Warm Kale Asparagus Salad
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This Warm Kale Asparagus Salad with Hard Boiled Eggs is served with a bacon dressing and is a delicious lunch, light dinner, or side dish. Hearty greens and tender blanched asparagus make this a healthy but yummy springtime meal.
Truth be told, I’ve been sitting on this recipe for a while. I actually started developing it two years ago, and finally last year I perfected it – just as asparagus went out of season! This year I was determined and the moment I saw the first bundles of spring asparagus pop up at my farmer’s market, I took them home and got my pictures taken.
Which is GREAT because now I can finally share this delicious warm asparagus salad with you all. It features hearty kale and hard boiled eggs which can stand up to the stovetop warm bacon dressing that ties it all together in one fantastic bite.
This recipe used fresh ingredients mixed with a few key flavor bombs to make this salad sing. Combining kale and asparagus in a warm salad will deliver something that feels and tastes like a gourmet bistro lunch right at home.
- Kale – I used curly green kale, but you can use whatever variety you like. I don’t recommend subbing in spinach or tender greens because they’ll wilt and get soggy in the warm dressing.
- Asparagus – I used a medium thickness asparagus here, a bit thicker than a pencil. You can use whatever asparagus looks the best to you – I’ll show you how that affects cooking time later in the post.
- Hard cooked eggs – I always say hard boiled eggs, but I actually use the method I share in my how to steam eggs post to cook these. You can use whatever you like, but make sure the yolk is set.
- Sliced almonds – You can definitely just chop almonds, or use pecans or walnuts if you like.
- Onion – I really prefer yellow onions for this recipe, but you could definitely use white or shallot instead.
- Bacon – Thick sliced will give you a better bite in the salad.
- Red wine vinegar– This is essential for building the dressing. White wine or apple cider vinegar can be used instead.
- Brown sugar – Use cane, white, coconut sugar, or whatever makes you happy to sweeten the dressing.
- Water – You really, really need this to make the dressing, otherwise it’s way too intense!
- Pepper – I love a few grinds of fresh cracked black pepper to balance the warm bacon dressing out.
Learn more about all things Asparagus in my Guide for Home Cooks…
I wish I could tell you this is a quick ‘toss it together kind of salad’, BUT…it’s not. To make the perfect warm kale salad, there are some steps involved, but I promise the end result will be a really delicious meal you’ll be happy to eat and serve to friends and family.
Here are my best cooking tips to make sure your salad comes out just right.
- Pre-cook and shell the eggs – I start mine steaming before I prep anything else so they can cook, cool, and I can peel them for the salad with plenty of time.
- Blanch and shock the asparagus – This is really essential for the best tender crisp texture. If you’re using thin asparagus, blanch for 2 minutes, for thicker ones go for 3-4 minutes. Then shock them in ice water to stop the cooking. You want bright green asparagus, not dark.
- Did you know there’s no need to snap or peel your asparagus? Check out my Asparagus Ingredient Profile for more tips!
- Massage the kale – This is a step I recommend for all my kale salads, warm or cold like my summer kale berry salad. For the greens to absorb maximum flavor, chop them and add them to the salad bowl with a tiny drizzle of oil and a pinch of salt. Then get in there like you’re kneading bread for 1-2 minutes. Bruising the leaves will break it down so they’re more pleasant to chew and receptive to dressing.
- Drain off some bacon grease – I’ve made this without draining the grease and while it tastes fine, the dressing is too oily. So get rid of all but 1 tablespoon or so when you’re making the dressing.
- Let the dressing cool – You want warm – not piping hot. Set the dressing aside while you assemble the salad.
- Toss the dressing before adding eggs – Combine the kale, asparagus, almonds and warm dressing. Then arrange it on a platter and add the sliced or halved eggs for a beautiful, finished meal.
Serving and Storage Suggestions
When it comes to serving this I usually enjoy it on its own as a light lunch, with maybe a slice of asiago bread or a warm garlic bread roll on the side.
But it’s also totally okay to enjoy this as a side. Cast iron salmon, tomato carrot soup, apple pecan chicken salad, or bacon onion jam burgers would all be really good with it.
And, surprisingly, this salad actually stores pretty well! I usually keep everything in the refrigerator together minus the egg (which you can store separately). Then I pop it in the microwave for like 30 seconds, or toss it in a warm skillet until the dressing has loosened up. Then the eggs go back on top and I have a tasty lunch in no time.
If you want to prep ahead, you can blanch the asparagus, cook the eggs, and massage the kale up to 3 days in advance. Then just make the dressing and assemble when ready.
I hope you love this salad much as we do. It’s one of those elegant salads that I love to make at home when I’m craving something a bit fancier, but don’t want to go out and pay bistro prices. It’s also a perfect dinner party salad!
Let me know how it goes for you, and enjoy these other spring asparagus recipes to enjoy while the season is here!
Warm Kale Asparagus Salad
- 6 cups kale, stemmed and chopped 1 bunch
- 2 cups asparagus, chopped into thirds 1 bundle
- 8 peices thick cut bacon, chopped
- 3/4 cups yellow onion, diced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 6 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 3/4 cups water
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 4 eggs
- 1 teaspoon oil
- pinch salt
- Before prepping anything steam or boil your hard boiled eggs. While they cook, chop the onion, asparagus, kale, and bacon.
- Heat 3-4 inches of well-salted water in a large, rimmed sauté pan over high heat. Cover to bring to a boil. Prepare a bowl with ice water.
- Add in the asparagus and blanch for 2 minutes or until bright green.
- Transfer asparagus directly into the ice bath and return the pan to medium heat. Add in the bacon.
- While the bacon cooks to almost crisp (6-8 minutes), peel the eggs and set aside. Stir the bacon occasionally.
- When bacon is almost crisp add in the onions and stir occasionally until softened. Reduce heat if needed to prevent browning.
- Add the chopped kale to a large bowl with 1 teaspoon of oil and a pinch (1/8 tsp) of salt. Massage the oil and salt into the leaves until its slightly bruised, 1-2 minutes.
- When onions are soft, drain off all but 1 tablespoon of remaining bacon fat from the pan. Add in the water, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, and black pepper.
- Let the dressing simmer until slightly reduced, 2-3 minutes. Taste and add a pinch of salt or pepper if needed.
- Set the dressing aside off the heat to cool for a few minutes and assemble the salad. Dry the asparagus gently and combine with the almonds and kale.
- Toss the salad in the warm bacon dressing then arrange on a platter and top with sliced or halved hard boiled eggs.
- Serve immediately.
Nutrition information and cooking times are provided as a best estimate. Values may vary based upon ingredients and equipment.
Loved your tip on massaging the kale, definitely made a difference. Delicious salad that made a great dinner!
Tristin thanks, sometimes it is the simplest of steps that makes a recipe pop with the flavors your desire!
This kale asparagus salad is so filling and delicious! It is loaded with so many tasty ingredients and it did not make it past a day in my house, everyone loved it!
That’s great LaKita, thanks for sharing how much you all loved it!
I was never a fan of kale… until I made this salad!!! It’s soo good, massaging kale really makes a huge difference! I also loved the addition of bacon, even my husband enjoyed it, and he really dislikes kale!
Anna, this makes me so happy to hear. I love when I can help someone discover the love of a previously disliked food!
What a great lunch this kale asparagus salad makes! Light yet nutritious and satisfying.
Yes, it does make for a great lunch meal! It also pairs well with a roasted chicken or a juicy grilled steak!