So I'm as surprised as anyone to find myself posting a recipe for kale salad. We ate iceberg. It was a big leap for me to try romaine and spinach in salads, but I've generally shied away from more exotic greens.
But one of my online friends, author Jessica Park, posted a recipe on Facebook, and I took it as a challenge. I poked around, found a few other recipes out there, cobbled them together to create something my own. Turns out it was dang good, a hearty, flavorful salad that filled us up and wasn't even a tiny bit "weird."
What I learned in my research: massaging the kale and allowing it to sit in its dressing are important. Massaging the kale (literally rubbing it between your fingers for a few minutes) breaks down the cell walls, softening the leaves and essentially "cooking" the kale, without any heat at all. [NOTE: a lot of the recipes I read suggest adding a little salt to the leaves before you massage them, but I didn't bother. If you do add salt to the leaves, omit it from the dressing.] See what a difference the massaging made:
Similarly, the acid from the dressing will further this process, removing the bitterness and leaving you with robust but tender greens.
What I learned from making the salad: One big bunch of kale made enough salad for four big meals (Mr. Wendy and I do not eat dainty portions). After dinner, I dumped the leftover--already dressed!--salad into a container and stuck it in the fridge. The next day, the leaves were still just as full and crunchy as the night before. I think, then, that this would be a great lunch alternative: make a bunch of salad on Sunday and take it to work throughout the week, and don't worry about toting along messy little containers of dressing.
The spirit of this salad is very much along the lines of a dozen Tuscan kale salads you'll find out there on the web, but I made it on the fly so the proportions and some of the "garnishes" are my own. Feel free to experiment to make this salad suit the tastes of you and your family. (Click here for a printer-friendly version of the recipe.)
1 bunch kale
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
1/4 c. fruity, full-bodied olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
pinch Kosher or sea salt
pinch red pepper flakes
Toppings (choose what sounds good to you!):
Kalamata olives, halved
toasted pine nuts
chick peas (rinsed)
Prepare the kale by cutting out the big stems and chiffonade the rest of the leaves (cut them into thin strips). Put the kale in a big ol' bowl and massage for 2-4 minutes. Literally dig in with your hands and rub the leaves between your fingers, until the leaves turn dark and start to smell like they're cooking.
Whisk all of the dressing ingredients together. Pour the dressing through a fine mesh sieve (to remove the chunks of garlic) onto the salad. Toss well.
Allow the salad to sit for five minutes or so while you prepare the rest of the salad items (toast the pine nuts, chop the olives, dice the tomatoes, etc.). Serve with a mild crusty bread.
Congratulations to Lynn Sitzes, winner of the Parfait Giveaway! And a huge thank you to all who entered.