Sometimes it takes a long time to connect with a food. Kale is in this category for me. For many years it was just some curly-leaved stuff nestled next to the Swiss chard and collard greens in the grocery store. I love greens of all sorts but I just didn’t know what to do with kale, so I passed it by. Then, when I tasted the Toscana Soup at Olive Garden some years ago, and tried to duplicate the recipe at home (the Tuscan Potato Soup recipe I shared with you a while back), I tracked down the texture and flavor to what is now one of my favorite greens of all time.
Kale deepened its impression on me when I ordered the Kale Salad at Dr. Andrew Weil’s and Fox Restaurant Concepts’ collaborative effort, True Food Kitchen at the Biltmore Center in Phoenix. Oh my, it’s so fantastic when you know that something that tastes so good is also good for you. Thinly sliced leaves, chewy and tender at the same time, in a lemony dressing that screams delicious.
Then, a second encounter with the lovely kale came in a salad, combined with quinoa, that I had at Chelsea’s Kitchen (also in Phoenix). Talk about healthy … and oh-so delicious. But I could say that about most anything at Chelsea’s, which I think I might do in a later post.
The upshot was that I just had to try to recreate a version of Kale Salad for myself. I would say this one has the essence of True Food but the pizzazz of Chelsea’s. Either way, it’s pretty darn good.
6 – 8 kale leaves
¼ cup roasted pumpkin seeds
¼ cup dried cranberries
Garlic powder. Onion powder
Jane’s Crazy Mixed Up Salt, Pepper
Juice of ½ lemon
Red wine vinegar
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Do all of these preparations 15 to 20 minutes before you serve this salad.
Clean kale thoroughly, remove stems so only leaves remain, spin or pat dry. Stack leaves on top of each other, and chiffonade with a sharp knife (slice in strips about ⅛ to ¼ inch thick), then put in a salad bowl.
Add pumpkin seeds and cranberries.
Here’s where my recipe gets really loose, but this is how I have always made my salad dressing because it’s the way my mom makes hers … give it a try:
To the salad bowl, add 2 good shakes of both garlic and onion powder, 2 or 3 good shakes of Jane’s Salt, and a nice whirl or 2 of freshly ground pepper.
Squeeze in the lemon juice, add two quick rounds (or so) of olive oil, and a fast dash of vinegar. Toss the salad and then taste it. Add more seasoning, oil or vinegar if You think it needs it … Don’t laugh, this works. Everyone tells me I make the best salad dressing, so I continue to comply.
Now cover the mixed salad and set it aside, or put in it in the fridge, for about 15 minutes. The dressing marinates the kale a little and tenderizes the leaves.
Serve with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese on top, if you choose.
Eat well. Be happy.
To discover how good kale is for you, check out this article by professional foodie, Alison Lewis: