line a baking sheet with foil. With the back of a spoon, coat the chicken breasts with a tablespoon of the Caesar dressing. Top with the Panko breadcrumbs. Cook for 30 minutes. Remove and cut into small pieces.
Chop or tear the cabbage into small pieces and gently rub the cabbage with your hands.
Assemble the salad with the kale, romaine, and roasted squash. Drizzle with ⅓ of the dressing, toss lightly, then add the chicken and nuggets. Mix with the rest of the dressing and serve.