If you’ve spent a lot of time in Austin over the past two years, chances are you’ve spent at least a morning on the Swedish Hill’s sunny patio – preferably devouring a flaky croissant, sipping a parfait matcha latte, or by sliding into a piece of toasted sourdough bread stacked with smoked salmon and cucumbers. It’s just the kind of all-day cafe that I love for breakfast, lunch and dinner (did I mention their Roberta pizza with Fresno chili and hot honey?) And the vibe is just as good as the food. As much as I love sweets and copious amounts of coffee, so much to me there is one remarkable menu item that might come as a surprise. The Clarksville Crunch Salad (named after the neighborhood where the restaurant resides) is truly the best kale salad I’ve ever seen, with cauliflower, tahini vinaigrette and a satisfying mix of almonds and crunchy rice. taking this salad on top. This is just one of the many reasons I have included Swedish Hill in my guide to the best restaurants in Austin.
Being in California for the summer, I really miss my weekly fix of Clarksville Crunchy Salad, so I begged my friends at Swedish Hill to reverse the recipe so I could have my fix at home. Below, I’ve broken down the secrets to what makes the best kale salad so good – it’s simple, but each component plays a key role. The good news? The homemade version is just as good as the one I like at Swedish Hill. Now if only I could recreate this Snickerdoodle cookie that I love to finish it with! I’ll work on it then.
Scroll on for the best kale salad recipe you’ll want to make over and over again and the next-level tahini dressing you’ll want to eat with a spoon.
How to massage kale
If you haven’t started massaging kale, now is the time to get started. This really is the secret to the best kale salad because it makes kale tender, slightly sweet, and not at all chewy. Here’s how to do it:
- Place your chopped kale in a large bowl and sprinkle with a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt.
- Use your hands to vigorously massage the kale for about a minute. Yes, really get into it. The goal is to break down the fibers and make them more easily digestible. It also has the added benefit of making kale tastier and much more enjoyable.
- You’ll know the kale is ready to go when the leaves are shiny and its bulk is reduced a bit.
I showed this technique in action on my Instagram right here.
Then prepare the crunchies.
This salad is all about that crunch (hence the name), and IMHO, that’s what takes this kale salad to the next level. I love how this salad uses a combination of flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, all the bagel seasoning, and sliced almonds to give this salad a layered texture and flavor. Pro tip: Double the batch and store it in a mason jar in the freezer, and you’ll be ready to add instant chef vibes to any salad.
The best kale dressing is made with tahini.
Truth! When it comes to kale salads, dressing is everything. And at least here in the United States, tahini is an underused flavor power player – if you haven’t used it, you have to. So, what exactly is tahini? It is a Middle Eastern condiment made from ground and roasted sesame seeds. You’ve probably eaten it in hummus or baba ghanoush, and it makes a great dressing star, thanks to its nutty, complex and creamy flavor.
In Swedish Hill dressing, tahini is combined with olive oil, honey, dijon, lemon juice and lime zest for a sweet and sour, citrus and nutty combination that is downright addicting and really brings out the sweeter side of kale. I shake mine in a mason jar and keep it in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Now that you have the secrets to the best kale salad, scroll down to the recipe Swedish Hill so kindly shared with us. stop on your next trip to Austin, and in the meantime, you’ll want to make this kale salad recipe over and over again.