In many ways, my parents fit the 1970s, San Francisco bay area stereotype of hippy living. My dad drove a a VW camper (pop-up top), my mother made most of her own dresses, they bought groceries from the Co-op, and grew copious quantities of vegetables, fruits, and herbs in our backyard garden.
But more than anything else, they ate salads. Green salads, grain salads, fruit salads, mixed vegetable salads, salads, more than any other food category, defined the way we ate as a family.
It’s taken me years to
manipulate persuade my husband that a salad at every evening meal–or, as the evening meal–is a perfectly rational choice. I have yet to proclaim victory, but, with time, I’m hoping my son will remember his childhood as a hippy salad household, too.
This essential kale salad is one of the keys to my quest. Kale is readily available, and good, all year round, so with the basic recipe in hand, I can vary the toppings to suit the season (e.g., dried cranberries, toasted walnuts and crumble blue cheese in the winter, fresh tomatoes, cucumber and pine nuts in the summer, etc.).
Two steps in the process are mandatory for maximum deliciousness: (1) Chop the kale fine, or shred it very thinly (the former works better for curly kale, the latter with dinosaur/lacinato kale); and (2) Refrigerate the salad for at least 1 hour before serving. The kale will absorb the dressing and become tender, yet still toothsome.
Leftovers (if you have any) are fantastic for lunch the next day (take that, lettuce), eaten straight up, or as a complement inside your favorite turkey, tofu or roast beef sandwich. To salad!
- 8 cups finely chopped kale (about 2 bunches, tough stems removed)
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, to taste
- 2 large garlic cloves, mashed
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon sweetener of choice (e.g., maple syrup, cane sugar, honey, etc.)
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Optional toppings/add-ins: chopped toasted nuts or seeds, chopped tomatoes (fresh or sun-dried), chopped dried fruit (e.g., dried cranberries or apricots), diced avocado, chopped seeded cucumber
- Place the kale in a large bowl.
- In a small jar, place the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, mustard, sweetener, salt, and pepper. Screw on top (tightly) and shake vigorously for 30 seconds; pour over kale, tossing to combine.
- Cover the bowl with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Toss salad again and season with additional salt and pepper to taste.If desired, add any of the suggested topping/add-ins.
*2 tbsp of red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, or apple cider vinegar can be used in place of the lemon juice.