Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Sweet and Nutty Massaged Kale Salad with Quinoa

I was first introduced to massaged kale at dinner last Christmas Eve.  "Massaged" kale?  I know, I was skeptical, too.  After all, I had only known kale as a slightly bitter green that needed to be steamed or sautéed until tender -- not a raw lettuce substitute that needs to be "relaxed" before eating.   

At this point, I've tried raw, massaged kale twice in my life, and it was great both times.  Massaged kale is my 2012 Christmas miracle. 

Kale, post-massage, post-dressing.
A quick note, before I move on to the recipe: I used lacinato kale rather than curly kale for this salad. Why did I do this?  Because the grocery store was out of curly kale.  Apparently, though, this was a serendipitous occurrence.  According to Wikipedia, lacinato kale (AKA Tuscan kale, Tuscan cabbage, Dinosaur kale, among other names) has a sweeter, more delicate taste than curly kale.  So, I'd give it a shot if you can find it!
Curly kale (left) and lacinato, or Tuscan, kale
Curly kale on the left, lacinato kale on the right (Source: Life is Fare)
Sweet and Nutty Massaged Kale Salad with Quinoa
  • 1/2 cup dry quinoa
  •  1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons honey (or agave nectar)
  • 5 cups kale, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 apple, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste

First, prepare the quinoa according to package instructions. Let cool while you prepare the rest of the salad components.

Next, prepare the vinaigrette. Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, lime juice, garlic, and honey in a small bowl. 

Then, place the kale in a large bowl and pour the vinaigrette over the leaves.  Massage the kale with your hands for about five minutes, or until the kale has reduced significantly in size and feels tender. 

Add in the quinoa, walnuts, cranberries, apples, salt, and pepper to the bowl.  Toss and serve.

Yields 4 dinner-sized servings. 

This salad has a great blend of sweetness, nuttiness, and earthiness.  Massaged kale becomes quite tender and soft, so the apples and walnuts add a nice crunch.  Next time I make this, I might add a bit of mustard to the dressing -- I think that would complement the flavor of the kale nicely.
I have occasional trouble finding kale at the nearby grocery store (perhaps it's because we go shopping on Sunday evenings!).  That said, Whole Foods is sure to have it.  Additionally, quinoa and walnuts can be two pricey ingredients.
 Ease of Preparation:        

The only reason I didn't give this a four-carrot rating in this category is the time it takes to cook the quinoa (about 15 minutes).  Otherwise, it's an incredibly quick and easy (not to mention fun) recipe.
Non-vegan friendliness:             
This is a hearty, protein- and calcium-packed salad that can stand on its own as a main dish.  Or, serve it alongside a pasta dish for a complete Tuscan experience.