Image: Iman Eli

We wanted something light to start the picnic, so Kulture's Dawn Burrell, a University of Houston graduate and Olympic long jumper who’s become one of the brightest stars in the local culinary scene, gave us the perfect salad, complete with a streak of Southern comfort thanks to a base of some strong collard greens.

Standing up to the dense greens is a Senegalese-inspired peanut vinaigrette that dances on the tongue with a splash of fish sauce and just a few chile flakes. You’ll want to dress this salad copiously, trust us.

“It travels well,” says Burrell. “Collard greens are really, really hearty, and I think they give the dish that nice flavor balance: a perfect combination of richness and light, refreshing notes.”

Salad ingredients:

  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 T salt
  • 1 c cucumber, thinly sliced on angle
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 c red onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch collard greens, rinsed and dried 1 c peanut vinaigrette (recipe follows)
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • 1/2 c peanuts, crushed
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, crumbled
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Salad instructions:

  1. Combine sugar and salt, then split mixture in half.
  2. Toss cucumbers in 1 T of the sugar/salt mixture. Let sit for 15 minutes, then rinse and drain on paper towel. 
  3. Sprinkle the other 1 T of sugar/salt mixture on tomatoes, and set aside to marinade. Do not rinse tomatoes.
  4. Rinse onions under cold running water for 10 minutes or until plump and bitterness is gone. Place on paper towel to dry.
  5. Cut collard greens into 1 1⁄2-inch pieces. Place greens into a large bowl, and season with salt to taste. Add half of the peanut vinaigrette and massage into the collard greens to soften and wilt a bit.
  6. Toss in tomatoes and cucumbers. 
  7. Place into serving bowl and garnish with remaining ingredients and more dressing, if desired. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Peanut vinaigrette ingredients:

  • 2/3 c skinless peanuts (tree nuts or seeds can substitute)
  • 5 T cane vinegar or white balsamic vinegar 11⁄2 T lime juice
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 shallot, sliced
  • 1.5 T turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 T salt
  • 1 T fish sauce or crawfish powder 1 tsp chile flakes
  • 1 c water
  • 1 c olive oil

Peanut vinaigrette instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Toast peanuts in oven until fragrant. Allow to cool.
  3. Place vinegar, lime juice, garlic, shallots, sugar, salt, fish sauce, and chile flakes into a blender, and blend until smooth.
  4. Add peanuts and water. Blend until bro- ken down. Add more water if necessary. While blender is running, slowly drizzle in olive oil until emulsified.
  5. Adjust seasoning to taste.
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