Here I am with another recipe for kale. I just love the stuff — as a pesto, in my smoothies, and lately raw in my salads. It wasn’t before I discovered a technique called massaging that I actually considered tossing the bitter greens into my salad rotation. I was reading one of my favorite blogs, Kath Eats Real Food, when I learned that you could actually “rub” your kale to tenderize it. It’s the bitterness that actually makes kale unpalatable, but with a little tender and care, eating it raw is actually quite delicious. My first attempt was a simple combination of olive oli, lemon juice, honey, kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. After massaging the kale between my fingers for at least five minutes, I could see that its volume had decreased at least by half. I took a bite and was surprised by the absence of bitterness. It does have a bit of a bite, but only equivalent to the tang of the lemon juice. The balance of each flavor and texture was delivered in one perfect bite: rich, earthy, sweet, salty, sour and chewy.
If you can’t tell by now, this is my most recent obsession. I decided to experiment the other night for dinner by incorporating different textures into the salad. But I could only use the ingredients I had on hand. I saw a small bag of dried cherries I purchased weeks ago, begging to be used up. I emptied the thin plastic bag to find the cherries had definitely dried up a bit. To make sure they didn’t stick to our fillings (the dentist loves us), I decided to soak them in a little water with a splash of Cointreau (any other orange liqueur would do). It’s not really necessary to booze them up, but I love the extra pop of flavor it provides.
Side note: For recipes that require a quality alcohol, I buy the airport size bottles. That way I don’t have to spend an absurd amount of money of booze. Fruit liqueurs and bourbon are my most frequented spirits.
My most recent work desk snack (I enjoy a small snack between breakfast and lunch, so I like to have healthy options right at my fingertips), has been macadamia nuts. They are great for digestion and contain antioxidants that help protect the body against certain types of cancer. I found some leftover in the pantry that didn’t make it to my desk jar. After roasting them to nutty perfection, I had the perfect crunch component my salad needed.
The dressing is an apple cider and olive oil based vinaigrette with tart mustard and sweet honey. Its tangy sweetness plays perfectly with the sour dried cherries and salty roasted nuts. Once tossed and chilled, the boyfriend and I agreed this was salad was surprisingly addictive. In fact, we picked every piece out of the bowl until it was stark empty. Since, we’ve enjoyed this exact same salad three times as a side for a dinner. Its pairs perfectly with grilled meats and vegetables, pasta and pizza. It’s incredibly satisfying, but not a bit heavy on your stomach. In fact, you’ll feel better after consuming a bowl of this salad – energized, satisfied and nourished.
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Massaged Kale Salad with Dried Cherries and Macadamia Nuts
serves 2-3, easily doubles
4 heaping cups kale, torn into bite size pieces (1/2 -3/4 bunch of kale)
2 tablespoons dried cherries
¼ cup raw, unsalted macadamia nuts
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon honey
salt and fresh cracked pepper
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
Remove rib from kale and tear the part into bite size pieces. Add to a sieve for rinsing. Run under cold water until all dirt is removed. Add kale pieces to a salad a spinner and spin until dry. Set aside.
Add cold water (optional: a splash of liqueur) to a small bowl and add cherries to soak for at least 20 minutes. Remove from liquids and chop into smaller pieces. Set aside
Place a dry skillet over medium heat. Add whole macadamia nuts and toss occasionally until toasted on all sides, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat. Once slightly cooled, add to a plastic baggie. Using a heavy bottomed skillet, smack the bagged nuts until broken into smaller pieces. Set aside
In a medium size bowl, add apple cider vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, dijon mustard, honey, salt and fresh cracked pepper. Whisk vigorously until the vinaigrette comes together, the color will be a light hue of gold.
Add torn pieces of kale to dressing bowl, and begin massaging. Move the kale through the dressing until it coats the kale evenly. Using your fingertips, gently rub the kale pieces until slightly wilted, about 5 minutes. Taste for bitterness. If there is still a bite, continue massaging.
- Add the dried cherry pieces, macadamia pieces and parmesan cheese. Toss gently until ingredients are equally distributed. Serve immediately or chill in the fridge until ready to eat (the kale will continue to tenderize if you chill it).