I haven’t been sharing many recipes lately, because I haven’t been experimenting in the kitchen very much. I keep returning to my tried-and-true favorites.
Also, while I, for the most part, ate REALLY well on my recent 20-day bike tour, my camping-cuisine tended towards many variations on the identical theme of: ([lentils]+[dehydrated vegetables]+[quinoa]+[jerky])=Happy Biker.
However, now that I’m more-or-less settled into living at the same address for the rest of the summer, I’m back in the kitchen and back up to my old tricks. By which I mean: “inventing new tricks and tasty dishes to share with you, my gentle readers.”
Today I’ll be typing out a protocol to prepare a scrumptious hippie haute-cuisine side-dish. I whipped this up for a recent dinner party with some of our family’s oldest and dearest friends: Bob, a Geologist; Cathy, a vet; and Rose, my high school classmate, who just graduated from Nursing School.
The menu consisted of Colorful Kale Salad (in honor of our Boulder-bourgeoisie) and a Low-Country Seafood Boil (in anticipation for my upcoming move to Madison, Wisconsin). I’ll share the kale salad recipe today so that you too may free yourself from the tyranny of the Whole Foods Deli Case and prepare hedonistic health food from the comforts of your own kitchen…without an exorbitant price tag. The marinated kale salad featured a star-studded cast of super-fruits and veggies: kale, beets, carrots, pumpkin seeds, and heart-healthy olive oil.
Kale salad happens to be vegan, gluten-free, raw, and likely every other magic dietary buzzword/adjective that your obnoxious co-worker is currently braying about. More important than the supposed virtuousness of each individual ingredient, however, is how their flavors mingle together for a colorful crescendo of deliciousness. Kale salad is a good thing to eat because it is tasty, not because it is healthy. I also know for a FACT that this particular salad plays well with meat, dairy, and >GASP< gluten! The leftover salad made a marvelous sandwich filling between whole-wheat toast, brie and roasted turkey the following afternoon.
I recommend preparing the kale salad a few hours in advance of when you intend to eat it. The longer the kale marinates, the more tender and toothsome the leaves become. Here’s how I went about putting together my rainbow symphony of roughage.
1 big bunch kale
2 medium sized beets (I used one golden beet and one chiogga beet for color-contrast)
1 large carrot
½ medium jicama
1 poblano pepper
½ cup raisins
¼ cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds), toasted (you can do this in a cast-iron frying pan over high heat)
½ cup orange juice
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
juice and zest of 1 large lime
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons tequila
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste.
1) Remove stems and ribs from kale, tear the leaves into roughly 1″-2″ pieces. Add torn kale into a LARGE mixing bowl. No need to be obsessive-compulsive about making every leaf the same size; a little rustic imperfection makes home-cooking more delicious.
2) Shred the carrots and the beets using the large holes on a box grater (or food processor if you’re
lazy… stoked about washing seven different complicated components instead of one simple tool… a member of the 1% technologically inclined). Add your shredded roots to the kale.
3) Roast the poblano pepper (for a step-by-step tutorial on roasting peppers check out my recipe for roasted ratatouille). Briefly: place the pepper on the highest oven rack and turn on your broiler to its hottest setting. Broil the pepper, turning occasionally until the skin is blackened and blistered. Remove the pepper from the oven and place into a small mixing bowl. Cover the bowl with saran wrap and allow the steam from the hot pepper to loosen its skin. After the pepper has cooled, peel off the burnt skin, remove the ribs and seeds, then finely dice the delicious smoky flesh. Add the diced roasted pepper to the other melange of vegetables in the mixing bowl.
4) Peel the tough skin from the jicama root. Finely dice the crunchy-tender flesh. Slice the radishes into ¼” thick rings. Add the jicama and radishes to the mixing bowl.
5) Make the dressing.
i. Zest the lime using the small holes of a box grater. Add the lime zest, lime juice, apple cider vinegar, and orange juice to a small mixing bowl.
iii. Add the honey, soy sauce (it won’t taste asian, I promise! we just want some umami!), tequila (we also want BOOZE), cumin, and mustard. Whisk everything together.
iv. Whisk the dressing continuously while slowly drizzling in the olive oil. The goal is to make and emulsion. Make sure everything is well incorporated.
v. Taste the dressing and add salt and pepper to your liking (I ended up needing about a half teaspoon salt and a quarter teaspoon of pepper).
6) Pour the dressing over the assembled salad.
7) Mix the salad well. I recommend using your hands for this task–the best way to be sure all of the ingredients are evenly distributed and well-coated with dressing is to roll up your sleeves and get ALL UP IN that salad. Use your hands to compress and knead the mixture, periodically turning the bowl and bringing ingredients from the bottom of the pile to the top. When you are sure that everything is integrated and dripping with dressing give the salad one or two more squeezes and turns in the bowl for good luck.
8) Cover the kale salad in plastic wrap and allow it to sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Three hours is probably ideal to reach peak-kale salad-nirvana, but the flavors will continue to meld and develop over 24 hours. I can attest that the leftovers were delicious at lunch the next day. Make sure to give the salad at least one good stir (you can use a spoon this time) before serving to re-distribute the dressing.