Kale is the latest buzz word in trendy food. Over the last year we have been seeing kale recipes in cookbooks, restaurants and all over the food blogs. At first, I thought “Yuk”, kale is so hard to chew and didn’t look very appetizing to buy in supermarkets. However it was becoming so overwhelmingly popular, I had to try it out for myself. I started to research and experiment with recipes. I found that that kale is one of the super-foods packed with Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Fiber, Calcium, vitamin B6, Potassium, Folate and much more. This made it a perfect food to eat this very cold winter to help keep our bodies healthy.
Here are some pointers to working with kale.
1. Choose smooth lacinato kale for salads and curly kale for chips. Curly kale is fibrous and grassy tasting, so it’s not the best for salads.
Lacinato kale, also known as Tuscan kale, cavolo nero, or dinosaur kale (dino for short).
In general, lacinato kale works better. It’s a little bit sweeter and more delicate are edible, so you can use the whole leaf for salads.
2. Slice it thin and small, cutting out the rib from the center.
3. Rub it with a little oil: Kale leaves have a natural waxy coating that is great for protecting them from rain. Unfortunately, it also protects them from salad dressing, which does not make for a delicious salad. Rubbing the leaves with oil before dressing them actually removes this waxy coating, so that the leaves better absorb the dressing.
4. Choose the right dressing: Kale is a really sturdy green, so you can use a heavy sauce. Nut-based dressings work well. Or, vinaigrette with a lot of acid will break down the fibers in the kale and makes it easier to chew. This is not a typical lettuce salad, so the kale won’t wilt as easily; that means you can use a little more dressing than usual.
5. Massage the kale: instead of just tossing the kale leaves in dressing with salad tongs, use your hands to really mix everything together and make sure you’ve coated every leaf. Literally massage the kale. I use latex gloves to massage in the dressing on the kale.
The first thing I made was kale chips. I served it one night for dinner with a dipping sauce. The family loved it! Yay, I was quite relieved.
1 head kale, washed and thoroughly dried
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt, for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Remove the ribs from the kale and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Lay on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and toss with the olive oil and salt. Bake until crisp, turning the leaves halfway through, about 15-20 minutes. Watch for burning.
Kale Salad with Miso Sesame Dressing, Sweet Potato Croutons
1 bunch kale leaves, tough center stems removed, washed well, dried and torn into pieces.
2 tablespoon brown miso paste. (you can also use yellow or red miso)
¼ cup unprepared techina or 4 oz hummus
6 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup water
Place dressing ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Sweet Potato Croutons
1 sweet potato, washed, peeled, and shaved very thin with a mandolin into rounds or with a vegetable peeler into long ribbons
Kosher salt, for seasoning
Preheat oven to 400ºF
Mix shaved sweet potatoes gently, with just enough oil to coat each piece in a very thin layer. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle evenly with a little bit of kosher salt.
Place in the oven. Check after 10 minutes. You are looking for the potatoes to curl up slightly and have the texture and crunch of a potato chip. May need a few minutes extra.
Take the kale and place in a salad bowl and pour in the dressing then massage the dressing carefully all over the kale mixing and tossing. Do this at least 2 hours before serving.
Garnish with salad with the potato croutons