Kale is being haled as the MVP of produce as more and more health benefits to eating kale are being discovered. It is one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet and tops the Super Foods list. It has high fiber, low calories, cancer and heart disease fighting attributes, helps to lower cholesterol, fights inflammation, and has phytonutrients that aid eye health ! Even more benefits are reputed, though still being tested.
Kale is a leafy green vegetable that comes in many varieties: dragon kale, purple ornamental kale, and curly kale to name a few. They all are interchangeable in recipes and readily available year round so use whatever variety is in your market. Late fall through early spring is peak season for kale. A touch of frost makes kale, like other cruciferous vegetables, taste sweeter.
Look for kale that is a rich, deep color and unblemished with firm leaves and stems. Smaller leaves are generally more tender and tastier as the leaves toughen and get a little bitter with age.
Kale can be sautéed, steam or braised and used as a stand alone side dish or put in stews, soups, and pasta dishes. Kale can be used in place of spinach or collards in almost any recipe. The stems are tougher than the leaves, so remove them and slice thinly before cooking.
Raw kale salads have become very popular lately and ours is especially delicious. The kale is best torn or cut into smaller pieces so as to break up the tougher fibers in the leaves. The stems are generally too tough to eat raw so remove them. A lemon vinaigrette is a good choice for kale salads as lemon enhances the nutrient availability.
Fresh or dried fruit is a nice addition and complements the acidity of the lemons and the slight bitterness of the kale. The rich sweetness of mango tastes particularly good with kale and the color makes for an especially attractive salad. Mango also offers health benefits of its own in terms of cancer protection, heart health, and eye health, so this is a winning combination in all respects. Seeds or nuts add a crunchy element and a bit more nutrition.
This salad is an easy and delicious way to eat more of this highly nutritious vegetable. A bonus is that kale does not wilt the way lettuces do so the salad can be made ahead and holds up well if there are leftovers.
Honey Lemon Vinaigrette:
- 1 bunch of Kale
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 1 TBS olive oil
- 1 ripe mango (or fresh or dried fruit of choice)
- 2 - 3 TBS sunflowers (or other nuts or seeds)
Honey Lemon Vinaigrette Instructions:
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 1 TBS honey
- 1/8 tsp kosher salt
- 1/8 tsp pepper
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Mix the lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper until the honey is dissolved.
- Slowly whisk in the olive oil until the dressing is thick and emulsified.
- Clean the kale and remove the thick stalks.
- Slice the kale into very thin ribbons.
- Sprinkle it with the kosher salt, lemon juice, and olive oil.
- With clean hands, gently rub and massage the kale pieces for 2 - 3 minutes. The kale will become softer and decrease in volume.
- Dice the fruit into ½ inch pieces.
- Add the fruit and any juice to the kale.
- Toss the salad with the vinaigrette, using just as much as necessary.
- Add the seeds or nuts and toss again to combine.
for more information and expanded ideas.