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October 3, 2011

Kale Salad

Kale scares people. I'm not sure why -- it's so pretty! -- but I love kale. I look at it as my dietary antidote for all the cheeseburgers and wine that accidentally fall into my life.

Interestingly enough I'm not a huge fan of salad but I love kale salad. It's fast and easy and stays good in the fridge for two days (with the dressing on it!) I hate spending all that time washing and cleaning and chopping stuff for a regular green salad only to discover my lettuce has wilted the next day or the tomatoes have gone mushy. This kale salad is the lazy person's best friend. You make one batch and it's good for days and days.

You can make your own mix but I found the best possible bagged vegetable item EVER at my local Whole Foods market:

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That's a half pound of cleaned, de-stemmed, chopped curly kale mixed with some shredded carrots and purple cabbage for only $2.99! And it's organic. This is one of the few times that a bagged item rivals the value of buying something straight off the vegetable aisle. Plus it's so EASY. Just open the bag, make the dressing and in two minutes you're done.

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There is a recipe for dressing on the bag but after a few weeks of making this obsessively, I've come up with my own version that has more flavor and less calories. If you look closely in the picture you'll see I forgot the sesame oil -- it was in the fridge! But sesame oil adds most of the flavor to this dressing. Use the dark (toasted) sesame oil. I buy it in small quantities and keep it in the fridge so it doesn't get rancid.

My Kale Salad Dressing:

1/4 cup rice unseasoned wine vinegar (you can use a little more if you like more intense flavor)
1 1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons olive oil or less
1 teaspoon brown sugar
salt & black pepper to taste

Mix this up in a little bowl and then pour it over the raw kale. Here is the most important part of the recipe: Put the salad back in the fridge and let it marinate for AT LEAST one hour. The acid in the vinegar softens up the leaves and improves the texture. You can let this marinate for much longer, and it will be completely edible and awesome two days later.

Finally, I add pecans and dried cranberries on top to make this salad super tasty. The cranberries on this salad add the perfect combination of sweet to tangy. You can also add some chopped chicken breast or grilled salmon to make it a full meal. One bag of salad makes four gigantic portions. I worked out the calories in my version (with cranberries and pecans) at about 325 calories per lunch-sized bowl -- about four cups of salad. And after you eat four cups of raw kale trust me you are no longer hungry.

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Super salad!

Posted by laurie at October 3, 2011 10:03 AM