Baby Kale Salad with Bacon, Blue Cheese, and Cranberries

Baby Kale Salad with Bacon, Blue Cheese, and Cranberries is hearty salad, tossed in a balsamic maple vinaigrette.   It’s sweet, savory, and completely addicting!

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As I told you last week, my kids are back in school.  It was a fun summer, but I’m eager to get back to the grind here at FTM.  I did just enough with the blog to stay afloat over the summer posting 2 recipes a week, because my typical 3 posts would have made everyone in my family suffer!  It was nice taking the time off, but trying to get the creative juices flowing to create more recipes so I can stay ahead of game the way I like to be is tough.

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Lucky for me, I did get plenty of inspiration when I was out of town through the usual channels — food magazines, cookbooks, other blogs that I follow, and one of the best ways is eating out in restaurants.  Sometimes just scouring the menu at a restaurant gets the old wheels turning, and I make notes on my phone, which can be annoying to anyone sitting with me at the table. 😉

This Baby Kale Salad with Bacon, Blue Cheese, and Cranberries was inspired by a salad I had in one of our summer stops in Truckee, CA.  We go up to Truckee every year, and being the coffee lover that I am, I look forward to hitting Wild Cherries Coffee House where they have the best coffee, and great food, too.

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On our way out of town, I grabbed the kale salad at Wild Cherries, and loved it.  It had a caesar dressing and was considerably different than this one here, but I tailored this toward what I had in my pantry and fridge.

Kale salads are always right up there with my favorites  — I love the hearty greens!  While I love using dinosaur and other kale varieties, they may be too bitter for some.  If you’re one of those people, baby kale is the thing for your.  The leaves are more delicate, and there’s less bitterness, but they’re still nice and hearty!

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This salad is so addicting because it has all of the elements — sweet, savory, crunchy, chewy, and plenty of umami from the bacon and blue cheese.  Add a tangy balsamic vinaigrette with a hint of maple syrup, and you’ve got yourself a salad you won’t be walking away from any time soon.

This salad is great as-is, but if you want to make it more of a meal, it would be great served up with some grilled chicken or steak.  It will also be phenomenal for holidays and dinner parties because it’s a stand-out!  Isn’t it sad that I’m already thinking out holidays?  I am, and I can tell you right now, this salad will be part of my holidays in some form.

And many other days in between. 🙂

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Baby Kale Salad with Bacon, Blue Cheese, and Cranberries
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Baby Kale Salad with Bacon, Blue Cheese, and Cranberries is hearty salad, tossed in a balsamic maple vinaigrette. It's sweet, savory, and completely addicting!
Author:
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
For the vinaigrette:
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
For the salad:
  • 5 ounces baby kale
  • 4 slices of crumbled bacon, cooked according to package instructions
  • ½ cup crumbled blue cheese (such as Castello)
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup pecan pieces, toasted*
  • ⅓ cup chopped red onion
Instructions
Prepare the vinaigrette:
  1. Place the vinegar, maple syrup, mustard, and salt and pepper in a medium bowl and whisk until combined. Add the olive oil to the vinegar mixture while whisking constantly until emulsified. Set aside.
Prepare the salad:
  1. Place the kale, bacon, blue cheese, cranberries, pecans, and red onion in a large bowl. Toss with the desired amount of vinaigrette, being careful not to overdress. Serve immediately, and enjoy!
Notes
Although baby kale leaves are fairly sturdy and won't wilt as easily, this salad is best when dressed right before serving.
Cooking time includes toasting the pecans and cooking the bacon simultaneously.
*I used pre-toasted pecan pieces from Trader Joe's. If you need to toast your own, place the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes or until fragrant.
Recipe by Flavor the Moments.