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Garlic confit vinaigrette turns this kale salad from fine to fabulous

(Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post/Food styling by Gina Nistico for The Washington Post)
Shredded Kale Tri-Color Salad With Creamy Garlic Vinaigrette
Total time:15 mins
Total time:15 mins

When Chef Dan Kluger touts an ingredient as a game changer, I listen. I’ve admired his culinary talent for years and have been especially wowed by the vegetable dishes at his Greenwich Village restaurant Loring Place. His outstanding cookbook, “Chasing Flavor,” written with cookbook writer Nick Fauchald, is peppered with what he calls “takeaways,” techniques for building and balancing the flavor of whatever you may be cooking. In other words, Kluger is spilling his secrets, making the cookbook more than a collection of recipes.

A crunchy, flavorful salad makes great use of cauliflower or any leftover roasted vegetables

After reading that he considers his garlic confit “the one pantry staple from this cookbook that you should always have in your refrigerator,” I made a beeline to my kitchen to try it. It’s easy to make: You simply simmer peeled garlic cloves and olive oil over a very low heat until the cloves are golden and soft. It takes nearly an hour but the process is pretty hands-off, only needing a little stirring now and then.

How to make garlic confit, the pantry staple you didn’t know you needed

True to Kluger’s promise, the result is flavor-magic: The garlic cloves become spreadably creamy and mellow tasting, but also deeply savory, with a hint of sweetness, while the oil takes on the same intoxicating flavor. You can use the cloves and the oil in myriad ways — spread on toast, whirred into a bean dip, stirred into a sauce or slathered onto meat or poultry, to name just a few.

The confit transforms everything it touches with its deep, savory essence. In “Chasing Flavor,” it drives the bold taste of this glorious creamy dressing. With a mouthwatering, savory-sweet-tangy balance, the dressing so good and is such a breeze to make, it’s now officially in regular rotation in my home. It stands up especially well to hearty greens, so I have used it here to dress a simple, but eye-catching, tri-color kale salad, massaging the dressing into the greens to tenderize them a bit before tossing them with sliced radicchio, fennel and a generous handful of fresh parsley.

Scale and get a printer-friendly version of the recipe here.

The result is so compellingly delicious, it has earned garlic confit a permanent place in my refrigerator.

Storage Notes: Leftover dressing can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.


For the vinaigrette

  • 4 cloves Garlic Confit
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or oil from the confit
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the salad

  • 5 cups (5 ounces) lightly packed, thinly sliced kale leaves (from about 1/2 large bunch stemmed kale)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced radicchio
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Step 1

Make the vinaigrette: In the pitcher of a blender, combine the garlic confit, lemon juice, oil, vinegar, honey, mustard, salt and pepper and blend until smooth and creamy. You should get about 1/2 cup.

Step 2

Make the salad: Place the kale into a large bowl and add 1/4 cup of the dressing on top. Using your hands, massage the kale and dressing together until the kale is tender, about 2 minutes. Add the radicchio, fennel and parsley and toss to combine.

Step 3

Divide among bowls or plates and serve.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 86; Total Fat: 4 g; Saturated Fat: 1 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 167 mg; Carbohydrates: 12 g; Dietary Fiber: 4 g; Sugar: 6 g; Protein: 2 g.

Tested by Olga Massov; email questions to

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