Sunday, October 4, 2015

Eat your greens—the versatile kale salad

Leftover salad that tastes even better the next day? Yes, it’s possible.

Enter the kale salad.

Fall Kale Salad: Fig-Balsamic Vinaigrette, Roasted Heirloom Winter Squash,  Pecans, Pomegranate, & Black Mission Figs

For many foodies, kale salad is “so last year,” but when it comes to your health this is not a recipe that should be taken out of rotation. 

In every serving (1 heaping cup) of the Fall Kale Salad recipe below, there is 4 days’ worth of vitamin A, nearly 3 days’ worth of vitamin C, 20% each of your daily calcium and iron, 7g each of daily protein and fiber needs, 377mg of omega-3’s, and nearly half a months’ worth of vitamin K! Kale is also a good source of B vitamins (including folate), magnesium, and potassium.

As is usually the case, the recipes I post are a product of what is in season locally (including what is growing in my yard) and what is leftover in my refrigerator or stocked in my pantry. Don’t give up on the recipe if you don’t have all of the ingredients or they are expensive in your area! Below the recipe is a long list of substitutions that you can use to tailor this recipe to your taste, the season, and the ingredients you already have (or easily have access to).

Happy cooking and healthy eating!

Fall Kale Salad*

Ingredients-Salad Base
1 bunch of curly kale (the type most commonly seen at the grocery store)
Approximately 1-1/2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar (aged is best)
1-1/2 teaspoons fig jam, honey, or other sweetener
Approximately 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 cup cubed roasted or baked winter squash (acorn, butternut, or kabocha)
6-10 ripe figs, sliced or cubed
Arils of ½ medium pomegranate (see the Knife Skills #3: Pomegranates to see how to remove the arils from the fruit)
½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 -1/2 cup roasted, chopped walnuts or pecans

1.     Rinse kale and dry with a salad spinner or towel. Fold kale leaves in half so that the ribs are on one side and the curly part of the leaf is on the other; slice the ribs off with a knife and discard. Chop the leaves into roughly 1-2” square pieces and put into a large mixing bowl.

2.     Drizzle kale with the vinegar, sweetener, and oil. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper, then “massage.” This means grab handfuls of the kale mixture, make a fist to crush the leaves in you hand, then release. Repeat until all leaves are glistening and the volume of kale in the bowl is reduced by 1/3-1/2. Add more salt and pepper midway through this process.

3.     Taste one of the pieces of kale and adjust with vinegar, oil, salt and pepper until you achieve a flavor that tastes good to you (i.e. if too acidic add more oil, if not acidic enough add more vinegar, if the flavor doesn’t stand out after that add a bit more salt and pepper). As with all salads, you should have enough dressing just to coat the leaves but not pool in the bottom of the bowl.

4.     Mix in toppings and serve.

Serves: 6 medium-sided or 4 large salads

Storage: This salad tastes great for 2 days after you make it, so make it ahead or make extra to take for lunch the following day.

*Alternative Kale Salad Ingredients
Below are substitutions that you can make to the salad recipe above to create different flavors or make use of other ingredients you have at home.

Alternative Ingredients
·      Substitute other greens for the curly kale, including:
o   Swiss chard, other types of kale, or shredded collard greens.
·      Substitute another acidic ingredient for the balsamic vinegar, including:
o   Lemon/lime or orange juice, or other vinegars.
·      Substitute another sweetener, including:
o   Agave, honey, different jam, brown sugar, maple syrup.
·      Add other ingredients to the salad base/dressing, including:
o   Dijon or whole grain mustard, tahini or nut butters, herbs, spices.
·      Substitute different toppings, including:
o   Other fruit (apples, pears, orange slices, mango, berries, dried cranberries or other dried fruit),
o   Other vegetables (shredded carrots, cucumbers, peppers, artichoke hearts, avocado, radishes, sprouts, scallions, shallots, red cabbage, fennel, roasted Brussels sprouts),
o   Other nuts or seeds (pine nuts, sesame seeds, shaved coconut, macadamia nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews).
·      Add other ingredients to the toppings:
o   Legumes/Beans (edamame or other beans),
o   Grated or shaved hard cheeses (parmesan, asiago) or crumbled feta,
o   Cooked whole grain (quinoa, brown rice, etc.),
o   Croutons, fried strips of tortillas or wontons.

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