January is traditionally the month for revamping our diets and work out regimens. Adding greens to your meals is a good way to cut calories and boost your intake of many different vitamins and minerals. Kale Salad gets this done in a delicious and nutritious way.
Kale is a member of the Brassica family, which includes cabbage, broccoli, collards and Brussels sprouts. (Look for a Brussels sprouts tip at the end.) It is also one of the most nutritionally packed vegetables there is. One cup of raw kale contains only 34 calories and has more than a day’s requirement of Vitamin C, two days of Vitamin A and is a good source of minerals like potassium, copper, iron, manganese, and phosphorus. One cup also provides over 1000% of our daily requirement of Vitamin K.
(There are two instances when people may need to watch their Vitamin K intake. Those taking blood thinners should avoid Vitamin K rich food like kale. Also keep in mind that the oxalates in kale interfere with the absorption of calcium, so you may not be getting all the benefits of your dairy food items if you eat them with kale. )
Preparing kale for a kale salad is easy. It just takes a sharp knife and a large cutting board. (Those raw greens take up a lot of room!) Fold each leaf in half and then cut off the large woody stem in the middle. Make a tight bundle with a number of leaves and thinly slice them with a sharp knife. Give them a good rinse and a turn in a lettuce spinner and you’re good to go. Otherwise, place them in a bowl of cold water, shake them around a bit and lift them out into a colander and drain them really well. Lay them out on a layer or two of paper towels.
Some folks believe that the dressing has to be massaged into the raw kale to soften it. I DO mix the dressing in by hand, just to get it in all the nooks and crannies, but I’ve never found that actually massaging it in makes a difference.
The choice of other ingredients is limitless. I've added some suggestions at the end of the recipe.
Kale Salad with Dried Cherries
1 bunch of kale, stems cut off, washed and drained
3 tbls. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbls. fresh lemon juice
2 tsps. Dijon mustard
1/2 cup well toasted pine nuts
1/3 cup dried cherries
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place the kale in a large bowl. (Don’t underestimate the size of the bowl. You’ll need a lot of room for tossing.)
On a plate to catch the juices, cut the top and bottom off the orange and then cut down the sides to remove the peel. Cut each orange section away from the membrane, leaving a pretty orange supreme. Cut each one in half. Add to kale in bowl. Squeeze juice from remaining orange membranes over the kale.
In a little jar, mix together the olive oil, lemon juice and mustard. Put lid on and shake vigorously until well mixed. Pour dressing over kale and add remaining ingredients. With clean hands, toss the salad well, massaging the dressing into the leaves if you prefer. (I just mix it well.) Taste for seasoning and let stand for at least 20 minutes before serving. The salad gets even better as it sits, so it’s fine the next day and maybe even the day after that.
Wonderful Additions to Kale Salad:
Forget the orange and add cubes of roasted butternut squash.
Swap dried cranberries for the dried cherries.
Microwave a sweet potato. Cool and cut into cubes.
Shredded red cabbage
Any toasted nut – almonds or pistachios are tasty.
Finely diced red onion
Note about Brussels Sprouts:
Roasting Brussels sprouts is fabulous, but using them raw in a salad adds a great crunch and works particularly well in a kale salad. Cut off the woody ends and get rid of the tough outside leaves. Slice them super thinly with a knife or on a mandolin. Each Brussels sprout goes a really long way. For this salad, adding just 4 thinly sliced ones will make a big impact.