In my house, we often eat what we call "mish mosh salad." This is just a quick, thrown-together dish of whatever ingredients I happen to find in the fridge or pantry (mish mosh soup is popular as well). The base is often kale because it is so hardy and keeps forever in the fridge. I only use dino kale (aka lacinato kale) or red Russian kale. Large curly kale can be too overwhelming and doesn't break down easily. The mix-ins are usually a combination of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and/or roasted vegetables. Use the following recipe as a base and add whatever you have on hand. As the kale sits in the acid and breaks down, gather your other ingredients and you will have a hearty, healthy dinner salad in no time. A few things to know about massaged kale salads:
-You can use any type of acid to break down the kale. Pick you favorite vinegar or citrus juice. Lemon juice works great, as does cider vinegar or red wine vinegar. Play around and pick the flavors that speak to you.
-The longer you leave it to sit, the softer it will be. Massaging with the acid should be the first thing you do so you can set it aside and prepare you other ingredients. Don’t be afraid to really rub the leaves together, a gentle toss of the salad isn’t as effective.
-Salt also helps in the breakdown. I like to use large-crystal, unrefined gray salt. You only need a little sprinkling. If you are on a low sodium diet, you can leave it out.
Red Russian Kale Salad
Serves 2 for a dinner-sized portion
1 bunch red Russian kale
3 lemons (Meyer lemons if possible), juiced
1 tsp grey sea salt
1 bunch asparagus, bottom 1 inch removed and chopped into bite-sized pieces
5 sprigs mint, leaves only
3 Tbs pumpkin seeds
1 Tbs sundried tomatoes, sliced
3 Tbs sunflower seeds
1 Tbs olive oil
- Thoroughly rinse the kale and shake off the excess water. While holding it in a bunch, try to roll it together in a tight mass. Start at the top of the leaves and thinly slice to get ribbons. Cut the entire bunch, leaving the bottom, thicker stems behind.
- In a large bowl (anything but aluminum) add kale ribbons, lemon juice, and salt. With clean hands, massage the kale firmly for a minute or so, tossing to make sure it is covered with the juice. This will work to break down the leaves and make it very tender.
- Meanwhile, heat a sauté pan over medium heat. Add pumpkin seeds and toast, stirring often, for about 3 miuntes. The seeds will puff and pop. When brown, set aside in a bowl.
- Using the remaining heat in the pan, add the asparagus and toss to cook until just bright green. Add to kale.
- Roughly chop mint and add to kale.
- Add remaining sundried tomatoes, sunflower seeds, and oil to kale and toss. Add pumpkin seeds on top when serving so they stay crunchy.