A kale-inspired Caesar salad propels a Portland student to a White House visit

TRIBUNE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Twelve-year-old Hannah Conte holds a bowl of All Kale Caesar! salad, a dish that won her a contest for a White House celebration of healthy eating and kids State Dinner on June 14. All it took was a Caesar salad with a delicious blend of salmon, black olives and kale. Now, 12-year-old Hannah Conte is ready to take to the friendly skies to visit the White House in July.

Conte, creator of All Kale Caesar, is the Oregon recipe winner of the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, a contest that promotes healthful eating and cooking.

The contest, featuring Conte and 55 other winners from all states, five territories and the District of Columbia, is part of first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Initiative. The winners will take part in a Kids’ “State Dinner” luncheon at the White House, hosted by Obama, July 14. The youngsters will also have the chance to visit the White House Kitchen Garden.

The challenge is a partnership with the first lady, PBS flagship station WGBH (Boston), the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

While not yet committing to a career in food, Conte said she enjoys cooking, noting she likes to watch Cupcake Wars and Chopped on the Food Network.

“It’s fun, yeah,” Hannah said. “I like it as a hobby. Maybe, some day, I will want to be a chef.”

TRIBUNE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Twelve-year-old Hannah Conte grates parmesan cheese for the dressing for her All Kale Caesar! salad.In choosing her recipe for the contest, she said Caesar salad has been a family favorite over the years.

“We usually eat Caesar salad at holidays, on my mom’s side of the family,” she said. “I really do like Caesar salad, so I wanted to make it like a full meal.”

Hannah, who will be attending Portland’s Riverdale Grade School as a seventh-grader this fall, likes to use Northwest ingredients in her All Kale Caesar, including salmon, Dave’s Killer Bread (croutons) and kale.

While kale is an acquired taste for many, she admits to liking the dark-green vegetable. “I thought it would be a fun choice,” she added.

Hannah’s mother, Sara, explained that Hannah has always enjoyed cooking. “I don’t know if she’ll ever take it all the way to be a professional chef, but she really loves to cook,” Sara said. “She cooks a lot with her dad, so I am very lucky he has aspired to that even more than I have. She (Hannah) does a lot of baking as well.”

Sara gets to join her daughters and husband on the trip to Washington D.C. “I’ve never been to the White House,” Sara said. “I’m so thrilled for the opportunity to be in the same room, and maybe meet Michelle Obama. I think she’s an amazing leader for our country.”

Part of the Conte’s adventure will be a private tour of Julia Child’s Kitchen, located at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

Hannah recalled visiting the East Coast, but this will be her first chance to rub elbows with the first lady, and perhaps, if she’s lucky, the President himself.


TRIBUNE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Twelve-year-old Hannah Conte shreds pieces of salmon  for her All Kale Caesar! salad.Ingredients

One head of kale (about 5 cups)

One egg

1/2 cup of olive oil + two tablespoons

2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce

Juice of one large lemon

4 slices bread (preferably Dave’s Killer Bread)

1 teaspoon of truffle salt

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/4 cup chopped black olives

8 oz. salmon (preferably Sockeye or Coho)

Salt and pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees
  2. Cut bread into 1/2 inch cubes and put in a bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, truffle salt and crushed black pepper.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes.
  4. While croutons are baking, wash kale and using knife or fingers, separate the kale from the stalks.
  5. Rip or chop into bite sized pieces and put into a large salad bowl.
  6. For the dressing, put the egg into a cup of hot water from the faucet and let sit for five minutes.
  7. While egg is coddling, mix 1/2 cup olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl. When the egg is ready, crack it into the dressing and whisk until combined.
  8. Salt and pepper the salmon and heat a pan and add olive oil.
  9. Place the salmon skin side down and cover and cook on medium high for 10 minutes or until salmon is firm. Let rest for 5 minutes.
  10. While salmon is cooling, add dressing to the kale and massage gently making sure that it is well coated.
  11. Flake the salmon and add to the kale along with parmesan, olives and croutons.
  12. Toss well to combine.

Healthy Lunchtime Challenge cookbook

On Thursday, July 14, a free downloadable and printable e-cookbook of this year’s Healthy Lunchtime Challenge winning recipes will be available on the contest site:


Scott Keith is a freelance writer with the Portland Tribune and the Pamplin Media Group. If you have a health tip, or a story idea, contact Scott at [email protected]com.

Contract Publishing

Go to top
Template by JoomlaShine