Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Kale Salad With Roasted Mushrooms, Pears, Torn Croutons and Blue Cheese #recipe by @LeslieBudewitz

LESLIE BUDEWITZ:  We love a good hearty salad, and as the weather gets colder, it’s great to have one that combines warm ingredients with the greens. This is an unusual combination, but we loved it and will definitely make it again. 

The original recipe calls for a pear or an apple. We loved the flavor the pear added. If I were to use an apple, I’d choose one with a mild flavor, like a Pink Lady. The strong flavor and bite of, say, a Granny Smith, would be too much. 

We usually have a bag in the freezer of leftover bread ends and slices, and typically turn them into seasoned croutons. I raided that bag for this dish, and breaking the toasts into croutons with my hands was great fun!

If you don’t like, or have, blue cheese, try Gorgonzola, which we used, goat cheese, or feta. I used a mix of button and crimini mushrooms, but others would be tasty, too. 

This salad pairs neatly with grilled chicken—we rubbed ours with a bit of olive oil and the Balsamic Chicken Blend from Red Stick Spice in Baton Rouge.

Kale Salad With Roasted Mushrooms, Pears, Torn Croutons and Blue Cheese

Adapted from the Washington Post

For the salad:

3 or 4 slices of crusty bread 

olive oil 

6 to 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced 

1 small red onion (3-4 ounces), roughly chopped 

table salt or kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

4-6 ounces curly green kale, thick stems and ribs removed, and chopped

For the dressing:

3 tablespoons apple cider or juice

2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

4 tablespoons olive oil 

For the top:

1 large pear or mild-flavored apple (5-6 ounces), sliced

3 ounces blue cheese, crumbled

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly brush the bread with olive oil and lay the slices on one side of a large, rimmed baking sheet. On the other side, lay the mushrooms and onions; add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and stir or toss, spreading in an even layer, then season with salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Roast for 15-20 minutes, or until the bread is toasted and the vegetables are soft and beginning to caramelize. (You may need to take the bread out a few minutes early.)

Meanwhile, in a large serving bowl, combine the chopped kale and a pinch of salt. Rub the salt into the kale with your hands for a minute or two. 

Make the dressing: Using a jar with a tightfitting lid, mix the cider, mustard, vinegar, and 4 tablespoons of oil. Shake to mix, and season with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. 

When the vegetables and bread are done, remove them from the oven. Immediately add the vegetables to the kale and stir, to allow the heat to wilt the kale a bit. When the bread is cool enough to handle, break it into rough croutons. Add croutons and pear or apple to the kale and vegetable mixture. Pour in 2/3 of the dressing and toss to coat. Sprinkle the cheese on top and serve family-style, with additional dressing on the side.

Serves 4-6. 

Wishing you a kale and hearty day!  

From the cover of BITTERROOT LAKE, written as Alicia Beckman (Crooked Lane Books; available in hardcover, ebook, and audio): 

When four women separated by tragedy reunite at a lakeside Montana lodge, murder forces them to confront everything they thought they knew about the terrifying accident that tore them apart, in Agatha Award-winning author Alicia Beckman's suspense debut.

Twenty-five years ago, during a celebratory weekend at historic Whitetail Lodge, Sarah McCaskill had a vision. A dream. A nightmare. When a young man was killed, Sarah's guilt over having ignored the warning in her dreams devastated her. Her friendships with her closest friends, and her sister, fell apart as she worked to build a new life in a new city. But she never stopped loving Whitetail Lodge on the shores of Bitterroot Lake.

Now that she's a young widow, her mother urges her to return to the lodge for healing. But when she arrives, she's greeted by an old friend--and by news of a murder that's clearly tied to that tragic day she'll never forget.

And the dreams are back, too. What dangers are they warning of this time? As Sarah and her friends dig into the history of the lodge and the McCaskill family, they uncover a legacy of secrets and make a discovery that gives a chilling new meaning to the dreams. Now, they can no longer ignore the ominous portents from the past that point to a danger more present than any of them could know.

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries, and the winner of Agatha Awards in three categories. Death al Dente, the first Food Lovers' Village Mystery, won Best First Novel in 2013, following her 2011 win in Best Nonfiction. Her first historical short story, "All God's Sparrows," won the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Short Story. Watch for her first standalone suspense novel, Bitterroot Lake (written as Alicia Beckman) in April 2021 from Crooked Lane Books.

A past president of Sisters in Crime and a current board member of Mystery Writers of America, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat, an avid bird-watcher.

Swing by her website and subscribe to her seasonal newsletter, for a chat about the writing life, what she's working on, and  what she's reading -- and a free short story. And join her on Facebook where she shares book news and giveaways from her writer friends, and talks about food, mysteries, and the things that inspire her.


  1. I've resisted that magical green, kale, now for several years but this salad sounds like something I should try. I like the idea of the pear slices and the roasted mushrooms because it reminds me of a few Asian recipes I've been considering. Thanks for sharing! I started As the Christmas Cookie Crumbles & am enjoying it!

    1. I was late to the kale craze, too, but it turns out we love it -- I've posted several kale recipes here. So glad you're enjoying the trip to Montana for the holidays -- on the page!

  2. This sounds like a clever combination.
    I gather the trick with raw kale is to massage it well with salt to soften it.
    We love cooked kale, on it's own (with some onion sautéed along with it), or in soups.

    1. Exactly. I was a bit skeptical, but that did do the trick, and adding the warm vegetables helped wilt it a little more. We love it cooked, too -- I've shared several kale recipes here over the years. And it does work well in soup, doesn't it?