i’ve been trying to get acquainted with salads again. salads and i are like an old friend who you’ve lost touch with, and when you meet for drinks things don’t really fall back into place and feel like they used to. all summer i’ve been seeing pictures of beautiful salads, full of colour and character, but, when i tell myself i’m going to make one i always find an excuse not to. it really is a shame considering summer is the time to eat cold, fresh, crisp lettuce – i shudder at the thought of eating a salad in the dead of winter. had i eaten salad all summer it would have balanced out my heavy winter diet – i obviously don’t think too far ahead, do i. oh well, i guess – this bowl of kale almost makes up for it, right?
crisp apples and celery are one of my favourite salad combinations – i especially love them in chicken salad – and luckily i had those both. i started digging around in my fridge and pulled together the perfect lunch.
the key to eating kale raw is to give it a lot of love. you have to oil it up, and massage the hell out of it, until it breaks down and becomes less bitter. i’m totally serious – pour some olive oil onto that bowl of leafy greens and massage, massage massage until your hand cramps up, and then massage some more. the longer you give it a good rub down, the better it will taste. the cellulose starts to break down and releases a sweeter flavour and much better texture. the leaves should get darker and will get smaller – 5 minutes is usually fine (but let’s face it – no one wants just a 5 minute massage).
i also had some cucumbers which is definitely a salad must – as well as a cabbage mixture that wanted to be part of the party so i threw that in. i love adding dried fruit and nuts to salads, and sweet dried cranberries compliment the crunch of the rest of the ingredients. i’m a firm believer in cheese on everything, so i added a sprinkle of fresh parmesan, but feta would be amazing as well. a simple garlic lemon dressing to finish it off – i’ve always felt like the ingredients of a salad were meant to shine and the dressing was only there to enhance the flavours. i grew up on olive oil, red wine vinegar and salt as my salad dressing with my nona – less is always more.
of course some ingredients compliment each other better than others – like arugula, pine nuts, proscuitto and lemon juice (definitely next on my hit list, that’s another old friend i need to reunite with), but the beauty of using fresh ingredients is that anything goes – leafy greens are a blank canvas, with so many different variations – open your fridge or head to a farmer’s market before summer is over and get creative!
*serves 1, easily doubled
4-5 leaves of green or purple kale, stems trimmed and torn into small pieces
1 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup cabbage and carrot slaw
1/2 gala apple, chopped
1-2 stalks of celery and their leaves, chopped
1/4 cucumber, chopped
handful of trail mix
sprinkle of your choice of cheese, totally optional
juice of half a lemon
1 clove garlic, preferably roasted
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
fresh ground salt and pepper
touch of honey
1. Wash, dry and trim kale leaves from their stems. Tear into small pieces and place in a bowl, adding the olive oil and a pinch of salt. Massage kale for approximately 5 minutes with your hands, squeezing and rubbing the leaves together between your fingers and palms.
2. Add reminder of salad ingredients. Prepare dressing by whisking together all ingredients until incorporated.
3. Pour over salad, sprinkle with more cheese (hint: the answer to every question in life is always “mm more cheese”) and black pepper and enjoy!