Napa and Kale Salad with Creamy Cashew Dressing and Sriracha Cashews Recipe

Did the ol’ shorts from last summer feel a bit tight when you pulled them out of the closet recently? Or are you just looking for a healthy salad idea? With nuts not only as a topping but also in the homemade dressing, this recipe helps you feel full longer and tosses up the healthy quotient with kale and a kick of spice.

If you avoid nuts because you think of them as too fattening, studies have shown that people who eat a handful of nuts every day lose more weight than those who don’t. Plus, nuts are packed with health-promoting elements. Their unsaturated fats support heart health by lowering unhealthy LDL cholesterol and promoting healthy HDL cholesterol. They are also a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which lower triglycerides and prevent plaque buildup in the arteries. Nuts are high in fiber, which protects your health and keeps you feeling full longer. They are rich in antioxidants such as vitamin E, folic acid, magnesium, selenium and other phytochemicals that protect your cells from oxidation and inflammation. What’s more, people who eat nuts have lower rates of several types of cancers. Nuts also contain plant sterols, which can improve cholesterol.

Throwing a handful of crunchy nuts on a green salad is a good idea. But why stop there? Nuts can be pureÌed to create a smooth, creamy dressing. Raw cashews are the secret to this dressing, which is as rich and creamy as its dairy-based counterparts, says Twin Cities chef and cookbook author Robin Asbell, who created this recipe for Real Food. These nuts are white instead of brown, and are found in the produce or bulk section of the store. The fluffy napa cabbage, creamy dressing and spicy crunch of Sriracha cashews make for a salad with a kick.

Napa and Kale Salad with Creamy Cashew Dressing and Sriracha Cashews

Makes 4 Servings

Dressing and Salad
1/2 cup raw cashews
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 leaves kale, stems removed and thinly sliced
4 cups shredded napa cabbage
2 medium carrots, julienned

Sriracha Cashews
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 teaspoons Sriracha
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup roasted cashews

1. For the dressing: Using a food processor, finely grind cashews. Add 2 tablespoons lemon juice, salt and oil, and process to a smooth paste. With the machine running, add 7 tablespoons water individually until pureÌe is smooth and pourable. Transfer to a small bowl.

2. For the salad: In a large bowl, toss kale with remaining lemon juice, and knead and massage to tenderize. When kale is slightly wilted, add cabbage and carrot.

3. For the Sriracha cashews: Combine oil, Sriracha and salt in a large sauteÌ pan. Add cashews and stir to coat. Place over medium heat, stir, and cook 4 minutes, until nuts are well coated and hot to the touch. Spread on a plate to cool.

4. Just before serving, add dressing and toss to coat. Top with Sriracha cashews.

Nutrition Info Napa & Kale Salad (Per Serving): Calories 287 (190 From Fat); Fat 22g (Sat. 3g); Chol 0mg; Sodium 786mg; Carb 19g; Fiber 3g; Protein 8g

Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.