Sunday, January 18, 2009

Pampered Kale

I’ve been so stuck on baking lately. In this foggy, chilly weather the only thing that sounds appealing is snuggling up with cookies and muffins and a good DVD. But I gotta get out of this rut… not that it’s such a terribly bad thing really. But I have baked more cookies and looked up more dessert recipes than this nutritionist would care to admit (David Lebovitz, you know you’ve succeeded when the nutrition girl wants nothing but the variations of your ice cream sandwiches for a week straight). So before my carbohydrate count gets higher than my credit score (which really isn’t saying much anyway). I’ll opt to make an effort toward something a bit more, shall we say, not birthday-treat-like.

I’m still having my fun with vegetables, despite the winter weather. Even cold salads can still be so appealing when paired with a hot stew or toasted sandwich. I was reminded of this last week when I was fortunate enough to take another mini cooking class from one of my favorite Bastyr instructors. We learned three different salads, all cold, that were appealing for any season. The class reminded me yet again that a poor student shouldn’t be afraid of loading up her shopping card with 15 different colorful vegetables to make a single salad. It’s worth it. So thank you, Jennifer, for re-inspiring me in the middle of January.

If you want an energy-boosting addition to your lunch, try this massaged kale salad (yes, us nutritionists pamper our vegetables with spa-like treatments on occasion). Kale is a powerhouse of nutrition – lots of vitamin A, K, tons of fiber, and the texture has such a satisfying chew. You can buy kale as either curly, or the lacinato (a.k.a ‘dinosaur’) variety. Both are great, and both would work well in this salad. If you’re the type who goes to the market and skips the entire leafy green section because you have trouble identifying the collards from the chard – then don’t worry, this salad works well with just about any bunch of winter leafies that you mistakenly buy. Well, except for mustard greens that is (back away… far, far away.)

I’m putting away my measuring cups and wooden spoons for now, so I can begin to focus on more color and creative dressings, stir-frys and food that involves more than my go-to staples and the tried-and-true. Time to open up my thinking and let in unfamiliar ingredients and combinations. This is quite possibly my one and only resolution this year. Crack open that neglected cookbook! Play with stuff you can barely pronounce! Try a recipe that doesn’t sound like something you’d like to make! Savor the unknown!

…just as long as I can do it with my favorite comfort foods on hold in the fridge and a warm blanket waiting for me on the couch.

Behind every adventuresome cook is a good plate of mac ‘n cheese.

Massaged Kale Salad
Makes 6 servings
Original recipe by Jennifer Adler, CN

Jennifer claims this salad just keeps getting better with time – she loves hers best on the 10th day. I doubt mine will stick around the fridge that long. Feel free to experiment with the ingredients, try different crumbly cheeses and nuts according to what you have on hand.

1 bunch kale, de-stemmed, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup olive oil
2-3 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
¼ cup diced red onion
1/3 cup currants
¾ cup diced apple
1/3 cup sunflower seeds, toasted
1/3 cup gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

Put kale in a large mixing bowl. Add salt, massage salt into kale for 2 minutes. Gently stir in remaining ingredients except for cheese. Taste and adjust for salt and vinegar. When at desired flavor gently stir in cheese.


Kate said...

oh, hooray for those who post recipes involving Kale, a green, I do feel, that has unfairly earned a bad reputation in the taste department. I have a drawer full in the fridge, and I'm making this recipe tonight. Thanks!

Julie said...

I've made three batches of this yummiest of yummy salads, with kudos received from all who tasted with me. So Miss Chrissy has effectively converted me to Kale Nation! She even took me shopping for the ingredients, so committed to my patriotic participation is she... :-)