Simple Spring Kale Salad Recipe
Spring is the perfect time of year to lighten up your cooking! An abundance of vegetables are starting to make their way to the farmer’s market. One of the most nutrient-dense vegetables is kale, and it’s dark leafy green friends. In the winter I tend to sauté kale in oil, but in the spring and summer I love to eat it “raw” in salad form, or sometimes in smoothies.
But kale is a thick, fiber-rich food, so those of us with bloating or poor digestion should be careful. I have some modifications below that should allow for better digestion.
I learned this salad recipe years ago from my mentor Paul Pitchford, author of Healing with Whole Foods, and have modified it over the years. You only need four ingredients: kale, salt, an acid (raw apple cider vinegar in this case), and olive oil (sundried tomato olive oil below provides extra flavor).
This literally takes 5-10 minutes to prepare and is best eaten right away. If you’re taking it in your lunch, I recommend preparing it that morning. Even then, you may need to “rehydrate it” with a dab of olive oil just before eating, so that the kale isn’t dried out.
This recipe is also kid-friendly as you have to really dig in and smush around the kale with your hands.
Simple Spring Kale Salad Recipe
feeds 2 people
-½ bunch of kale
-½ teaspoon of coarse sea salt or kosher salt; iodized salt isn’t going to have much flavor
-¾ tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar
-1-2 ounces of Trader Joe’s julienne-sliced sun dried tomatoes in olive oil*
Wash kale thoroughly. Cut off any really long stalks and discard (unless you’re adventurous and love kale stalks; if you’re somewhat new to kale OR have bloating, I would get rid of most of the stalks). Tear the kale off the stalks and shred it into pieces with your hands. The pieces do not need to be extra small or extra fine. Just tear each leaf several times and you should end up with edible-sized pieces.
If your GI system is pretty strong, instead of tearing the kale off the stalk, you can cut the stalks into tiny pieces and, as you’re doing so, cut the kale into medium-sized ribbons. If you’re not sure how you process fiber-rich vegetables, stick with the directions above.
Sprinkle the sea salt over the kale and toss the kale to combine it. Then add the raw apple cider vinegar. Put your (clean) hands into the kale and start working in the salt and vinegar.
Next add the olive oil. In this recipe I’m using the Trader Joe’s sundried tomatoes packed in olive oil and am adding the tomatoes and the olive oil they are packed in.
Keep working in all the ingredients with your hands. This salad is also sometimes called “massaged” kale because you’re squeezing and squishing the oil, salt, and vinegar into the kale as the kale releases its juice.
Once the ingredients have been worked in well, you are done! The kale will shrink down a lot; don’t be alarmed.
RECIPE VARIATIONS, for Those Who Like to Play
*If you don’t have the sundried tomatoes from Trader Joe’s, regular olive oil is great; you just won’t get the sweetness of the tomatoes. The sundried tomatoes, which are packed in actual olive oil rather than not-so-great oil such as canola or sunflower, are one of the few things I actually go to Trader Joe’s to get.
Instead of the vinegar, you can use lemon juice.
Instead of the sea salt, you can use tamari or another good-quality soy sauce.
What’s important is that you keep the trinity of acid (lemon juice or vinegar), some kind of salt, and oil. These ingredients work together to break down the cellulose fiber in the kale so that it’s digestible in this uncooked form.
Also, instead of measuring you can sprinkle and splash ingredients, and just play. You might want more or less of the above ingredients.