In the kale post (and in the soon-to-be released video), I lament the sad state of kale salad everywhere. Mistreated, disrespected kale garners undeserved Yuck Faces and eye rolls far too often. “NOT KALE,” I have heard many a time.
So why does this happen? 3 reasons:
- The cook fails to remove the big, chewy stems, evident in the picture above.
- S/he then tears or hacks the leaves into big, indigestible chunks (as opposed to the delicate shreds the vegetable deserves, pictured directly below).
- Adding insult to injury, the cook now throws the kale into the salad bowl as if it were ordinary lettuce.
To which I must bellow, Unfair to the eater and the kale! Why, for the love of Michelle, would one create any barriers to ingesting this nutritional powerhouse? Of course kale teems with fiber and vitamin A. But Did You Know that every bite also delivers loads of calcium and potassium? Well, it does (and you can read up on vitamin stats to your heart’s content at this link.)
But the primary reason that I find kale so easy to love is its sturdiness. The stuff holds up under an avalanche of pretty much any dressing you want to slather on it, including heavy ones based in mayo or nut butter. (i provide an easy one with these ingredients below.)
In fact, it holds up a little too well. Which is why I recommend the kale massage, in which you place the de-stemmed, ribbon-cut slices in a bowl with olive oil and salt, put on some sexy music, and give it a good rub-down for about 2 minutes. The results, especially when tossed with some sweet crunchy cabbage or romaine, will make your palate smile.
Kale salad follows the same rules as other salads: 3 pieces of flair added to the kale/cabbage combo. Some suggestions here:
- Apple, carrot, beet, and radish are all delightful for crunch; grate any one of them, or cut in a fine julienne.
- Dried fruit adds wonderful chewiness; for a juicier sweet, sliced kiwi and grapefruit work beautifully.
- Add roasted veggies like squash or cauliflower.
- Sprouts and microgreens provide a nice flavor contrast when sprinkled on at the end.
- For meat-eaters, kale and pig are friends. Crackling bacon is a glorious kale salad adjunct for the unapologetic carnivore.
- Roasted walnuts or tamari-spiked sunflower seeds add meatless crunch.
As usual, a main salad can go more flair-wild. Should you choose the nut butter dressing here, you’ll get some protein. But add more if you like. In addition to the usual animal options, goat cheese is wonderful for vegetarians, smoked tempeh or coconut bacon for vegan.
For a fully-spelled out recipe for a superb, flair-crazy vegan kale salad, see Teagan’s amazing detox version here. (I eat this one about once a month, but I always shred the kale rather than tearing it roughly as she suggests.) Or make up your own, and instead of carefully choosing three pieces of flair from the list above, go crazy with 5 or 6 or even more. And the fine thing is, kale’s chewy goodness won’t get lost in the shuffle no matter how many things you throw at it.