My recent trip to Napa Valley was not only an inspiring culinary adventure, it was simply a beautiful experience overall. Napa has been on my and my husband’s list of places to visit for some time, and we’re so happy that our friends’ wedding was the catalyst to finally get us out there (thanks Cathy and Steve)!
Travel offers so many benefits, the least of which is seeing ways of life different from our own. It’s pretty easy to get wrapped up in our day-to-day happenings, seeing familiar faces and doing familiar tasks. But the thrill of looking forward to seeing a new place, then actually experiencing it, is incomparable. It still never ceases to amaze me that after only a relatively small amount of time, we can fly from one distinct place to another. We were able to travel across the country, at super speed, in mere hours! And every time I board a plane I think of comedian Louis C.K’s routine in which he’s simply shocked when folks complain about their flying experiences, like having to wait on the runway for a few minutes, a flight delay, or lack of peanuts. He responds by screaming “You’re sitting in a chair in the sky! You’re flying through the air like a bird! You’re partaking in the miracle of human flight!” It really is awesome.
Everyone we met in Napa was friendly, happy, gracious and service-focused. I guess it’s not unimaginable to think they would be, considering the fact that they live in a beautiful place, filled with inspiration at every turn, and the weather’s not bad, either. When it came to the food, I was like a kid in a candy store. Lush gardens and markets were everywhere, bursting with produce. Everything I tasted was fresh and at its peak of flavor. Combinations and textures were so creative, and presentations were just lovely. There were so many tasty dishes, but one that stood out was at a restaurant called R&D Kitchen, in Yountville. one day, after several hours of riding our bikes through one gorgeous vineyard after another in 90-degree heat, we were starving and ready to sit on something soft. I had read about this place’s amazing kale and cashew salad, so that’s what I ordered.
Now, I recognize that to some, the words ‘amazing’ and ‘kale’ don’t really jive. But I have to tell you, this salad was so delicious I wanted to LICK MY PLATE (which I did not, if you are curious). It was a bite-size, chopped salad of tender kale, parsley, cilantro, ever-so-thinly chopped cabbage, sliced scallions, salted cashews and toasted sesame seeds, all bathed in a delicious miso/soy/honey dressing. Even hubby kept asking for bites because he loved it so much. Now THAT’S an amazing kale salad.
When I got home, I was determined to re-create it. The miso-based dressing took some experimenting, but I think it’s very close to that inspiration salad — it’s so yummy that I bet it would be good on any other salad, for that matter. I hope you give it a try so you can have your own little taste of Napa Valley 🙂
- 2 c. lacinto (or curly) kale, thinly sliced
- large handful fresh parsley, chopped (about ½ c.)
- large handful fresh cilantro, chopped (about ½ c.)
- 6 scallions (white & green parts), thinly sliced
- ⅔ c. white cabbage, thinly chopped
- ½ c. lightly salted cashews, roughly chopped (plus some extra for topping/serving)
- 2 Tb. toasted sesame seeds
- 2 Tb. white miso
- 2 Tb. water
- 2 tsp. honey
- 1 Tb. rice wine vinegar
- 1 tsp. soy sauce
- 1 tsp. canola or peanut oil
- 1 tsp. sesame oil
- Dash kosher salt
- Slice (and chop, if pieces are too long) kale and place in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle in a little bit of olive oil then mix together with your fingers to ‘massage’ the kale for a minute or so. Let sit for about 10 minutes so the kale continues to soften.
- Prepare remaining salad ingredients and add to the kale bowl.
- Whisk all dressing ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Set aside until ready to combine with salad then serve immediately.
2) This salad would be extra tasty with some grilled chicken, shrimp or even steak.
3) This salad makes a perfect amount for 2 lunch or dinner salads, but could also serve 4 side portions.