Kale salad with honey-mustard peanut dressing

This shredded kale and cabbage salad, tossed with a sweet honey-mustard dressing and a generous shower of crushed peanuts, has a cult following at Hillstone restaurants across the country, from Houston’s to Bandera to various Grill outposts, such as Cherry Creek, Bal Harbour, Palm Beach and Rutherford. I obsessively reverse-engineered this dressing from a sample I got from a nice server at my local restaurant, and it’s subtler and more delicate that I would have come up with on my own.

Salad ingredients

  • 1 bunch Tuscan kale (aka lacinato or dinosaur), thinly sliced (about 4-6 cups)
  • 2-4 cups green cabbage or savoy cabbage, thinly sliced (add enough to kale to make 8 cups combined)
  • 1/4 cup scallions and parsley (optional), OR
  • 1/4 cup scallions, cilantro and mint (optional)
  • 1/4 cup crushed roasted peanuts

Dressing ingredients (for 8 cups greens)

  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 4 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons water
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt (or just salt)
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon minced shallots (or scallions or onions)
  • 2 teaspoons crushed roasted peanuts
  • 1 teaspoon grated parmesan cheese
  • Dash hot sauce
  • 6 tablespoons unrefined expeller-pressed peanut oil (or extra-virgin olive oil)

Preparation

  1. Rinse and dry kale. Fold each leaf inward in half and use a sharp knife to cut out the tough center rib. Slice the kale thinly (I like to roughly stack leaves and roll them into a fat log on the cutting board so I can cut a bunch at once) and put into a large salad bowl.
  2. Rinse cabbage leaves and slice thinly too. Add to salad bowl. Chop and add herbs, if using.
  3. In a small bowl, add all the dressing ingredients except the oil. Whisk together with a fork. Whisk in oil last.
  4. Add dressing to salad greens, mixing very well to coat. Add crushed peanuts and mix to distribute. The salad will relax and the kale will lose some of its bitterness as it absorbs the dressing, so I recommend tossing it together 15 minutes to an hour before serving.

Makes 4 generous servings.

Notes

  • To crush peanuts, I use a rolling pin and gently roll over peanuts in a small ziploc bag (don’t seal it completely, or the bag will pop).
  • To make this salad ahead of time, just prep and store the three elements separately, a day or two ahead: 1) shredded kale/cabbage, 2) salad dressing and 3) crushed peanuts. Mix together before serving.
  • Like a slaw, leftovers will keep for next-day eating. The peanuts will soften along with the greens, but you can always add some fresh crushed peanuts.
  • To get a true Hillstone copycat dressing, you need unrefined, expeller-pressed peanut oil, which is a dark amber color and has a strong peanut taste. Refined peanut oil, pale in color, has virtually no peanut taste. Spectrum makes a good one (about $8 for 16 ounces) that I’ve found at Whole Foods and some specialty markets.
  • Makes a great main dish for two, topped with with rotisserie chicken or sliced steak.
  • You can use curly kale if you can’t find Tuscan; chop finely as the leaves are a bit tougher.

Here’s a link back to the post and pictures.