That’s it. I am officially declaring black garlic the ingredient of 2014. The momentum behind this ingredient has picked up over the last year and I’m telling you – it’s going to explode in 2014. After holding out for so long, I finally bought some and started experimenting. It’s amazing. Because black garlic is basically regular garlic that has been fermented, the flavors are soft, caramelized, and complex. Sub this for regular garlic and your dishes instantly rise a few notches on the fanciness scale.

That’s exactly what we’re doing with this kale salad. It’s just a few ingredients and a few minutes of cooking, but the rich black garlic is simmered with acidic vinegar and tart berries for a very deep flavor profile. The garlic deserves all the credit, but you can let people think it was your culinary expertise that made this magic happen. I can keep a secret if you can…

I originally shared this recipe with Dianna over at Chard In Charge. In addition to having by far the most awesome name in the history of food blogs, she creates some pretty amazing recipes too. Last week, she featured me in an interview where I share my original inspirations for cooking and more. If you’ve always wondered what vegetable I’d most like to become, read the interview on Chard in Charge.

Black Garlic

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup sliced fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds or walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons sliced black garlic
  • 2 cups chopped kale
  • Avocado slices (garnish)

Kale Salad Cranberry Dressing

Step One

Add the sliced cranberries, sliced nuts and garlic to a saucepan with balsamic vinegar and a drizzle of maple syrup. Allow to simmer over medium heat until the cranberries soften, about 7-10 minutes. If the mixture reduces too much, add a splash of warm water or another tablespoon of vinegar.

Step Two

Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Pour the dressing over 2 cups of chopped kale in a large bowl. Use your hands to massage the dressing into the kale leaves.

Massaging, in fact, is very beneficial for kale. With a quick 5-minute rubdown, this leafy green shrinks in size and becomes darker. The flavors soften and gain complexity. If you’d like to read more about kale’s cellulose-breakdown that happens through massaging (I mean, who wouldn’t?), check out this article from LA Times.

Step Three

Split the salad into serving bowls and top with curls of avocado. You could use simple avocado slices, but curls are so much more fun: simply cut an avocado in half and use a spoon to scrape a thin layer off the top of the open face and it will curl into a semi-circle that works perfect in salads. Serve immediately at room temperature.

Kale Salad

Black Garlic Kale Salad