Cracking the kale code

It’s a challenge to try to replicate my favorite foods from restaurants.

Finished remarkable Kale Caesar Salad. —Connie Berry

Weekend before last, I was in a mood. I didn’t want to exert myself in any way whatsoever, and that included cooking. I’ve been experimenting with online food delivery services, not takeout but the meal-planning variety. First, I signed up for Thrive a few months ago and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the gluten-free options. Then Stop & Shop came along and expanded so I can now buy frozen gluten-free fried pickles anytime I want. And gluten-free frozen donuts. And gluten-free pizza that actually tastes good. And that’s only one aisle. My last Thrive order consisted mostly of lightly salted cashews and something called “Unreal Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups.”

A few weeks ago I found the Hungryroot website, enticed by the survey-type thing you go through that steers your order towards foods that are anti-inflammatory or low sugar or gluten-free or any other dietary goal you might have in mind. The site kept popping up on my Facebook feed, letting the internet do its job. It led me right to the site, where I decided to spend money trying it out. My first order was spectacular. It included everything you needed to make three tasty dinner recipes, heavy on veggies but also including sauces and fajita-flavored ground chicken. There’s a recipe for each dish, and true to my usual self, I was pretty happy to find that the portions they send really do feed four people. I thought for sure they would be on the skimpy side, but I was wrong. By the time the second order arrived, I was panicked because I hadn’t quite finished cooking up the previous delivery items. If there’s one thing I do not need in my life, it’s more anxiety. I’m considering canceling Hungryroot now just because the packages of precooked quinoa and the rainbow mixed vegetables still in my fridge are making me uneasy.

There’s a silver lining to all this online experimentation. With my first Thrive order came a cookbook titled “Healthy Living Made Easy.” Who doesn’t love a free cookbook? That may be the highlight of this entire process. I thumbed through the pages and found a recipe for Kale Caesar Salad.

If you know me at all, you know I’m probably the best customer in the universe at Mo’s Lunch. I order from their takeout menu at least once a week, and there isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t order Mo’s kale Caesar. I’m completely smitten with it. That and the jambon beurre, which I believe translates to ham butter sandwich or something like that. Anyway, as I read this recipe I thought to myself, “OMG. This is the closest thing to Mo’s kale salad that I’ve ever seen.” I proceeded to buy the ingredients at the aforementioned Stop & Shop so that I could try this one out for myself. I didn’t buy avocados mostly because the last batch I bought got too soft and I find the older I get the more my mother’s saying “waste not, want not” runs through my head. I had almost everything else on hand anyway, which ups my love of any new recipe considerably. And, I feel like I mimicked one of my favorite restaurant dishes as closely as I possibly could. I can’t advise you to try this recipe strongly enough. It was all I imagined and more. And it was easy. Don’t let using the food processor hold you back. My food processor is brand new and I still don’t know how to use it, so I went with the blender instead and it worked out fine. The added croutons are my own touch. Because why not?

Kale Caesar Salad


2 bunches of Tuscan kale, stalks removed and leaves sliced or torn into pieces (I used curly kale and it worked out fine)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Large pinch of sea salt (I used kosher salt)
4 strips bacon cooked until crispy (I didn’t use bacon and it was fine)
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced (Also did not use and it was fine)
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast


1 2-oz. tin or 7 or 8 anchovy filets, drained
2 cloves garlic
3 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
½ tsp. Dijon mustard (I used a teaspoon because I love mustard)
Juice of one and a half lemons
¼ cup mayonnaise
Ground pepper to taste

First, massage the kale: Place the kale leaves in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of salt. Massage the kale for about 3 minutes. The leaves will shrink a little and appear darker in color.

Next, make the dressing: Place all the ingredients except the pepper in the bowl of a small food processor. Process until smooth and season to taste with pepper.

Assemble the salad: Drizzle the dressing over the kale and toss. Top the dressed salad with crumbled bacon, avocado, red onion, and the tablespoon of nutritional yeast.