My new favorite salad is raw kale, which can be a tough sell to some people, but is really easy to love if you treat it right.
Besides deliciousness, a characteristic that trumps all else, it has more nutritional value for fewer calories than almost any other food around. It’s packed with standout nutrients that are antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and anti-cancer.
The trick is to soften the raw kale either one of two ways – either you massage the dressing into the kale by hand for several minutes (fun!), or you take the lazy way out and toss everything together in a bowl and then refrigerate it and let time do the work. It all depends on how soon you want to eat it.
My mother bought some Tuscan kale and asked me what to do with it. In explaining how to treat it, I reinvigorated my interest in kale. My mom raved about the salad she made with it, and I started playing around. This winner was born!
Another plus is this salad holds up very well over time, and begs to be made early. I forgot mine in the refrigerator for 3 days, and it was still wonderful when I pulled it out! The garnishes need to be applied at serving time, though, since basil won’t age well and the nuts will get soggy over time. The rest of it can stand up to the rigors of a rest in the refrig.
Recipe: Raw Rainbow Kale Salad of the Gods
- 1 bunch Tuscan Kale (also called lacinato or dinosaur kale)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3-4 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
- Pinch sea salt
- Pinch sugar (or a drizzle of agave)
- Pinch garlic powder (about 1/8 teaspoon)
- 1 yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped
- Chopped Kalamata olives
- Sliced cherry tomatoes (or seeded regular tomatoes)
- Craisins, hydrated in hot water
- Sliced mushrooms
- Toasted pine nuts
- Fresh basil cut into chiffonade
Wash, dry and cut the kale into very thin strips (think chiffonade); place in a large mixing bowl. Toss in oil, lemon juice, salt, sugar and garlic powder.
Massage method: If using the massage method, make sure your hands are squeaky clean (you should have done this before you began cooking anyway, right?) and roll up your sleeves. Using your bare hands, massage the kale by tossing it and rubbing it with your fingers until you feel it soften and you can see it wilt. This will take several minutes. Add your choice of add-ins, and toss to combine. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until serving time. When ready to serve, top with either or both garnishes.
Time method: As above, place kale and dressing ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add any or all of the add-ins, and stir to combine. Place in a covered container and refrigerate at least 24 hours (or 72 hours if you forget it like I did). When ready to serve, plate it and garnish with either or both of the garnishes.
- Sprinkle with ricotta salata or feta crumbles
- Add grilled chicken chopped into bite-size pieces
- Stir in a rinsed, drained can of cannellini beans
Source: Inspired by my mother, Helen Reinhold