BY NAVA ATLAS
Health foodies can step it up a bit by discovering how to make delicious raw kale salads—sometimes referred to as massaged kale salads. Literally massaging this hardy green with olive oil, salad dressing or mashed avocado softens it for easier chewing, brightens the color and improves its flavor. A favorite kind of kale for salads is curly green kale. Lacinato kale works well, too, as long as it isn’t too large and tough prior to massaging.
Even when kale isn’t the main leafy green in a salad, adding a few prepared leaves can up the nutrient value of any kind of green, grain or pasta salad. For each of the following recipes, start with a medium bunch of kale (about eight ounces), or more or less to taste. Finish each salad with sea salt and freshly ground pepper, if preferred.
Southwestern-Flavored Kale Salad
To the massaged kale, add two or three medium-sized fresh ripe tomatoes, a peeled and diced avocado, one to two cups cooked or raw fresh corn kernels, some red bell pepper strips and optional chopped green or black olives. Flavor with freshly squeezed or bottled lime juice, a little olive oil and some chopped cilantro. To up the protein for a main dish, add some cooked or canned, drained and rinsed, black or pinto beans and then sprinkle pumpkin seeds over the top.
Mediterranean Kale Salad
To the massaged kale, add two or three medium-sized chopped fresh ripe tomatoes, strips of sun-dried tomato, plenty of bell pepper strips and chopped or whole cured black olives. For protein, add a cup or two of cooked or canned, drained and rinsed, chickpeas. Top with thinly sliced fresh basil leaves.
Kale and Avocado Salad
Add a peeled and diced avocado, plus thinly sliced red cabbage to taste, sliced carrots, diced yellow squash, halved red and/or yellow fresh grape tomatoes and sunflower or pumpkin seeds. Optionally, add a little more olive oil in addition to that used for massaging and some freshly squeezed or bottled lemon or lime juice.
Asian-Flavored Kale Salad
Massage the kale with dark sesame oil instead of olive oil as an option. Add a medium-sized red bell pepper, cut into narrow slices, three stalks of bok choy with leaves, sliced (or one sliced baby bok choy) plus one or two thinly sliced scallions. Dress with a sesame-ginger dressing. Optional additions include some crushed toasted peanuts or cashews, steamed or boiled and chilled corn kernels and about four ounces of baked tofu, cut into narrow strips.
All recipes courtesy of Nava Atlas, author of Plant Power: Transform Your Kitchen, Plate, and Life With More Than 150 Fresh and Flavorful Vegan Recipes; used with permission.