What do you think about having a salad for dinner? It seems like one of those cliche relationship movie moments where the girl always orders a tiny salad and the guy inhales the biggest cut of steak with a side of potatoes. (We love to eat here at Cook Smarts, so we can’t really relate to the tiny salad thing.)
However, as you know, we’re all about veggies, and we even like to enjoy salad for breakfast every now and then. So eventually, we decided to put a couple of entree salads onto our meal plans. We thought that they would not go over too well with folks. The whole salad-as-dinner just doesn’t seem so popular.
But lo and behold, everyone surprised us by requesting more dinner salads, and they even became some people’s favorite meals!
“Excellent. I love how you can make salad out of kale and it won’t get wilty. This would be a great salad to bring for lunch. The pork was perfect cooked this way.” -Mary Ann
We shouldn’t have been surprised, though. They are healthy, perfect for using up leftovers, and they are quick to prep and make. Many of our members have told us that the last thing they needed on a busy or tiring weeknight was to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. And entree salads are the solution.
If you chop your veggies, cook your protein (if using), and make the dressing ahead of time, all you have to do on the day-of is wash the greens, toss everything together, and sit down to eat.
Also, all the different varieties and salad ingredient possibilities are endless!
For example, pear season and the crisp, cooling air of fall inspired this recipe. Pears with kale, pork chops, a sprinkling of sweet golden raisins, and a delightful maple-apple vinaigrette are what sums up the taste of autumn. You’ll feel good about eating this salad, too! Both in a healthy way, and in an “I’m surprisingly full” kind of way. Just because it’s a pile of greens doesn’t mean that it should be underestimated!
We keep this salad filling with the addition of pork chops and croutons. We like to slice up the pork and enjoy it with the kale salad, but if you want to savor each bite of pork on its own, feel free to have it with a side of salad.
And for those who think it’s filling enough and want to give yourself a pat on the back for making and eating a healthy dinner, do what Kitchen Hero Candice did and treat yourself to a cookie!
“Unbelievably delicious. Loved the combination of the flavors. Used dried cherries instead of raisins and omitted the bread chunks. (Wanted a cookie instead.)” -Candice
Can’t get enough of salad-for-dinner? Add these to your weekly meal plan for an easy and tasty dinner:
For More Smarts:
Don’t be scared of eating raw kale. Just give it some time to marinate in a dressing and it breaks down into a lovely salad green.
It might seem like this dish requires a bit of prep, but it’s all very quick and easy to do, especially with the help of these videos:
A whisk is very handy for making salad dressings, but you can also pour the ingredients in a jar and shake it up!
For more kitchen and equipment and tool smarts, visit our ‘Essential Kitchen Cookware and Tools’
- Maple-Apple Vinaigrette (1/2 cup):
- Balsamic vinegar – 1 1/2 tbsp
- Apple cider vinegar – 1 tbsp
- Dijon mustard – 2 tsp
- Maple syrup – 1 tbsp
- Mild-flavored oil – 5 tbsp (Like grapeseed, avocado, vegetable)
- Pork Chops:
- Pork chops – 1 lb.
- Salt and pepper – for seasoning
- Cooking oil – for brushing
- Maple-apple vinaigrette – 3 tbsp
- Pear and Raisin Salad:
- Kale (lacinato or dino, preferably) – 1 bunch
- Maple-apple vinaigrette – 3 tbsp + 2 tbsp
- French baguette – 5 oz., torn
- Cooking oil – 1 1/2 tbsp
- Pear – 1, sliced
- Golden raisins – 1/3 cup
- Almonds – 1/4 cup, sliced
- Make vinaigrette / marinade: Whisk together balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, maple syrup, and oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
- Marinate kale – Prep kale by tearing leaves off of stems and into bite-sized pieces. Toss with first part of vinaigrette. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 day. (Can be done 1 day ahead)
- Pork chops – Season with salt and pepper and tenderize with a fork. (Can be done 1 day ahead)
- Bread – Tear into bite-sized pieces. Toss with cooking oil, spread out onto a sheet pan, and lightly sprinkle with some salt and pepper.
- Heat oven to 375 degrees. Toast bread for 10 to 12 minutes until golden, tossing once midway through.
- Heat a skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush with some oil and then place pork chops on heated oil. Sear on each side for ~3 minutes. For thin pork chops, this should be enough heat to cook them through. If you’re using thicker pork chops, lower heat and cover with a piece of foil until pork reaches 145 degrees. When done, let pork rest for ~5 minutes before slicing.
- Slice pear and toss with kale, toasted bread, raisins, almonds and second part of the vinaigrette.
- Drizzle balsamic vinaigrette over sliced pork and enjoy with kale salad.