We were eating kale before it was cool.
Honestly, this salad has been a staple at our family’s meals for years, and every time I serve it to someone new, I get asked for the “recipe.” So after many awkward conversations of “well, you just put it together with other stuff…” I actually did come up with one that I share when anyone asks.
I *may* have squealed a bit when I saw that the Green Bean Delivery box included kale, and again when I saw that it was Italian lacinato kale, which I hadn’t tried yet with this salad. The leaves are more rubbery than grocery store kale, not as “spiky,” with flatter stalks. I also got two beautiful limes in the box, which were a perfect addition.
Most varieties of home-garden kale are a bit more tender and can more readily be eaten like spinach or greens. Almost all kale I have purchased at the grocery store has been very tough and needs to be broken down in some way – either by cooking, marinating, or mashing up like this salad. (Note: This salad’s proper name is “Massaged Kale Salad,” but I always get a bit uncomfortable with the idea of “massaging” vegetables. So I usually just say “Kale Salad.” I know, real descriptive.)
We started with a quick wash on the beautiful bunch of kale. (Again, thoughts of green and green-blue paint colors…)
Then, the most fun part of pulling the leaves off the stalks. Essentially, just grab the stalk with your left hand, and then the leaves with your right hand and slide them away from one another. The edible leaves will come right off the stalk.
You’ll end up with a pile of beautiful leaves, which you can then roughly chop or tear into bite-sized pieces. Throw all the pieces into a gallon-sized freezer or storage bag.
Then you want to start making the dressing, right in the bag: a few tablespoons of local honey, 1/8 c extra virgin olive oil, a few twists of fresh cracked pepper…
…1/2 a fresh squeezed lemon or lime, and a 1/2 teaspoon of cracked sea salt or kosher salt. The secret ingredient that brings everything together is 2 tablespoons of guacamole. We always keep a few bags of Wholly Guacamole in our fridge and freezer for a quick snack or to add to recipes – the fat in the avocados is unbeatable. (You can obviously use fresh avocados – we have just found that lining up their ripe-window with your need-to-use-them-window is tricky, and our boys eat more guacamole than you would believe.)
Once you have the dressing in the bag, squeeze all the air out and seal tightly. Then start mashing! This takes longer with more rubbery kales, and much shorter with garden-fresh kale (our kale-towers in the backyard are almost ready t0 start harvesting!). I would say mash and smash for about 2-3 minutes. What you are trying to achieve here is two-fold: 1. Marinating the kale in the acid of the lemon/lime juice and olive oil, and 2. Breaking down the fibers of the kale with the fresh ground pepper and cracked sea salt. (This is why I stress using fresh ingredients whenever you can. Canned lime/lemon juice is great for some things, but won’t be as strong, and fresh cracked pepper and salt provide the rough edges that pre-ground and table salt don’t.)
After about 5 minutes, open the bag and try a leaf. You can adjust the sweetness, saltiness, and acid levels. If you’re questioning the size of your bunch of kale, try adding less of the ingredients at the beginning so you can adjust up at this point.
For the toppings, I stick to the rule of 1 nut or seed, 1 dried fruit, and 1 cheese and start with a tossing in a small handful of each. Some of our favorite combos are:
Pepitas, dried cranberries and goat cheese
Sliced almonds, dried blueberries and sharp cheddar
Pine nuts, dried apricots, and parmesan
This is sure to be a crowd pleaser – making it is really fun, and good to get little hands involved in mashing the bag of kale!
“Massagaed” Kale Salad
1 bunch of kale, stalks removed and discarded, leaves chopped or torn into bite-sized pieces
1/2 lemon or lime, juiced
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2-1 tsp fresh cracked sea salt or kosher salt
1 tbs local honey
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1-2 tbs avocado or guacamole (optional)
Toppings: 1/4 c each to taste:
Cheese (feta, parmesan, goat, sharp cheddar, etc…)
Dried fruit (cranberries, blueberries, apricots, raisins, etc…)
Seeds or nuts (pepitas, pine nuts, slivered almons, chopped walnuts, sesame seeds, etc…)
Directions: Place kale and dressing ingredients into a gallon storage or freezer bag, squeeze out all the air and seal. Mash the bag for about 2-3 minutes until the kale is tender and alter dressing ingredients to taste. Dump kale in bowl and toss with 1/4 c of one cheese, one dried fruit and one seed/nut.