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How I Learned to Love Raw Kale

super kale3You’ll notice I did not say, “How I learned to tolerate raw kale.”

I really love kale. I crave it actually.

As I’m sure you noticed, kale is having a moment: Just about every health-conscious chef, restauranteur, and cookbook author offers kale, kale, and more kale among their menus and recipes — kale smoothies, kale pesto, kale juices, kale salads, kale pizzas… That’s because kale, like all dark, leafy vegetables, is super good for you.

Kale is so trendy it’s almost a joke. Even my husband has been known to say, “Tonight you’ll be having kale,” when the kids are bugging him about what we’re going to eat. Which kind of makes it sound like kale is not something that the kids would actually want to eat…

When I first discovered kale (and I’m embarrassed to say that wasn’t all that long ago), I used it to make kale chips and occasionally sautéed it and added it to one-pan suppers. I tried many kale salad recipes, and (with the exception of True Food’s Tuscan Kale Salad) I hated them all. To me, they tasted like going out in my backyard and eating the shrubbery.

But then I learned a couple tricks to eating raw kale, and they changed my view entirely. First, it’s true what they say about massaging your kale. It really helps the texture if you toss it with the dressing and other ingredients multiple times with a few minutes between each tossing. Second (and I think much more important, although I’ve never heard this anywhere), chop your kale leaves into smaller-than-bite-size pieces. Shoving a giant piece of stiff, prickly raw kale into your mouth just isn’t enjoyable, and I think that’s actually the main reason I never liked kale salads. (Oh and third, if you’re not already doing so, make sure you remove the thick stalks from the leaves before chopping your kale.)

I have served this kale salad at several of my cooking classes, even though it’s never been officially on the menu. Since almost everyone who’s had it has asked me for the recipe, here it is. Feel free to improvise once you get the kale chopped and in the bowl (those first few steps are crucial). You’ll notice it also calls for raw Brussels sprouts. I know: major world rocker.

Oh, and one more awesome thing about kale salad: It keeps!

2015-01-22 09.22.50-1Kale & Brussels Sprout Salad
1 bunch kale (I prefer the curly kale for this salad, but the dark Tuscan variety is good, too — or you can mix both)
1 lb. Brussels sprouts
1/2-3/4 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)
1/2-3/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup dried cherries (optional)
Salt & pepper

For the dressing:
1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 tbs. sherry vinegar
1½ tsp. Dijon mustard
1/3 cup grapeseed oil (or olive oil)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Using your hands or a knife, remove the thick stems from the kale and discard. Chop the leaves into smaller-than-bite-size pieces. Rinse and dry the kale. For the Brussels sprouts, trim the ends off each sprout and remove the thick outer leaves. Shred the sprouts with a knife (i.e. small pieces again). Combine kale, sprouts, almonds, coconut, and dried fruit in a large bowl (Another salad trick: Always use a larger bowl that you think you need). Combine ingredients for the dressing in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake well. Toss the dressing with the salad, wait 5 mins., then toss again. Taste and adjust with salt & pepper, and maybe toss again for good measure.

super kaleEat now. Eat for lunch tomorrow. Sauté and eat with eggs the day day after that.

Look for my Spring 2015 Class Schedule later this week! Brand-new offerings include Cooking with Power Foods, Eat More Vegetables,
and Spring Clean your Diet!

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