Kale Salad with Pancetta & Balsamic Vinaigrette

Kale Salad with pancetta, sliced almonds and dried cranberries

Kale Salad with pancetta, sliced almonds and dried cranberries

I’ve always like kale in soups but this salad is my favourite way to eat kale now. I have been eating absurdly large servings of this salad so I’m feeling like I should be entered into the running for dietary sainthood for eating this much raw kale.. Bacon notwithstanding.

The first time I made a kale salad was on Christmas Day. I saw on Twitter that Martin’s Family Fruit store said they had a delivery of fresh Ontario kale and on the drive home to Waterloo from Barrie on the 23rd I asked them via Twitter whether they had any left. They replied that they did so I added that errand to my husband’s ever growing list of things to do on Christmas Eve.

Since I was in such a scramble getting things done for Christmas dinner I didn’t think to add any sort of bacon to the salad. Thankfully I always have crispy prosciutto with brussel sprouts and on my dinner plate some kale and prosciutto got mixed together. Big forehead smack that I didn’t put some bacon in the salad in the first place.

The first time that I made this with the pancetta fat in the dressing was when we had friends over for dinner. I was going to make prime rib but the damn thing was still frozen in the middle when I went to put it in the oven at 4:00pm. I was screwed. My husband ran out to the butcher’s and picked up some nice steaks which he cooked perfectly despite difficult conditions. Our bbq isn’t top of the line and when it is cold outside it is hard to get a good medium rare on steaks but he let the bbq heat up for a good 45 minutes and it worked out well. The dinner party disaster was averted by throwing money at the problem. It was an expensive mistake. Shall we all commiserate by sharing our best/worst dinner party or cooking disasters? I would love to hear about them in the comment section. Just so we are clear, this was not my worst cooking screw-up by a long shot.

Kale Salad with Pancetta & Balsamic Vinaigrette

Kale salad topped with pancetta, sliced almonds and dried cranberries. The real key to this delicious salad is using some of the fat from frying the pancetta in the dressing.

20 minPrep Time

20 minTotal Time

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  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 2 oz pancetta
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil with pancetta fat from frying
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • pinch of pepper
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries


  1. Cut the rib out of the kale by laying it flat on the side and exposing the thick stem/rib. Slice the rib off and discard and then tear the kale into bite size pieces. Wash and dry using paper towels or a salad spinner.
  2. Cut pancetta into small cubes if using a thick cut or into 1 centimetre size bits if using thin sliced pancetta. Fry with a little olive oil on a medium low heat so that the fat renders out slowly and it browns evenly.
  3. When the pancetta is a nice golden brown, drain the fat into a heat-proof bowl or measuring cup and set the crispy pancetta aside.
  4. In a small measuring cup whisk the balsamic vinegar, pepper and Dijon mustard together.
  5. Add enough olive oil to the pancetta fat to make 1/3 cup of oil and whisk the oil into the vinegar and mustard until it is all emulsified.
  6. Toss the kale with the vinaigrette and top with the crispy pancetta, cranberries and almonds and serve.
Recipe Type: Salad


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