If you know me at all, you know that there aren't many vegetables I don't love. I have a particular fondness for all greens and every cruciferous vegetable known to man. While Joe and I were on the road, we ended up visiting a lot of towns where we were hard-pressed to get a salad that consisted of more than shredded iceberg lettuce. After 5 weeks, we could not wait to get back in our own kitchen and eat some vegetables.
Kale is one of those veggies you hear about all of the time because of it's enormous health benefits. I have always loved it steamed, sauteed, and stir-fried, but have only become a fan of it in it's raw form in the past year. In my experience, raw kale salad is very often poorly made and I end up chewing a bite of salad for, like, 900 years.
It was my awesome brother, Sean, who showed me how to use kale in a salad. After my tutorial with him, it is my opinion that there are 5 factors to a successful kale salad: removing the spine of the kale leaves, chopping the kale into bite-sized ribbons, making a good vinaigrette, massaging the dressing-- BY HAND-- into the leaves, and letting it sit for a bit so that the kale softens a bit and the flavors have a chance to meld together.
The recipe below was inspired by a salad Helene and I ate from a Charleston grocery store. She and I DEVOURED it, (along with a few glasses of prosecco), and I couldn't stop thinking about it for the rest of our trip.
Sesame Ginger Kale Salad
*One thing to keep in mind when making a salad: buy more kale than you think you will eat.
After marinating and sitting, raw kale will reduce in size by about half.
This recipe makes enough to serve 4-6 side portions, less if you eat salad as a main course like we do. Also, this salad is great the next day. That's one of the awesome things about kale-- it's a hearty green and doesn't wilt easily.
Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette (this recipe will make more than you need)
-1 1/2 TB minced ginger
-1 tsp. crushed red pepper
-1/8 cup rice vinegar (not seasoned)
-1/8 cup Bragg's Liquid Aminos or tamari
-1/2 cup toasted sesame oil
Whisk together vinaigrette and drizzle half of it on kale. With your hands, massage the dressing into the leaves and toss. Whisk dressing again, add a bit more, massage, and toss. I ended up using about 2/3 of the dressing, but the amount you use will vary depending on your taste and the size of your bunches of kale. Make sure you taste as you go.
Let salad sit for a while. The intensity of the dressing will mellow a bit, the leaves will soften a little, and the flavors will meld together.