Salad of Kale, Cranberry, Apple and Chilli with ‘Tahini Caeser’ by Ampersand Eatery

Here at I AM Co. one of our favourite things to do is enjoy visiting the great cafes around the country. We’re so spoilt to have such an amazing range of cafes serving some hugely delicious, healthy food from a wide variety of cultures. Some of these cafes have been generous enough to share some of our favourites with you….

Ampersand, is an all-day eatery offering delicious seasonal dishes in a warm, open, light-filled space. Join them for weeknight dinners, a casual weekend brunch, morning coffee or a relaxed lunch. They make the most of an abundance of seasonal ingredients, transforming them into simple and creative dishes, presenting the thought and attention to detail that comes from years of experience.


Serves 4

Don’t be daunted by the list of ingredients, once you’ve read the recipe you see its super easy and great to prepare in advance for a lunch with friends or to take to BBQ.

The dressing keeps well in the fridge (covered) for about a week, just let it come to room temperature before serving and taste before using, it may need a little more of this maybe another splash of that.

The salad ingredients are what we prefer to serve with the quite robust kale, but you add or subtract as you like, raisins for cranberry, apple for pear, walnuts for cashew, it’s a salad FFS, not the ten commandments!

When it comes to serving, I prefer to smear the Caesar all over the bottom of a large serving plate and attractively arrange its constituent parts on top. This not only allows the beautiful colours to shine through, but also allows those eating it some control around how its dressed.

Tahini ‘Caesar’ Dressing:

  1. 80g tahini (about 3 large tbsp)
  2. 1 clove garlic minced
  3. 50mL maple syrup, pref. organic
  4. 50mL live cider vinegar
  5. Approx. 50mL hot vegetable stock (or water)
  6. Splash of good olive oil
  7. 1⁄2 lemon
  8. Salt and pepper

Salad Ingredients:

  • 500g Green Curly Kale
  • 100g dried cranberry
  • 100mL ‘live’ cider vinegar
  • 1 apple (your favourite type, I prefer granny smith for this but Braeburn is also a good
  • choice)
  • 2 slices stale bread, rye works well
  • 2 tablespoon sunflower seeds
  • 2 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tablespoon cashew nuts
  • 1 fresh red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 small red onion
  • 3 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
  • 1⁄2 lemon
  • Salt and pepper

For the dressing:

Place tahini, maple, garlic and vinegar in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the hot stock to thin the dressing out to a lighter consistency. Add a good lug of olive oil, salt and pepper and some lemon juice to taste.

Taste the dressing, you want it to taste full flavoured and assertive, slightly sweet and sour. Add more lemon juice if you think it needs it. Pay attention to the bitterness of the tahini (brands can vary wildly), it’s a dressing, not you ex, you only want a little bit of bitterness!

For the salad:

Soak the cranberries in the vinegar. If using straight away, you might want to boil the vinegar first to speed the process up. I prefer to do a large batch and keep them in the fridge, they’re great with just about anything…. we’re roasting parsnips atm and chucking a handful in at the end, brilliant!

Bring a pot of salted water to a rapid boil. Pick the kale of the stem by grabbing both edges of the leaf between you palm and fingers in one hand and ‘peeling’ the stem away with the other.

Blanch the kale for 20 seconds, no more. Refresh in iced water until chilled and drain well. Store on paper towels. This will break the kale down a little and make it much more palatable.

Chop the stale bread into small croutons, toss with nuts and seeds in a dry pan (or wok) over a low heat with a pinch of salt until toasted and aromatic, about 5 mins, dress with just a touch of olive oil and tip out onto paper towel.

Finely slice the apple and red onion.

To serve:

I generally choose a large flat plate to present this on. Check the dressing, it may have thickened if made in advance, just add a touch of hot water to thin.

Smear this liberally all over the bottom of the plate.

In a bowl, toss kale, and remaining ingredients with a touch of olive oil, seasoning and lemon juice.

Spread this out over the dressing, the idea being that when you take a spoonful you get some of everything, including the dressing at the bottom.

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If you have an absolute favourite dish from a NZ cafe we’d love to hear from you – we will try our utmost to feature it on the blog! Email us at [email protected]