I like to eat seasonal produce and right now...still...lots of hardy greens and citrus. Luckily I love that combo. But, maybe ask me again in another month.
So, kale. I'm surprised all the time by people saying they will juice it or throw it into smoothies but they don't like it in salads. Wha??? I tolerate its bitter taste in smoothies but love love love it in salads and hardly notice its strong flavor. Maybe it's in the details of what to do with this nutritional powerhouse called kale- here's your lesson for the day- try it for lunch this week:
With kale, since it's so hardy, it needs to be broken down a bit to be more palatable. Think of it like curing ceviche (seasfood that's marinaded in lime juice- it looks cooked- but its not.) The acids in citrus will literally break down the kale's plant fibers and soften it a bit. I guarantee if you have had a kale salad in a restaurant and liked it and then couldn't figure out why it doesn't taste the same at home, the chef probably employed one or both of these tricks-
Trick 1. Unlike other leafy, delicate greens, kale does best if marinated in citrus or vinegar for a bit before eating. Most of the time you only want to dress a salad right before eating. But with kale, dress the greens way ahead of time and let them do their thing...feel free to get distracted, go get dressed, pour a glass of wine and come back in a bit. Makes a great lunch green because you can dress it in the morning and its great by lunch- not soggy.
Trick 2. But! Its only complete after massaging the kale- I'm serious! Take half an avocado for one or two servings or a whole avocado for a family size salad, and massage, smoosh and otherwise knead the avocado into the plain chopped kale leaves until they are evenly covered in avocado moosh. This also (mechanically) breaks the kale down. Now, squeeze your lemons/dress the kale like I mentioned in 1 above if you haven't already, sprinkle some kosher salt or sea salt (because you aren't still using Mortons iodized salt here in your magnificent kitchen are you?!) and you are done. Taste it right now- the fat from the avocado, salt, and acid from the lemon juice have transformed the kale. OK, stop eating it now if you are going to share! I know its hard.
Now, make a salad. Today, I added mandarin orange segments, a touch of my lemon shallot vinaigrette leftover from last night's salad and some fresh mint. Holy moly, this salad? It's lovely. Grapefruit, apples, roasted beets would all be good as well.