Kale was once a vegetable relegated to being cooked until a swamp green mush to make it edible. Even then, it wasn’t something that most people ate by choice. However, over the past few years kale has done a 360, and it’s gone from hated to haute.
As a result, chefs around the country are scrambling to get it on their menus. Packaged food companies have gotten on the trend wagon with kale chips and even kale baby food, which has caused some to say that kale has jumped the shark. Maybe it’s the hipster health-nuts that are bitter about their secret getting out, or perhaps it’s the carnivores out there hoping that the recent trend dies out before their next steak shows up with a blanket of kale chimichuri.
Regardless of what camp you’re in, you can’t deny that kale is very nutrient dense. With about four times the amount of vitamins A, C, and K as spinach and an abundance of minerals and antioxidants, it truly is a superfood.
Personally my favorite way of having kale is raw, in a salad. It’s not that I’ve turned over a new leaf and become a macrobiotic nerd. I just really like the way it tastes in a salad. Not cooking it also prevents the sulfur compounds naturally present in kale from breaking down and releasing their pungent stink.
The trick to making raw kale not only edible but also quite delicious is to remove the tough center stem and to dress it early and let it marinate. This takes the harsh green edge off the kale, while the dressing tenderizes the leaves without making them soggy.
Because the kale has such a wonderful green flavor, I like using a simple vinaigrette with vincotto providing a little sweetness and a touch of sesame oil to enhance the nuttiness of the almonds without tasting overtly “Asian”. The shallots add a bit of flair to the simple salad while the Marcona almonds provide a nice crunch, along with some richness.
If you somehow manage to end up with leftovers, this salad also makes for a great slaw to add to a sandwich the next day.
Kale and Marcona Almond Salad
Kale has gone from hated to haute, and you can make it taste great in this kale salad recipe with almonds. Food blogger Marc Matsumoto discusses kale's transformation in a full post on the Fresh Tastes blog.
- 1/2 pound kale
- 1/2 cup Marcona almonds crushed (about 2.5 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot
- 2 teaspoons vincotto ( or honey)
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- Black pepper
- 1 ounce Pecorino Romano
- Thoroughly wash the kale in a large bowl until there's no sediment settling at the bottom. Remove the tough parts of the stems by grabbing the bottom of the stem with one hand and pulling and stripping the left parts from the stem with the other hand. Place the kale in a salad spinner and dry thoroughly.
- Use a sharp knife to cut the kale into a chiffonade (thin ribbons) and then add it to a bowl along with the crushed almonds.
- In a small glass bowl, whisk together the olive oil, sherry vinegar, shallots, vincotto, Worcestershire sauce, salt, sesame oil and black pepper. Pot the dressing over the kale and. Toss to coat.
- You can serve the salad right away, but letting the salad rest in the fridge for a few hours lets the flavors meld and mellows the bitterness and harsh green edge that kale can have. When you’re ready to serve the salad, just use a vegetable peeler to shave some Pecorino Romano onto the salad and toss together.
Yield: 4 servings
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.