This will almost double the crispy ingredients you need for this salad, but I think you’ll be happy for the leftovers. An 8-10 ounce bundle of Curly or Lacinato/Tuscan/Dinosaur kale with the woody stems and ribs removed will yield the 5 ounces of leaves used here. I usually slice the apple just before serving, just in case it’s prone to browning (but not all are). The crunchy nuts are adapted from the Kale Salad at Beauty & Essex in the Lower East Side.
1 shallot, minced
3 tbsp (45 g) apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon smooth Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon (15 g) mayonnaise or Greek-style plain yogurt
6 tbsp (80 g) olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup (115 grams or 4 ounces) sharp Cheddar, roughly grated
1 cup (85 grams) sliced almonds
2 tbsp (15 g) powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground red chili
5 ounces (140 g) kale leaves, any variety, sliced into thin ribbons [see Note]
1 large crisp apple, halved, cored, and thinly sliced
Heat oven to 400°F.
start dressing: In a medium bowl, combine onion and apple cider vinegar and set aside while you prepare crisp ingredients.
Make the Cheddar Crunchy and Sugared Almonds: Line a large (half sheet size) rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Scatter the Cheddar evenly over half of the parchment in an approximately 8×12-inch, 1/4-inch-thick rectangle. Sprinkle on a little cayenne or black pepper if you’d like.
In a colander, wash the almonds under cold water (yes, really!) and shake off excess liquid. In a bowl, toss wet almonds with powdered sugar, salt, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne until evenly coated. Spread in a thin, even layer on the other side of a parchment-covered baking sheet, leaving an inch bare around it so it can spread.
Bake the almonds and Cheddar together, 4 to 9 minutes, until the cheese has melted and is evenly deep golden brown and the almonds are deep and lightly golden on the edges. Please hear me on this: look at it carefully, The cheddar and almonds will both burn from completely bronze yet not golden in what feels like a one minute period. Check it at 4 minutes, then every minute or so until the pan is done. Remove and let cool while you finish the salad.
Finish Dressing: To shallots and vinegar in bowl, whisk in dijon, mayo or yogurt, then drizzle in olive oil, whisking the entire time. Season dressing with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Collect: In a large wide bowl or salad plate, toss the greens with 2/3 of the dressing to start, then taste and add the rest as you like. Fanning out the slices, arrange the apples on top of the greens. Break almond flakes from baking sheet and scatter over salad. If the cheddar crisp seems too oily, you can blot it with a paper towel before tearing or cutting it into large bite-size pieces and scattering them over the salad. Season the salad with additional salt and pepper and serve immediately.
Proceed: Nuts can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. It is best to store paneer crisps lightly covered in the fridge. The dressing will keep in the fridge for several days. Washed and dried kale keeps for several days in a large zippered bag in the fridge, provided you keep it out of places that are prone to freezing produce (or maybe it’s just my terrible fridge).