Turn Over a New Leaf–with Kale!
Kale is the new black, don’t you know? Although it’s been around for ages, the vibrant green veggie is fast becoming a popular “superfood,” popping up on menus everywhere and being lauded by nutritionists for its exceptional health benefits. Perhaps you’ve read my previous blog where I mention kale is as wholesome as it gets–even one cup exceeds your daily value of vitamins A, C, and K. Not to mention it’s a great source of lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids which support eye health, specifically the macula. I could go on about how it’s good for fiber, detoxification, linked to lower cholesterol and reduced risk of heart disease, but as a foodie and home chef, my favorite way to promote kale is through its versatility in recipes, including the one below. I reverse engineered this recipe from one I tasted recently at Whole Foods. I have to say the great thing about my habit of culinary experimentation and working at this office is having regular access to a willing set of guinea pigs, I mean staff, willing to sample my creations…for the safety and benefit of your tastebuds, of course.
Kale Salad with Cranberries and Almonds (aka “The Macular Degeneration Salad”)
For the Salad
10 oz bag of fresh curly (not Tuscan) kale (such as from Trader Joe’s)
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup almonds, coarsely chopped
For the Vinaigrette
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1/8 cup + 1 tablespoon of white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 medium shallot, finely minced
1 garlic clove, smashed and very finely minced
1 tablespoon honey
½ tablespoon white granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon dried oregano
few pinches and kosher salt and turns of freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Note: the proportions above are a general guideline for this salad. I usually like my vinaigrette on the tangy and sweet side, so I tend to add a bit more white balsamic and honey or sugar, so once you shake everything up together, taste it and simply adjust the seasonings to your liking.
1) Chop kale into medium size strips, removing as much of the hard central ribs of the leaves as possible. Transfer to large salad bowl. Pour dried cranberries and almonds on top of kale. Set aside.
2) In a glass jar or medium size Tupperware, combine vinaigrette ingredients, seal tightly and shake well to mix (about 20 vigorous shakes).
3) Taste vinaigrette and adjust seasonings/vinegar according to your preference. The vinaigrette should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and have a mild orange color with flecks of red, green, and purple.
4) Pour about 4-6 tablespoons of the prepared dressing over the kale salad and toss gently to coat. Sample a leaf and gradually add more dressing as you wish. The end product should have a nice shiny gloss to it.
5) Although kale is fairly robust versus other leafy greens, too much can wilt the salad and make it clumpy, especially if you plan to serve it later in the day. You can refrigerate it before serving to let the flavors marinate, but this salad is best enjoyed the same day.