Kale + Soft Lettuce Salad with Chickpeas, Radishes, Parm, and Many Seeds

WELP, WE MADE IT, Y'ALL. Winter was a thousand years, Spring was a sloppy five minutes, and Summer is upon us again. 

This time of year ordinarily stresses me out for reasons that remain hard to articulate. Theoretically, I love summer. The feeling of too-hot sun on my skin. The feeling of walking under a shaded grove of trees, like you've found the cool spot in the pool. (Finding the cool spot in the pool.) Ring tanlines. The way the road gets wavy in searing July heat. The road. Any road. Secret berry patches. Lakes, Great and small. Sand in weird places. The hum of air conditioning that says you've found reprieve. Very cold wine. Very cold kiddie pools. White t-shirts, torn jeans, cheap sunglasses. 

Summer is always doing THE MOST and honestly, I love her for it. 

Yet every year around this time I worry I won't be able to hold up my end of the bargain to drink it all in. Rise to the occasion. Milk it for all it's worth. Dance along in perfect step with summer's wild groove. It's exhausting just to think about.

So I don't know what it is about this year, but when the temps hit 70 and then 80, with no seasonal anxiety in sight to "get it right," I suspected that maybe I'd managed to greet summer with open arms and a glass in hand.

And since I'm everyone's Friendly Neighborhood Salad Kid year-round, but particularly in summer, this kaleidoscopic stunner is my gift to you and every cookout, potluck, picnic, and reunion you get roped into. It's all about texture and color here: wafer-thin slices of watermelon radish, deep emerald kale and soft green butter lettuce, the heft of some chickpeas, and the snap-crackle-pop of every seed you could think to put in your pantry, all bound together with lashings of olive oil and lemon and irregular bits of broken-up shaved parmesan. Like most of what I put up here, this recipe can be more of a blueprint: there's almost nothing that wouldn't be good in it. The day after I made this, I replicated it with some leftover grilled chicken and half an avocado. It would be bonkers with some steak or even marinated roasted tofu. Don't have parm? Hit it with some feta or diced Manchego. Broken-up seed crisps or stale bread would actually be great too. As long as you've got a zillion textures and colors, you can't go wrong.


Kale + Soft Lettuce Salad with Chickpeas, Radishes, Parm, and Many Seeds

Serves 8 as a side, 4 as an entree salad (particularly if you're adding more protein)

  • 1 bunch Tuscan kale, stems removed and leaves chopped
  • 1 head butter or Bibb lettuce, cored and chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 medium watermelon radish, cut in half and sliced thin (a mandoline is great here)
  • 1/4 cup shaved parmesan, broken up into irregular chunks with your hands
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons hemp seeds
  • 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds (white is OK too!)

In a large bowl, toss the kale and lettuce with the olive oil and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Pre-dressing the greens means a more evenly-seasoned canvas for all of the good stuff that comes next.) Add the chickpeas, radish, parmesan, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, and sesame seeds and toss again to combine. Check for seasoning and adjust, adding more olive oil if you're finding the salad too acidic, and more lemon if you want more pop. 

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