Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Kale, Yeah!

Our famous kale salad, with mint, edamame, chickpeas, tomatoes and dried cranberries in a lemon herb dressing.

Our famous kale salad, with mint, edamame, chickpeas, tomatoes and dried cranberries in a lemon herb dressing.

Over the past few years, kale has become a mainstay in our diets. We eat it in salads and smoothies, sauteed, steamed and raw; even massaged.

Kale is a hearty green, and can be a little tough if it isn’t prepared properly. I prefer to remove the thick, center spine of the kale and concentrate on the more tender leaves. Some say I am giving up some nutrients by removing the tough center stem, but frankly, if it isn’t enjoyable to eat, people will opt out of eating it all.

The first time I made a kale salad for a huge crowd, a friend came over and spent hours taking the stems off, shredding and washing the kale. I have to admit that I was a little intimidated, and vowed not to make the dish again for more than a few people.
As experience often goes, I have learned some tricks to streamline this process and prepare it expediently for a crowd.

How to de-stem kale:

Hold the kale by the thick stalk, and slide your fingers down, quickly removing the leaves. Tear them more if necessary, and toss them into a salad spinner or colander to be washed. If it is a large quantity, I lay the freshly washed greens out on a thick beach towel on the table to absorb the excess water that the salad spinner missed.

Kale is one of the few greens that can handle being dressed in advance without wilting. You can toss the salad prior to serving and let dressing soften the greens.
Some people opt for massaging their raw kale. You can do this with the actual dressing if it is a lemon or vinaigrette type, or with just olive oil and salt. Sprinkle the dressing or oil over the washed and dried greens in a salad bowl, and use your clean hands to rub it into the leaves. This softens them, distributes the dressing, and takes a little of the bitterness away.

You can also de-stem the kale before cooking it, or using it in a smoothie.

Photos: Glasshouse Images

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