I was in the checkout line at the grocery store the other day, trying to de-crinkle my coupons and keep Bucket Head from tearing into an eye-level packet of M&Ms, when my weary eyes landed on THIS:

And I said to myself, “Damn. Bitch stole my look!” Because seriously, Eva and I could be twins. Especially in the kitchen.  Just try to tell me I’m wrong.

The only diff I can see is that Eva’s gently stirring a fattening batter of some kind and I’m working up a sweat making a raw kale salad.

Silly Eva. Nobody believes you, darlin’. I could floss my teeth with one of your skinny arms. There is no way in hell you are eating anything that starts with a batter.

And since swimsuit season approacheth faster than a speeding Epilady, I thought this week would be as good a time as any to share with you one of my favorite healthy salads, made with the hottest green-leafy thang on the market. Oh yes my friends, haven’t you heard? “Kale is the new spinach,” according to Mitch on Modern Family.

I am cuckoo for kale. It is absolutely packed with antioxidants, phytonutrients, and fiber. Sadly, most people think that you have to cook the hell out of kale in order to enjoy it. Not true. If you cook any veggie too much, you will cook out most of its nutrients. So don’t do that! Instead, try this raw recipe. It’s a winner.

I tasted a version of it for the first time at the Whole Foods salad bar and it was love at first bite. Then I came home and googled it and have been experimenting with my own version for a few months. It’s very simple, healthy, and satisfying.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 bunch of fresh kale
  • 1/2 of a red bell pepper
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 ripe avocado (optional)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder

 

Wash your kale, then pull the leaves off the woody stems. If you make juices or soups, save the stems in your freezer. If not, just feed them to the worms or let your kids sword fight with them outside until someone gets poked in the eye.

Dry the kale leaves. I use a “Spin n’ Stor” produce spinning bag that I bought for $3 in the produce section of my grocery store, but you could use a salad spinner or even tea towels. Whatever.

Now it’s time to cut up the kale. This is the hardest part of this recipe. It is critical for the kale to be chopped into pretty small pieces. I like to stack a bunch of leaves on top of each other and then roll them up into a big kale doobie. Then you run your sharpest knife through the roll to make what le Francais call a “chiffonade”:

Run your knife through the pile a few times in the opposite direction just to make sure you don’t miss anything. I would say you don’t want any pieces bigger than a nickel.

Put all your finely chopped kale into a very big bowl.

Next, we add the dressing ingredients, right onto the kale. You need equal measures of fresh lemon juice and good quality extra virgin olive oil. For one bunch of kale, I would start with 2 tablespoons of each. You can always add more if you feel like the salad is too dry.

Add a nice hearty pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste). I swear by pink Himalayan sea salt from Trader Joe’s.

Now the fun part. It is time to massage the kale. Yes, you heard me. Go wash your hands again and take off your grandmother’s wedding ring.

Raw kale is pretty tough. But we don’t want to cook all the good nutrients out, right? So what we’ll do is let the lemon juice and salt “cook” the kale for us. It’s just like making a ceviche with fresh fish and lime juice.

Put your hands into the salad and squeeze that kale, honey! Squeeze it, rub it, run your hands back and forth with a big dollop of kale in between. It. Feels. So. Good! And the kale likes it too. Believe me, this is the money shot.

Unlike heavy petting in the back of your daddy’s Oldsmobile, you can’t massage your kale too much. I say, do it for at least 5 minutes. You’ll know when to stop… the kale will tell you. It shrinks down to about half its original size when you’ve squeezed all the toughness out of it. Yeah, I said it.

Now chop up that red pepper into a small dice and toss it in. Half of a red pepper is plenty. The kale is the star of this show, not the pepper.

Next, I want you to toast your pine nuts in a dry skillet. Watch them closely. Those expensive little suckers will burn faster than you can shout “STOP HITTING YOUR SISTER, GOD DAMMIT!” (Hypothetically speaking, of course!)

Once your nuts have cooled off (wink wink), add them to the salad.

If you like avocado, chop one up and add it last. I always do. The creaminess of the avocado is magical with the crisp texture of the kale.

Now sprinkle on some garlic powder (about 1/8 – 1/4 tsp.) and give the whole thing a gentle stir. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and/or lemon juice & olive oil if needed.

The Bearded Iris’s Raw Kale Salad

Eat immediately! This salad does not keep very well. The kale soaks up all the dressing and it will taste a little dry the next day. I learned this the hard way when I brought it for a pot luck once and it sat around for 5 hours before dinner was finally served. Don’t you hate that?! So embarrassing. Everyone still seemed to like it, but it was not nearly as good as it is when you eat it right away. Oh well, live and learn.

So give this baby a try and let me know how you like it. Full disclosure, my kids do not care for this dish, yet. But I’m not giving up that easily. Also, you should know, if you have a great big serving of this bad boy, I can guaran-damn-tee you that you will have the best poop of your life the next day. My gift to you. Enjoy!

your friend,

-Iris

© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.