COOK CLUB: Buffalo chicken kale salad brings the heat without breaking a sweat

Make a salad, turn it inside out as a wrap

cooking, Food, Food & Drink,
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June 12, 2014 | 9:57 am

Summer presents a conundrum. It’s a season for getting together with friends, parties, potlucks and picnics. Unless you always volunteer to bring the chips or buns, there’s plenty of opportunities to cook for a crowd.

As the temperatures outside rise, though, the last thing we want to do is make the air conditioner work even harder by turning on the oven.

Therein lies the appeal of grilling. Cook without turning the kitchen into an oven.

Grilling, though, has its limitations. Generally speaking, you can’t pack a grill for a family picnic at the park.

Enter this month’s Gazette KCRG-TV9 Cook Club recipe — Citrus Buffalo Chicken Kale Salad.

It brings the heat, without breaking a sweat.

Veggie-filled green salads are great for summer entertaining. They travel and share well. Throw in a sturdy green like kale and instead of wilting upon contact with dressing, time actually improves the dish.

This month’s recipe features a salad that takes a favorite potluck flavor — buffalo chicken — and subtracts the butter (in the case of wings) or ranch dressing and cream cheese (in the case of the ever popular buffalo chicken dip) and adds plenty of vegetables.

Hearty kale provides the base. Carrots and caramelized red onions offer sweet contrast to the spice of the pepper sauce. Optional toppings like tomatoes and blue cheese add another burst of sweet and salty, respectively.

Douse it all with a simple dressing of more hot pepper sauce, orange juice and olive oil and you have a salad that can come together in under 30 minutes. Perfect for that last minute summer soiree.

If you use a harried cook’s go-to shortcut, the rotisserie chicken, the only cooking you’ll do is to caramelize the onions.

As opposed to the past two Cook Club recipes, which turned up the heat for a quick stir fry and saute, this time we use the saute pan on a low heat for a slow saute. Cooking the onions low and slow brings out their natural sweetness.

As long as the oil is hot before you add the onions and the heat is low, the onions actually benefit from being ignored while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

This recipe also lends itself well to a wrap. Instead of shredding the kale and mixing it all up, use the kale like a tortilla or flatbread. Layer ingredients inside one of the leaves and roll it up., using the techniques suggested by Hy-Vee Dietitian Kimberly Proctor on this week’s KCRG midday with Hy-Vee.

So you can leave the plastic flatware at home. We suggest you don’t forgo the napkins, though.

Citrus Buffalo Chicken Kale Salad

Serves 2 to 4 as main, 4 to 6 as side

1/2 red onion, sliced thin

olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1 head kale, approximately 7 to 8 large leaves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup shredded chicken (leftover, rotisserie or from chicken breast)

2 tablespoons pepper sauce (such as Frank’s Red Hot Sauce)

1 carrot, large

Grape tomatoes, optional

Blue cheese crumbles, optional

DRESSING

1 tablespoon hot sauce

1 tablespoon orange juice

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

Cover surface of small frying pan (cast iron works best) with olive oil. Heat over medium high until oil pops. Meanwhile, slice red onion thinly. Add onion to pan in single layer; salt and pepper to taste. Turn to low, checking occasionally.

While onions caramelize, prepare remaining ingredients.

Remove stem from kale and tear into bite-size pieces. Wash and remove excess water in a salad spinner. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt; massage salt into kale until leaves turn darker green and start to wilt. Pour into serving bowl and set aside.

Shred chicken, stir in 2 tablespoons hot sauce, add to kale.

Peel carrot. Discard peel. Continue to use peeler to create ribbons of carrot. You also can use a julienne peeler. Add to kale.

If using, cut grape tomatoes into quarters. Once onions are a deep brown, soft and crispy in spots, remove from pan and add to kale. Top with tomatoes and blue cheese if desired.

For the dressing, add hot sauce, orange juice and olive oil to bowl, whisk together to combine. Pour over salad, stir to combine.

Source: Carly Weber for Gazette KCRG-TV9 Cook Club

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