I’m tired of kale smoothies. If only I could find a way to choke this bitter green down that didn’t involve a straw. ~Me. Every week. Standing in front of my blender.
I know that kale is a nutritional powerhouse. But I hate how it refuses to “get small” and play nice in my smoothie. Other greens know how to act. Raw spinach enters the mix, humbles itself before your lineup of frozen fruits and then literally blends right into the background. But kale? You can toss in all the fruit you want, and kale refuses to submit. HA! Still here! it screams the moment I take my first bitter sip.
I was cautiously optimistic, then, when I came across this raw kale recipe in Dr. Andrew Weil’s cookbook True Food. I remembered that I had once eaten at his local (Fairfax, VA) restaurant of the same name – True Food Kitchen – after someone I was meeting for lunch suggested it. The food was great, yes. But before that even hit the table I was served a non-alcoholic “tonic” that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind since. And whose name I can’t remember. Which means now I have to go back down there, order every single drink off the menu until I find it and then interrogate the server about its contents. Because OCD.
Anyway. The kale salad. My hopes were high, but given the smoothie situation, I braced myself for an eating experience that I was going to have to muscle my way through to the last bitter bite.
I wish I could put a scratch-n-sniff sticker on this picture for you. Smashed garlic. Fresh-squeezed lemon juice. Extra-virgin olive oil. Sea salt. A pop of red pepper flakes. Left to marinate in this essence for 30 minutes at room temperature, the kale did not stand a chance. It had to submit. The end result is a tender, tasty, zesty green with no trace of bitterness.
Sorry. Did I not mention the finely grated cheese and toasted bread crumbs?
That’s probably because I never remember to add them at the end. Think about that for a moment. How good is a salad when you forget to add the CHEESE and BREAD? The salad is sublime with or without these final garnishes, which is great news for everybody. This is that kale salad you bring to the family cookout when you don’t know who’s vegan, who just discovered Paleo or Whole30, or who is coming off their latest detox cleanse. Simply serve the grated cheese and bread crumbs on the side, and everyone can get up from the table happy.
Have your kale and eat it too. Bon Appetit!
By the way, don’t worry about what’s next to the kale in the picture. Just some homemade beer-battered onion rings and hot sauce. That all gets canceled out by the kale, so don’t judge me.
Update: good news for all those in the DMV area: True Food Kitchen is opening up a new Bethesda, Maryland location in Spring 2017. Which is great for me, because I really wasn’t trying to trek all the way down to Fairfax to solve that drink mystery. True Food Kitchen currently has U.S. locations in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
Dr. Weil's Raw Kale Salad
Yield 8 servings
This raw kale succeeds where so many others fail. By allowing the salad to "rest" before serving in a brine of lemon juice, olive oil and salt, the usual bitterness and toughness disappears. The end result is a delicious, tangy and addictive salad. Recipe courtesy of True Food by Dr. Andrew Weil.
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3 garlic cloves, mashed
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 2 bunches kale (about 14 ounces), ribs removed and leaves sliced into 1/4 inch shreds
- 1/2 cup finely grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (grated on a microplane)
- 2 tablespoons toasted whole wheat breadcrumbs
Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese shavings, for garnish
- In a salad bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and red pepper flakes. Add the kale and toss well to coat. Let the salad sit at room temperature for 10 to 30 minutes. Add the grated cheese and bread crumbs and toss again.
- Garnish with the cheese shavings before serving. Cover any leftovers and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
Tip: Avoid bagged or curly varieties of kale. Please. Dr. Weil recommends, and I agree, that you should use fresh-bundled dark green Dino Kale, sometimes referred to as Tuscan or Lacinato or black kale. You can find it in the produce section of most supermarkets. If it's not there, go to another store. Or eat something else. (Yes. It's that serious.) It looks like this: