Thursday, August 7, 2014

Kale Salad and a Secret Skill that will wow your friends

 The other day, I made kale salad three times! Firstly, for my husband to bring to work for his lunch (he is very close to finishing this degree, I am maximizing his study time by doling out lunches and dinners).

Secondly, for lunch while at my friend's home.

Finally, for myself for dinner, because the fridge was full of kale and that was the smart thing to do.

I could have made one big batch if I knew. I best like kale salad after it has sat in the fridge for 6 hours or so, the citrus in the dressing marinates the leaves, it is very nice.

Most of us have made kale salad (right?) So I am going to start right out with this 
Secret Kitchen Skill which will WOW your friends:
Most people have never seen this. Unless you have worked in restaurant kitchens, then maybe you have.

I learned it while working at a bakery in SF where needed to do cases of greens to cook into our quiches.

Do YOU enjoy TOUGH chewy FIBROUS stems in your kale dishes? Do you like carefully cutting the stems out of collard greens? NO, of course not, neither do I.

This is the fastest and easiest way to strip leafy greens from the stems. This works with kale,  swiss chard, collards, and most other vitamin filled leafy greens you could ever find.

Grab your bunch of farmers market kale, four fingers (two on each hand) and here is a (WOW) movie of my kale technique to explain it all better than my words will.

If you are right handed: take the base of the stem firmly in you left hand, and pinch with the thumb and forefinger of your right hand right at the place where the leaf begins on the stem. Keep pinching firmly, and rapidly pull your hands in opposite directions.

Watch your friends' jaws drop open. They will say, with quizzical looks "Whaa, how did that again!"

Collect the leafy greens in a pile and sent the stems into the juicer or compost pile.

*Disclaimer: If your kale is old as the hills, near dead and limp, this technique wont work. Get yourself to the market and buy some new vegetables.

Now that you have a beautiful pile of stem-less kale lets daydream about all the wonderful things you can do with it. saute, lasagna, chips...

I'm still on the salad. When the kale is super fresh, straight from the farm, it is sinful not to eat it raw! The fresh leaves is have such a great crunch. They are still full of water and life.

I like dinosaur (lacinato) kale, cut crosswise into 1/4 inch ribbons.

I also like the crinkly green kale, like the one in these photos, if it is young and tender. Just ripped off the stems, like I just showed you, and torn into a few smaller pieces.

Lemon or lime, sometimes a bit of apple cider vinegar and plenty of good olive oil makes the perfect dressing. And dont forget the sea salt, very important to generously salt the salad.

After that, it is all about what is around in the pantry. My favorite topping is toasted pumpkin seeds. Goat cheese or avocado, if I have one. Cold boiled potatoes are also really good in there.

For those craving animal protein, hard boiled eggs, sardines, or tuna fish turn it into a hearty meal.

Kale Salad with Pumpkin Seeds

a bunch of kale leaves
juice of lemon or lime
olive oil
pinch of salt
handfull of pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

Remove tough stems for kale with fantastic method mentioned above. Tear or slice leaves into bite sized pieces. Put into a bowl.

Squeeze citrus juice over the leaves (about 1/2 a lime per serving, 1/2 a lemon for 2 servings.) Drizzle olive oil on and a hearty pinch of sea salt.

With one (clean) hand, massage the kale. This is a important step if you cant wait around 6 hours for it to marinate. Just squeeze it and let it go, squeeze it again, like you are trying to wring out a sponge. Take about a minute massaging the salad.
Now taste a piece, is it good? Does it need more salt? If you pucker from the sour citrus, add more olive oil. Yup.
Now you can wash your hands.

Put the pumpkin seeds into a small dry fry pan. Turn the heat on, in a minute or two they will begin to toast on the bottom and puff up. Shake the pan around a few times. When they are overall, toasted and puffed, turn off the heat and tip them on top of your salad.
toasting pumpkin seeds

If your eyes were bigger than your stomach, it does keep very well for a day or two (covered & in the fridge.) Bring it for lunch to work and you can brag about your new kale prepping skill.

If you try it, send me a comment, will this change how you prep leafy greens in the future?

Kale salad with toasted pumpkin seeds and peppered goat cheese

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