Kale salads are all the rage these days—packed with uber-healthy, raw nutrients. Still, some diners remain on the fence, given the leaf’s chewy texture. Kale lovers know a few tricks to soften things up and win the skeptics over. A few fruity additions are sure to help.
First, cut leaves into small pieces to make each mouthful feel more manageable—and less likely to strain an overexercised jaw. Massage the cut leaves with clean hands and a pinch of salt before dressing them, until they darken slightly in color, loosen up and feel less stiff. The process begins to break down the cell structure even before our teeth have a go. The last trick is to dress the salad at least 15 minutes before serving. The acidic citrus juices work to soften the leaves as well.
In fact, one of the beauties of a kale salad is that the leaves don’t become soggy, as lettuce does when it sits too long, making it a fabulous make-ahead choice. Think party or holiday gathering.
Pepitas are shelled pumpkin seeds. You’ll find them in the nut section at Trader Joe’s.
Serves 4 to 6
- One bunch Lacinato (often called dino or dinosaur) kale
- Sea salt
- 1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)
- 2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon white miso
- 1 small clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
- 3 satsuma oranges, peeled
- 1 large carrot, peeled
- 1/4 cup pepitas
- 1 large shallot, finely sliced
- Seeds from 1 medium pomegranate
- 3 tablespoons shelled pistachios
- 1 to 2 ounces feta cheese, cut into small cubes
- Clean kale and remove stems—either by running a knife along the lengthwise rib (on either side) or by tearing the stem out by hand. Cut leaves lengthwise and then crosswise in 1/2 inch wide pieces. Place into a large salad bowl. Sprinkle kale with a small amount of salt. With clean hands massage the salt into the kale leaves for 1 minute or so. You will see the leaves darken in color and feel them begin to soften.
- Process tahini, lemon juice, miso, garlic, water, orange juice and ginger in a small food processor or blender. Add more water as needed to create a thick, but pourable dressing.
- Cut satsumas crosswise, then separate segments into triangles.
- Shave peeled carrot into wide ribbons with a vegetable peeler. Then cut crosswise into 1 inch pieces.
- Toast pepitas in a small, dry skillet over medium heat. Shake the pan frequently to prevent them from burning. Cook until pepitas are covered in many places with golden brown spots. Cool.
- To assemble salad, toss kale with enough dressing to coat the leaves well, but not drench them (refrigerate any remaining dressing for another salad). Toss in oranges, carrots and shallot and allow the salad to sit for at least 15 minutes. Before serving sprinkle pepitas, pomegranate seeds, pistachio nuts and feta cheese over the top.