Kale salads are all the rage these days. But who can enjoy a bowl of stiff, woody greens. Don't skip the one critical step that makes for a great kale salad.
As I'm sure you've noticed, kale is the new arugula, with kale salads showing up on every restaurant menu and cooking site these days.
I love a good kale salad. (And, as I suggested in my response to the recent Washington Post column attacking salad as overrated, adding kale is a great way to up the nutritional ante of your green salad.)
But raw kale leaves tend to be stiff and woody. They're also water-repellent. Salad dressing slides right off them and pools in the bottom of the bowl. So, you can't just tear kale into pieces, pour dressing over it, and hope for the best. (And I am astonished by how many good restaurants do exactly that.)
There is a simple trick to a great kale salad, one I learned a couple of years ago from Mark Bittman.
1. After washing your kale (and your hands), tear it into bite size pieces and put it in your salad bowl.
2. Drizzle with a bit of oil and vinegar (or whatever salad dressing you're using).
3. Put your hands into the bowl and give your kale a massage. Rub the dressing into it, squeezing it lightly, until it is tender and well-coated. (It will shrink to about half the original volume).
4. Toss in any other salad greens you'd like to use, whatever toppings you have in mind, and a little additional dressing if needed. One of my favorite combos (again, courtesy of Bittman) is simply kale, shredded carrots, golden raisins, and blue cheese. Trust me: that's a salad that could trigger a marriage proposal (or better).
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