In recent visits from France to England, I am always pleasantly surprised at how kale is served in restaurants as either a side or perhaps accompanying a Sunday roast. And as someone who lives in a country where kale is nearly impossible to find, I am normally over exited like a little girl on Christmas morning at the thought that I will again see kale on restaurants menus.
Having lived in New York City for fives years right at the time when kale was becoming the trendy new super-food and the Queen of leafy-greens, I became accustomed to seeing kale everywhere. In juices, in smoothies and sold as chips. I could even buy kale at corner bodegas – it was for sure the only fresh item I found there. The most common way, offered in nearly every restaurant, was the raw kale salad.
Now I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on London restaurants, so if there are places where I can get a kale salad besides Whole Foods, please let me know and I will be sure make that a must-eat location on my next trek across the Channel. For those that have never had a raw kale salad before, I want to clear up a common misconception about the key step.
The Kale Massage.
Yes, this action requires capitalization. It’s that important. Kale is naturally a tougher green, which is why it is so chock full of fiber (which most of us do not get enough of each day). Which is why massaging my kale takes the raw kale salad from something that people might think a crazy person eats to the favorite dish during a dinner party. As kale is highly alkaline vegetable, it has the perfect base taste for adding additional flavors and ingredients. I can choose to massage my kale with lemon juice and olive oil. Sometimes I go for lime and orange juice. For a vinegar kick, I love mixing sherry and red wine vinegar. And when I’m serving it to a group of kale-virgins, I opt for a fresh and creamy homemade Caesar dressing.
Once the kale is dressed, that’s when the fun begins. I don’t worry about getting my hands dirty and dig in. Fingertips kneading the chopped green leaves, I break down the tough fibers letting the dressing marinate each piece.
Kale never fails to take care of me, cleansing my blood with each bite and providing the detoxification and antioxidants I need to stay healthy. It keeps my bones strong with more calcium than a glass of milk and if I have a day where I don’t want to eat meat, I know kale will give me the iron I need.
The least I can do is give my kale a good massage in return.
Christmas Kale Salad
-serves 3 to 4-
For the holidays, I wanted to create a salad with the colors of Christmas and given that kale is already a vibrant green, it was easy to find ingredients to round out the other colors. The Parmesan cheese at the end is just like a dusting of snow that everyone wishes for on Christmas Eve!
1 bunch of kale (preferably the Cavalo Nero/Tuscan/Lacinato variety)
1 medium-sized red beet, raw peeled and shredded
¼ hazelnuts, crushed in a sealable plastic bag
¼ cup cranberries (or raisins if you want a less tart fruit)
¼ - ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 shallot, diced
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup sherry vinegar
¼ cup red wine vinegar
Splash of apple cider vinegar
Salt & pepper
- 1 Thoroughly wash and de-stem each leaf of kale. Here is a how-to on de-stemming.
- 2 Combine dressing ingredients together into a jar and shake. Let the dressing sit while you cut the kale so the shallots absorb the vinegar flavors.
- 3 Chiffonade the kale and place aside in a large bowl.
- 4 Add dressing to the kale and massage the kale for 1-2 minutes. Let kale sit at room temperature.
- 5 Peel and shred the beet.
- 6 Place nuts in a sealable plastic bag and crush until each nut is broken into different sized pieces.
- 7 When ready to serve, add the beets, cranberries, hazelnuts and Parmesan cheese.
Kristen Beddard launched The Kale Project in April, 2012 as an initiative to re-introduce kale to France. By working with local farmers and restaurants, kale is slowly becoming more available in Paris. Through the use of entirely digital tactics such as blogging, blogger influence and social media, she has created a large community of kale supporters in the country. The Project plans to expand outside of Paris in 2013. You can read about the journey from farm to market to fork and discover more delicious kale recipes at the site, www.thekaleproject.com, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.