You know what makes a salad better? Bacon. Well, pork really. Pork belly to be specific. Honey-Lemon Lardons if you want to get technical. But I like to think of them as crispy, tangy, sweet pork croutons. The combination of the salty pork, the crispy bits of fat, and the gooey marinade just make eating a head of raw kale taste 1000% better than it sounds.
For the love of kale
If you like kale, you'll love this. You honestly don't even need the pork belly and it's still a delicious salad. But if you're on the fence about the leafy green that the entire country is currently obsessed with being a salad or maybe you just happen to be obsessed with pork (guilty), it's a beautiful combination.
The leafy kale is sturdy enough to support the tender sweet potato so you don't feel like you have a pile of mush in your mouth. The slivered almonds provide necessary crunchy texture and each bite into a pomegranate seed is like a little firework of tangy acidity. The marinade for the pork belly provides a calming balance of sweet and acidity to the natural saltiness of the pork. And the marinade and dressing are similar enough there's no battle of flavors while still bringing different tastes to the overall dish.
All in all, this is a salad that could be served for lunch and dinner. Light and fresh, you won't feel weighed down, but filling enough you won't be searching through the fridge for a snack an hour after. Worried about the pork belly? It truly is easier than you think.
Normally, a pork belly is roasted whole, but since we're cutting them into bite size pieces of heaven anyway, we slice that baby up, sprinkle it with salt and let it sit until we're ready to roll. Cut into ½-inch pieces, throw in a pan, and roast away. Add a little marinade, jack up the heat, let it brown and bubble and presto! Your very own pork croutons. And assembling the salad? A breeze...just check it out:
There are also quite a few modifications that can be made to suit your preferences. Pork belly not your thing? Use regular, thick slab bacon. Bacon not your thing? Skip it. But what about the dressing? Though the bacon fat is great for thickening the dressing and really allowing it to coat the kale leaves, besides adding flavor, you can absolutely substitute an extra tablespoon of EVOO - just taste test to see if salt is needed.
Kale Salad with Pork Belly Lardons
- 1 pound pork belly
- ¼ cup honey
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (1 lemon)
- 2 teaspoon soy sauce
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Remaining marinade (about 2 Tablespoons)
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon bacon fat drippings
Kale Salad with Pork Belly Lardons:
- 1 bunch kale (clean, dried, and roughly chopped)
- 1 ½ cup roasted sweet potato (1 medium sweet potato)
- ½ cup pomegranate seeds
- ¼ cup slivered almond
- ⅓ cup bacon vinaigrette
- Honey-Lemon Pork Belly Lardons
For the pork belly and sweet potato:
- Prepare the marinade and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350. Wash and dice sweet potato into bite sized pieces. Place on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes until tender, set aside to cool.
- While sweet potato is baking, prepare the pork belly. Cut pork belly into strips, lay flat and season liberally with salt. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Cut strips into lardons, about ½" thick. Bake in 350F oven for 25 minutes until lardons begin to brown.
- Bring oven heat as high as possible and cook lardons 5 minutes. Strain bacon drippings from the pan and set aside for dressing. Stir in ¼ cup of marinade. Return to the oven, cook for 7 minutes until lardons are crispy and marinade is bubbling. Set aside to cool.
To build the salad:
- Wash, dry, and remove stem from kale leaves, roughly chop into bite sized pieces.
- Add sweet potato, pomegranate seeds, and slivered almonds.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together ingredients for bacon vinaigrette. Drizzle desired amount of dressing over salad (⅓ cup recommended) and toss ingredients to coat.
- Sprinkle honey-lemon pork belly lardons over the top of the salad