By Denise Zito
There is a kale craze sweeping the nation. Kale salad has become something of an obsession in our family ever since last year, when we got together to prepare a big meal for Christmas evening and my daughter Suzanne and her husband David made kale salad. All twenty of the people at that holiday table have been making and eating it ever since!
It’s really a phenomenon because after we started having it, I have found that everyone from the staff at ACAC to far-away friends are discovering the joys of kale.
Kale is available year round. I plant in mid to late February and we eat it from March through July, when the bugs finish it off. Then we replant in August and we’re just harvesting the second crop this month.
It’s also available in the local grocery stores: curly kale, flat kale, blue kale, green kale—it’s all delicious. And did I mention how cheap it is? I hope no one at the Crozet Great Valu is reading this because when my garden crop is depleted, I really enjoy buying a bag for less than two dollars and making enough salad for eight people. It’s nutritious, having all the vitamins and minerals we so value in the green leafy vegetable family.
What makes this salad so delicious? I think it’s that umami flavor (Japanese word for pleasant savory taste) leant by the combination of tamari, nuts and sharp cheese. The other wonderful thing about kale salad is that it keeps well and travels well, making it great road and picnic food.
So, just in case you’re one of the five people left in America who are not already enjoying the wonders of kale, here is Suzanne’s version:
Start with a large bunch of kale (large stems removed), chopped, and then massaged. Yes, massaged. Reach into the bowl with both hands and squeeze. Repeat about 25 times. Apparently this breaks up the plant fibers, allowing the dressing to coat the greens better, and helps us digest better.
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup tamari
- Juice of one lemon
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
Shake together in a jar and dress the salad. Use only enough to coat the greens. Refrigerate the rest for up to two weeks.
• 1 cup of sliced toasted pecans, almonds or pumpkin seeds. (It’s very important to toast the seeds. Toast the nuts in a heavy skillet, stirring very frequently. They go from toasted to burned instantly, so give them your full attention.)
• 1 cup coarsely shredded Parmesan cheese
After tossing the greens with the dressing, add the nuts and cheese and toss again. It keeps in the refrigerator up to three days and the minimal wilting does not detract from the flavor or appearance.