If you like something or someone and tell me a million reasons why they are great, I will automatically hate anything involved with what you’re telling me. This is why I’ve never listened to Serial, watched Breaking Bad or liked your new friend that you met after me.
Though I am happy to champion trendy things that I was all about before you were. For example, I thought Betty White was cool way back when. I spent my formative years watching late-night marathons of The Golden Girls. Did you know there are two versions of the show opening? No, you probably didn’t. Within .2 seconds of starting an episode I know which show opening will be on. So it was only normal that since I wasn’t eating kale before it became a “thing,” I avoided it and thought it was dumb.
I also eschewed kale because a lot of early recipes for kale salads instructed cooks to massage the dressing into the leaves to soften them. I have no problem touching food when I cook but something turned me off about having to give my salad a rub down before making it palatable. I also didn’t know how long this rub was supposed to go on for so I completely ignored it.
Quietly, I eventually came around to kale. I realized you didn’t need to lovingly massage the dressing into the rough leaves until they softened into a palatable salad. Tossing the kale with whatever dressing you have works just fine. My tongs aren’t gentle but I think they do a better job of breaking down the allegedly tough kale than my fingertips.
Once I got on the kale train, like every other annoying bandwagon fan, I tried to push my newfound fav on others. But when I placed the bowl of aggressively tossed kale in front of one dining companion, he quickly pushed it away and said, “This tastes like mint.”
Mint?! Does kale taste like mint? To me, kale has a very mineral taste and I had tossed it in a dressing of lime juice, fish sauce and olive oil. Nowhere is refreshing mint coming up on my tastebuds.
But fine, minty kale I’ll do it. And it wasn’t half bad, it was better than that. As dark as kale can be, slivers of mint bounce on the opposite end of the spectrum bringing a surprising lightness to a winter salad.
The dressing is inspired by Gluten Free Girl’s Kale Salad with Golden Raisins and Pine Nuts. I know nothing about science but like to think acidic lime and funky fish sauce break down the kale, a liquid massage.
For the salad, I like to buy lacinato or dinosaur kale when I can. The curly stuff is just fine but to me the lacinato is easier to cut up. And sometimes the bunches of curly kale seem like they’re all stems. Even if your kale yield is less than what you wanted, the cubes of cheese, toasted nuts and torn dates make for a fine lunch.
- 2 small bunches of lacinato kale or one big bunch of the curly stuff
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 lime
- 1 1/2 tbs fish sauce
- 1/4 cup toasted almonds
- 2 oz. smoked gouda
- 1/2 chopped dates
- 2 scallions
- 1 bunch of mint
- Remove the tough ribs from the leaves of kale, then put a few leaves on top of eachother and roll them up like a jelly roll. Slice the jelly roll of green into ribbons. Continue with all of the kale and combine in a large bowl
- Zest the lime and add it to the kale. Then cut the lime in half and squeeze the juice from one of the halves onto the kale
- Add the olive oil and fish sauce and toss the kale with a pair of tongs until the dressing coats each ribbon
- In a small saute pan over medium heat toast the almonds for a few minutes until you can start to smell the nuts and they slightly brown
- Roughly chop almonds, cheese and dates into small nubs, you want the pieces small enough that they disperse throughout the salad and each forkful has one of the ingredients
- Add to bowl of dressed kale and toss again
- Thinly slice scallions, green and white parts, and add to salad
- Tear up the bunch of mint and add to the salad. I don't like cutting the mint with a knife because I feel it wilts quicker that way
- Toss the salad a few more times and eat!