It’s on restaurant menus, snack advertisements and at your local farmer’s market. You hear everywhere that you should should be eating more kale. It is considered one of life’s most nutritious foods, packed with vitamins C and K plus calcium, fiber and antioxidants. I love kale but many do not. While it can be bitter and that’s why some disguise it with fruits in smoothies or eat it in bags baked with cheese and chili flavor – I don’t think the taste is the problem. It’s the texture. Especially if you have it raw in a salad. There are too many times when I order a kale salad in a restaurant and it is almost inedible because it is just too rough and I’m afraid I’ll choke or stab myself. Also if it’s too wilted and I find myself chewing forever.
There are a few varieties of kale. There’s lacinto or dinosaur kale while has very wide, flat, dark green leaves that are bumpy (far right). There’s red kale with dark red stems and green leaves (center). Then most popular is curly kale which is brighter green and more curly and spiky(left). Thus a problem for raw salads if not prepared properly. So the magic to prepping raw kale for a salad is…..wait for it…..the massage. Yes. You must massage the kale Leaves (after removing stems) in some fresh lemon juice and/or salt. And this isn’t a little light pressure stir with some tongs. This is a 3 – 5 minute deep tissue massage with your hands. It makes all the difference in the world to being able to enjoy and chew the kale. Here’s an adapted recipe we make at my house for a favorite kale salad from Picture Cook: See. Make. Eat. by Katie Shelly. This book if fun because it’s all pictures and no instruction (but you kind of have to have some kitchen and cooking knowledge). I use this preparation anytime I’m using raw kale. However you an substitute dressings and veggies. This is a great asian dressing that marries the sweet apples and spicy ginger and onion.
Chelsea’s Kale Salad
1 bunch kale, stems removed
1/2 lemon – squeezed
1 avocado, diced
1 apple, peeled and chopped into squares
1/2 cup almonds (optional)
a few slices of red onion (optional)
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
In a large bowl tear kale leaves into bite sized pieces. Squeeze lemon juice over kale and massage with your hands for about 3 minutes until kale is pliable and not sharp. Add avocado and mash with your hands to incorporate.
Prepare dressing in a small jar and shake to combine.
Add apples, nuts and onions to kale. Drizzle with dressing and toss everything together.