I’m a fan of so many things. Since we’re strictly discussing things of the edible variety here, I will refrain from sharing my entire list. I will say that my fanaticism for foods seem to ebb and flow – mostly with the seasons and my mood. Right now I’m a fan of fresh strawberries. They can’t be beat. Plucked at their peak, they smell so good I almost don’t want to eat them. But I do. And then they somehow manage to taste better than they smell. Magical ruby gems, those early summer strawberries.
Although I’m a fan of many things, I don’t consider myself a worshiper of much at all. I do, however, worship kale. I really do.
Why? I thought you’d never ask.
Kale is as delicious raw as it is cooked. It is considered one of the world’s healthiest foods and scores a perfect 1000 on that newfangled food rating system that Whole Foods recently adopted called the ANDI (Aggregate Nutrient Density Index). It grows easily and year round in moderate climates like San Francisco. It is affordable. It can be the main attraction or the demure understudy. I’ve even whipped up a batch of kale pesto, substituting raw kale for fresh basil. That recipe alone is worthy of another post. Seriously, what’s not to love? Kale is divine perfection.
Before this post turns into a sermon, I’ve got a kale salad recipe to share. Actually, I’ve got two. Upon trying and tinkering with both, I’ve created a hybrid version that combines my favorite components of both. I’ll include both recipes and my notes and you can take it from there.
The first recipe is from Hazel’s friend, Tali Biale. I met Tali once a few years ago in Brooklyn. She was working as a pastry chef at Gramercy Tavern at the time. She cooked an incredible dinner for a big group of random, friendly people at her apartment that she shared with an astounding number of roommates. She made steak sandwiches with chimichurri sauce and homemade French fries. I think she said it was an “easy Sunday dinner.” I remember thinking that Tali’s roommates were the luckiest people on earth because that “easy dinner” was the best meal I’d had in months. Flash forward three years and Tali is working on a farm in upstate Vermont that makes maple syrup. She sent an email to friends that Ellie forwarded to me, asking if anyone wanted to buy “possibly the best maple syrup you ever tasted.” Yes, please! At the very bottom of the message, in unassuming lowercase letters, was a simple recipe for Raw Kale Salad…
and a recipe for my new favorite thing in the world, raw kale salad:
–de-stem a bunch of kale and cut small
–put in a bowl and salt generously
–knead the kale, smushing in with your hands–this will start to release some of the water and make it softer
–toss with olive oil, sesame oil, balsamic vinegar and a good amount of maple syrup (seriously)
–sprinkle with sesame seeds
this shit will change your life.
It’s true. The salad is a potential life changer. I can’t stop eating it. I’ve tinkered with it quite a bit, adding toasted pumpkin seeds, thinly sliced red onion and avocado (borrowing ideas from the next recipe). I want to try it with grapefruit slices.
The salty sister to the former salad’s sweet, this next salad can hold her own. I got the recipe from my new friend Shekinah, who served it for dinner with grilled salmon and white wine on her sunny patio in Oakland. It is officially called a “Massaged Kale Salad,” but I don’t like the word “massage” in a recipe. It makes me un-hungry. However, it is worth noting that raw kale must be kneaded or smushed or scrunched so it loses its toughness. Raw kale needs love.
1 pound kale
1 avocado, chopped roughly
1/2 red onion (sliced in half moons)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sunflower sprouts
1/2 cup alfalfa sprouts
1/3 cup Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup flax or olive oil
Combine Bragg’s and lemon juice in a medium bowl and slowly add olive/flax oil while whisking. Salt and pepper to taste. Add onions and allow to marinade while you prepare the rest of the dish
Place seeds in a skillet over medium/low heat and toast until fragrant
Slice kale in 1/4″ slices – take your time! This is an important part!
Add kale to dressing and MASSAGE until all ingredients are well combined. Sing a song. Daydream. Whistle.
Mix in sprouts and seeds.
Add avocado and gently mix
Strain off any extra dressing and enjoy!
All hail the mighty kale.