Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Obsessed with Kale

I'm generally irked by phrases such as 'black is the new pink' or '40 is the new 30,' but kale, my friends... kale is the new spinach. And my favorite way to eat it is raw.

Raw kale salads have been popping up with alarming frequency on almost every food blog I frequent. It's one of the healthiest vegetables out there, according to various nutritionists who extol its cholesterol-lowering and cancer-risk reducing effects. I've had requests for more vegetarian/vegan friendly recipes, and while my last post was beef-minded, one of the side-effects of traveling abroad for me is that I hate coming back to meat in the States. The massive hormone-fed drumsticks and flavorless flesh leave quite a bit to be desired, especially after eating far tastier versions abroad, so I take refuge in locally-grown vegetables. And so I thought I'd share one of my favorite (vegan) recipes with you.

I'm happy to say I caught on to kale's wondrousness fairly early in the game, one delightful afternoon in Ithaca, when we hosted a potluck with our neighbors on our porch. One of the neighbors brought a kale salad that had been marinated with nothing more than rice vinegar, olive oil, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and slivers of raw garlic and then tossed with some goat cheese and vegan sausage. Now, if you know me at all, you know it would take something of colossal import to make me partake in something like vegan sausage.

And it was the kale salad that did it. I went back for seconds, thirds and then cried a bit when it was done. I got the recipe and made it so frequently that it was the only thing I had left in my fridge on our moving day; I tried repaying the kindness of a friend, I, who had shown up to help, by forcing him to eat some of this delicious salad. Turns out rice vinegar and garlic don't agree with *everyone* at 10am.

Anyway, my obsession with raw kale didn't end there. I played around with caramelized onions,  learned to love its ceasar salad preparation, and thought it was the best vehicle for mustard vinagrette. But, now, I have found the kale salad that trumps all other kale salads: The Garlicky Kale Salad.

I found this salad one desperate lunch hour at the Whole Foods near my gym. I usually hate the prepared food bars, even at WF, but once my obsessive eyes spotted kale, I had to give in. I came home, devoured the salad, and swore I wouldn't rest until I figured out the recipe. And the great thing about WF is that they list the ingredients under their dish labels, so it actually wasn't as dramatic as I was prepared for it to be. So, I give you Garlicky Kale Salad and dare you to not LOVE this. And it's gloriously healthy to boot.

Garlicky Kale Salad
2 cups raw kale, torn off of the stem and chopped roughly
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp tahini
1 Tbsp water
1-1.5 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp soy sauce (WF asks for liquid amino acids, but this works just fine as a substitute)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1-2 cloves garlic, finely grated

Drizzle the olive oil over the kale and massage into individual pieces (this helps loosen up the kale and is why you don't need to marinate this salad for the 8 hours that some other kale salads can require). Next, combine the tahini, water, lemon juice, soy sauce and garlic and douse the salad. Again, massage it in. Finally, add black pepper to taste. Refridgerate for 5 minutes and then serve. It will only get better with time, so feel free to make plenty for leftovers.

There are obviously other things on my mind of late, most importantly Japan and the unfolding tragedy over there.  Interesting tid-bit: the Japanese love Kale so much, culinarily and aesthetically, that they introduced it ornamentally to their gardens. The people of Japan are in my thoughts right now, especially the workers at the nuclear plants and the hazards they're facing. If you're looking for some aid organizations to contribute to, here's a short list. (Just a note: I've heard that the phone companies' 'text-to-donate' plans can take up to 90 days to reach folks in need).

Doctors Without Borders
Red Cross
Google's compiled list of resources

1 comment:

darren said...

Just bought some kale...