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Massaging your kale

Here’s one of the mysteries of the vegetable world revealed for you. How do you make kale more palatable? I’m a fan of kale as long as it’s in something (like a green smoothie) or flavored (as in cheesy kale chips). I’ve never really liked it that much all by itself. Then I discovered the secret of massaging kale.

Sometimes the secret to loving a vegetable is in its preparation. If you just pluck off a leaf of kale and take a bite, it has a somewhat bitter taste that is not very inviting. But lo and behold, if you massage it with lemon juice, sea salt, and olive oil, it becomes so different that you’ll hardly recognize it.

Spinach is a vegetable I have always loved. I cook it just to lightly wilt it over the heat and then toss it with—yep, you guessed it—lemon juice, sea salt, and olive oil. Prepared this way, spinach is succulent and delicious. It's not really cooked, just warmed and wilted a bit, and the combination of freshly squeezed lemon juice, a touch of sea salt, and olive oil gives it a distinctly Mediterranean flavor. When you eat spinach like this, you can understand why the Mediterranean people include so many fresh vegetables in their diet--they know the right way to prepare them. The flavor when spinach is made like this is a far cry from that brassy-looking spinach you get at school cafeterias and in a lot of restaurants. They cook it until it turns color, and then they often douse it in vinegar. I actually used to like it that way until I figured out how to make it better.

Preparing raw kale by massaging it with the same ingredients yields kale that tastes like spinach the way I love it best. Massaging it makes it seem almost as though it is cooked, even though the enzymes and nutrients have been preserved. You get the benefits of raw kale, but it tastes cooked, and I'll be willing to wager that it tastes better than you've had it before. If you want still more flavor, try shaving a few curls of Parmesan cheese on top; if you can find it, authentic Parmigiano Reggiano is the best type to use. Perhaps a grind of black pepper, and it's ready.

When I read this article, I was startled to find this trick, because I’d never heard of it before. Now I want to know the trick to making other vegetables taste their best. Especially broccoli.

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