If you’ve spent a lot of time in Austin over the past few years, you’ve likely enjoyed at least one morning at the Swedish hill sunny patio preferably devouring a puff pastry croissant, sipping a perfect matcha latte, or eating a piece of toasted sourdough with smoked salmon and cucumbers. It’s the kind of all-day cafe that I love for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (did I mention their Roberta pizza with Fresno chili and spicy honey?) And the vibes are as good as the food. As much as I like sweets and copious amounts of coffee, for me, there is a prominent menu item that may 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 experienced, with cauliflower, tahini dressing, and a satisfying mix of almonds and crunchy rice topping this salad on top. It’s just one of many reasons why I included Swedish Hill in my guide to Austin’s best restaurants.
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Since I’m in California for the summer, I really miss my weekly fix of Clarksville Crunch salad, so I begged my friends at Swedish Hill to spill the recipe so I can make my fix at home. Below, I’ve broken down the secrets of what exactly makes the best kale salad so good – it’s simple, but each component plays a key role. The good news? The home version is as good as the one I love at Swedish Hill. Now if only I could recreate that Snickerdoodle cookie that I like to finish with! I’ll work on that next.
Scroll forward 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 scoop up.
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How to massage kale
If you haven’t started massaging the kale, it’s time to do it. It really is the secret to the best kale salad, as it makes it tender, slightly sweet, and not at all difficult to chew. Here’s how to do it:
- Place your chopped kale in a large bowl and drizzle with a touch of olive oil, a dash of lemon, and a pinch of salt.
- Use your hands to vigorously massage the kale for about a minute. Yes, it really goes in there. The goal is to break down the fibers and make them easier to digest. 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 look shiny and their volume is reduced a bit.
I showed this technique in action. on my Instagram right here.
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Next, prepare the croquettes.
This salad is all about that crunch (hence the name), and IMHO, it’s what takes this kale salad to the next level. I love how this salad uses a combination of flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, all the bagel seasoning, and sliced almonds to give this salad multi-layered texture and flavor. Pro Tip: Double up the batch and store it in a mason jar in the freezer, and you’re ready to add instant chef vibes to any salad.
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The best kale salad dressing is made with tahini.
Truth! When it comes to kale salads, the dressing is everything. And at least here in the US, tahini is an underutilized flavor powerhouse player; If you haven’t used it, you should. So what exactly is tahini? It is a Middle Eastern condiment made from roasted and ground sesame seeds. You’ve probably eaten it on hummus or baba ghanoush, and it’s a great salad dressing star, thanks to its nutty, complex, and creamy flavor.
In the Swedish Hill dressing, tahini is combined with olive oil, honey, dijon, lemon juice, and lime zest for a sweet, tart, citrus and nutty combination that is downright addictive and really brings out the extra side kale sweet. I shake mine in a glass jar and keep it in the fridge for up to two weeks.
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Now that you have the secrets to the best kale salad, scroll down to see the recipe that Swedish Hill so graciously 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.