If you are vegan, or in my case “mostly vegan,” at some point you will venture into the world of greens. There are many kinds of greens, from low calorie iceberg lettuce to the more flavorful, but delicate spring mix until we get to robust and substantial leafy kale.
I’ll admit I had never tried kale until I became vegan. Then again, there are many foods that my vegan journey has introduced into my kitchen, like chia seeds, quinoa, nutritional yeast and many other interesting ingredients that I have come to enjoy and which are nutritionally dense.
Kale is also nutritionally dense. One cup has 2 grams of protein (yes, greens have protein!) and kale is also a blockbuster delivery system for Vitamin A and C.
And as great as kale is, if you want to eat it raw in a salad, you’ll find that you must do something to prepare the leaves because they are very firm and overly crunchy.
But, there’s a great way to tame your kale and make it softer and more “lettuce like” in your salad.
First, if you have whole kale leaves, go ahead and wash and dry. Then, remove the center stem portion which is rather woody. Chop the leaves into bite sized pieces.
Put the bite sized pieces into an over-sized bowl. Take some olive oil, you don’t need much! and drizzle it over the kale. For 2 cups of chopped kale, you probably need 1-2 teaspoons. Experiment with the amount of oil, trying to use the least amount possible. After you’ve drizzled the olive oil, sprinkle some salt on too. Use an amount of salt that you’d normally use for flavoring, but in this case the salt will also help break down the leaves.
Now… get your (washed and clean) hands into the bowl and massage the kale with your hands. I gently squeeze the leaves in my fingers, breaking them down with the moistening from the oil and salt, and circulate the leaves from top to bottom to rotate each leaf and make sure I’m compressing all of the salad.
You’ll be able to tell when you are finished when every single kale leaf is moistened with the olive oil, and the leaves feel soft to the touch.
At this point, add the remainder of your salad ingredients and mix with the kale.
Although olive oil and salt is it’s own kind of dressing, I usually add a very light drizzle (again, no more than another teaspoon) of a flavored dressing of my choice. I’m also a big fan of freshly ground black pepper for flavor.
You don’t need any additional dressing, and you could use other types of flavoring like a flavored vinegar or fresh lemon / lime juice if you feel like it.
Hopefully, this kale massage technique will help you enjoy this dark leafy green more often as a part of a high nutrition salad.
I like to add carrots, tomatoes, avocado, slivered almonds, olives and chia seeds to round out the meal!