BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked

The Kale Conundrum

37 Comments

Kale: The poster child for all things wholesome, healthy, and generally good. Once shunned as merely a frilly garnish for deli cases, no greater redemption story can be found in the produce aisle. Excellent both cooked and raw, agreeable with any flavors thrown at it, kale remains humble even after so much glowing praise has elevated it to super food status, willing to work with any supporting ingredients thrown at it. Joining the bandwagon like everyone else, I dutifully buy my kale, encouraged by those frilly, vibrant leaves, imagining a sea of recipes ideal for this fresh addition.

Out of the grocery bag back at home, it gingerly goes into the vegetable bin. A day later, heavier vegetables are moved around and get placed on top of the once firm stems, now quickly softening to imitate limp noodles. Another day passes, and surely I’ve forgotten I ever purchased such a thing; the tender green curls are crushed beneath a second load of re-sorted produce. Fast forward a week, and no doubt that same kale would still be there, beginning to yellow around the edges drooping like a neglected bouquet of flowers. Kale goes into the bin, and it’s time to go grocery shopping again. Oh, look at that kale, I should get some!

No more of this madness! I’ve had enough of throwing away perfectly good kale. My forgetfulness is inexplicable, but for some reason, kale just never seems to quite fit into what I’m making at the moment. Instead of repeating the same pattern yet again, I stopped the cycle halfway through, deciding that the only way out was to construct a new dish built around the greenery itself.

Typical kale pitfalls include: 1) Giant, uncut pieces that must be chewed for months to properly break down, 2) Overcooked, grey, and bitter leaves, and 3) Bland, boring and approaches simply too austere to genuinely enjoy. Shredding my raw kale finely and pairing it with bright, exciting flavors solved my last remaining scraps of hesitation with ease. Kelp noodles were sitting sadly at the bottom of the fridge, similarly forgotten, so I threw them in as well, but they turned out to be superfluous. With or without the noodles, I know this is one dish that will put the brakes on my poor kale-keeping habits.

A one-dish wonder that won’t weigh you down, this is a substantial salad that packs in edamame for protein, and plenty of good fats via avocado, pinenuts, and just a dab of olive oil. Above all else though, the invigorating lemon and ginger dressing makes it no chore to plow through a big bowlful of greens, no matter how remiss you’ve been on squeezing them into the daily diet before.

Crave-Worthy Kale Salad

Optional:
12 Ounce Package Kelp Noodles
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
Warm Water

1 Bunch Kale, Washed and Dried
3 Scallions
1 Cup Shelled Edamame
1 English Cucumber, Halved and Sliced
1 Ripe Avocado
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Mirin
1 Teaspoon Lemon Zest
1 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
Big Pinch Cayenne Pepper
Salt to Taste
1/4 Cup Toasted Pine Nuts or Sunflower Seeds

If using kelp noodles, place them in a small bowl and add warm water to cover. Mix in the lemon juice and stir to combine. Let sit and soften for at least 15 minutes while you prepare the rest of the salad. Rinse and drain thoroughly before using.

Remove the large, woody stems from the kale, and then stack up the leaves on top of each other for easier slicing. Chop them into thin ribbons, and add them to a large bowl. Thinly slice the scallions, and toss those in along with the edamame and cucumber.  Dice the avocado and toss it with the lemon juice before introducing it to into the same bowl, along with any leftover juice. Finally whisk together the oil, mirin, lemon zest, ginger, cayenne, and salt, and pour the dressing over the greens. Toss everything very well to combine, and as well as the kelp noodles if using. Top each serving with pine nuts or sunflower seeds before serving.

Serves 4 – 6

Printable Recipe

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Author: Hannah Kaminsky

Author of My Sweet Vegan, Vegan Desserts, Vegan a la Mode, and Easy as Vegan Pie.

37 thoughts on “The Kale Conundrum

  1. Oooh I am writing about kale for iEatGrass.com next week; totally going to link to this recipe! You’re fantastic, as always.

  2. I never understand how to prepare kale. Sometimes I toss it in tofu scramble just to make it go away. Normally I just rub it in a tahini sauce and eat it raw. I will have to try your recipe!

  3. Your story is the story of my kale. I beleive there is some sitting in my bin right now – which i bought last week. Forgotten! Poor thing.
    kale salad it is tonight! Thanks for the recipe

  4. sometimes i run into the same issue with my kale–but i’ve learned to use it up before it goes bad by putting it into a smoothie—or just juicing it….
    thanks for reminding me about the bag of kelp noodles i have sitting in my fridge–i need to write a blog post like you did for kale, but for the kelp noodles!–i’ve forgotten about them–they can’t go bad?? sitting in salt water??

    • Well, I’m sure that kelp noodles can go bad, but… I’ll admit it, mine were at least 2 months old before they went into this salad. Just give them an extra-thorough rinse, and you’ll probably be fine.

      • thanks for responding….kelp noodles are one of those things that once i get around to using them, i ask myself–‘why don’t i use them more often?’–then i buy myself a new bag after coming off the euphoria of a meal of raw pad thai w/Kelp noodles, and get into another neglectful cycle–lol

      • No problem, it’s exactly the same for me! It’s the story of kale all over again, but in a [thankfully] less perishable form.

  5. that sounds utterly delicious. Hale the kale!

  6. Thank you Hannah for sharing this yummy looking recipe. : )
    I love kale, but I have to admit, the story of my vegetable bin sounds like a carbon copy of yours……
    I have a couple of bags of kelp noodles and one of them will be used to make your creation.
    Your cookbooks are wonderful.

  7. This kale salad looks out of this world! I love the addition of kelp noodles to the salad.

  8. I’ve been known to let veggies go bad in my fridge, too, but I usually eat my kale before it’s demise. :)

  9. this is exactly what happens to my kale too.. i mean sitting in the refrigerator.. so now i just put a little in almost everything.. we eat indian food.. so it goes in the Daal, goes into any dry vegetable subzi, goes into stuffed breads.. goes into side salads.. and there’s still some left! perfect for this zesty salad.

  10. I had a good laugh at your story…I do the same thing…frequently! I think I just never feel like washing it. Your salad looks amazing.

  11. Looks like you solved my kelp noodle conundrum…those babies have been in my fridge for a while!

  12. Wow, talk about making kale appetizing! That dressing sounds just perfect, and the presentation is lovely!

    The greens I buy often suffer the same fate if I leave them for a few days, which is why I try to cook them right away.

  13. delicious! a perfect way to enjoy KALE! we just got some kelp noodles, and love the idea of mixing in kale with them ;) YUM

  14. I like to eat kale out but I do not make it myself. Your version looks divine, I want to eat it right off the page.

  15. I’ve become a big fan of massaged kale salads lately. BIG fan. Thought I didn’t think I would be. Add some ginger and all this green power food…and I’m sure it’d be love at first bite!

  16. No fairsies! My pitfall with kale is not finding it in the first place, and now you taunt me with this deliciousness?! Cruel woman! :P

  17. Kale is very popular in Brazil and it’s almost impossible to find it here in Dublin. I wish I could eat it every single day. Really.

  18. Ha ha! I laughed reading your kale tale! When I was home for the holidays, I bought a big gorgeous bunch of kale and left it in the crisper and piled things on top of it just like you did but for 4 weeks! It was on my mind all the time like I had vegetable guilt for ignoring it. The day I left I gave it to my sister. It still looked the same as the day I bought it! At least it made her happy.

  19. Looks so good! I almost shed a few years for that poor wilted kale, please donate any to me! And kelp noodles, I’d die for those too!

  20. Pingback: Slow-cooker: Chickpea and Kale Stew « in fine balance

  21. Even I have seen the occasional kale begin to yellow,hidden in my fridge. It think this has happened to all of us. I always love massaged kale salads with avocado and lemon juice, but this one seems to add a few more details…..will have to try it!

  22. Apparently the way you treat your kale is quite the opposite to mine. ;)
    Here in Sweden kale is for some weird reason only available in stores in late November and up until christmas eve, and is mostly used as garnish on the christmas buffé, so during that period kale is at the center of everything I eat. I don’t plan a dish and then leave out the kale because i does not fit, I make a dish out of what goes well with the kale… Which is a lot of things.
    In late December I cut and steam several pounds of kale and fill up my freezer, so if you have some kale and don’t know what to do with it, this is a great way to preserve it!

    If you want some inspiration, her are my kale recipes translated to English: http://translate.google.com/translate?client=tmpg&hl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fvegologi.blogspot.com%2Fsearch%2Flabel%2FGr%25C3%25B6nk%25C3%25A5l&langpair=sv|en

  23. I am ON IT. Off to rescue the kale. I always love your savory, green recipes!

  24. I do like the idea of kale, and I’ll often buy a bag of the stuff with good intentions, but same thing happens to me all the time – it just doesn’t seem to fit into any of my normal go-to recipes – kale curry? kale with pasta? stir fry kale…? The only one I find it goes well with is a german style dinner (Grünkohl). That’s probably cause they tend to serve some kind of cabbage side dish with any meal!

  25. I looove me some kale and simply throw it in my protein shakes once I’ve used it for whatever it was originally intended for. Is it crazy that I just feel more healthy having it around? :)

  26. Beautiful photos. Love the addition of pine nuts to this salad (and your olive oil flask in the background!).

  27. Great looking kale salad Hannah! Once I started eating kale I was hooked. I actually started craving it. I blend it in smoothies, finely chop it up and mix into enchilada fillings, soups, etc. My dog, Ace, even loves kale, he’ll eat it right out of my hand!

  28. We love kale and have eaten it for years. Never have had it raw though. We have grown our own, which is the ultimate!! Fresh kale, gently washed – twice – then the stems cut out and the rest torn into smaller bits. Add them, along with water and salt, to a large soup pot and let them cook. Doesn’t take long either. Kale is delicious done just that simply. But, if you must have something more exciting, add a few peeled potatoes and a bit of ham. This is really good.

  29. This looks and sounds delicious!! I’m guilty of the tossing a yummy veggie to its inevitable death in the crisper.. so sad. I love the addition of kelp noodles! Those are sooo tasty! I’ve never made them at home before… that might need to change!

  30. I love all the stuff you’ve added to this salad! The avocado, pine nuts, edamame and lemon sound like they’d be so good with kale.

  31. Great looking salad. I love kale and put it in everything (you can easily add fresh kale it to most dishes, just chop it fine and throw it in, soups, pastas, whatever!). I DO find serious differences in texture with organic vs. conventional kale, the organic is much softer and tastier. I only buy organic kale (for that reason and for pesticides!).

    Also, if you get stuck with very old and unusable kale, just chop it up and compost it. Please don’t throw it (or any other old veggie or fruit) in the landfill! Here’s a tumbling composter (the one I have) for city dwellers with a deck or suburban folks with a small yard or frequent animal visitors. It doesn’t smell at ALL, no animals can get in, and it makes great compost! We cut our trash SO much by using a composter. Also, used coffee grinds AND the filters can go in, along with many other things. Google for what can be composted, it’s amazing. XOXO

  32. Yay kale! I’m really not crazy about typical salads, but I could happily eat salads made with kale, chard, collards, etc as meals. I agree wholeheartedly with your kale pitfalls…although for whatever reason, when I used whole raw leaves (unsoftened!) between pieces of bread with some avocado, it somehow became way more easy to chew and palatable. It was magical. I love the Asian-y vibe to this salad, and your pictures are stunning…that blue cloth really makes everything else stand out!

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