It’s time for you to eat a kale salad. You’ve been avoiding it throughout kale’s rise to celebrity vegetable status over the past couple of years, ignoring all the articles, Pinterest pins and enthusiastic reviews from friends. Pretending it’s only the hipsters, health extremists and Portland doing it. Convincing yourself that anything green can’t taste that good. Don’t be that guy. Don’t miss out on something awesome just because it’s overhyped or you’re afraid it’s going to taste like grass (it doesn’t). We’re here for your kale-aphobia intervention. Now sit your butt down and eat a kale salad.
There are some things you need to know before you attempt anything. First off, not all kale was created equal. Since you’ll be eating it raw — don’t grimace, it’s not cute on you — you’ll need lacinato kale, not curly kale. You might also hear it called “Tuscan kale,” “dinosaur kale” or — our personal favorite — “dino kale.”
Curly kale might taste like you assumed all kale would taste like when eaten raw — grass — and the texture isn’t ideal, so your safest bet is to stick with lacinato.
When you’ve brought your kale home, wash it and chop off the ribs on the leaves. You now have a decision to make: You can chop the leaves like you would Romaine, or you can chop them into smaller pieces or ribbons, which works best if you’re planning on throwing in quinoa (good idea!) or another grain. To cut ribbons, stack the leaves, remove the ribs, roll the leaves into a tube and cut crosswise into thin strips.
Don’t be afraid to try grilling your kale leaves for a different texture when you’re ready to experiment — but perhaps we should stick to the basics here since you’re still trying to overcome your kale discrimination. Baby steps. You’ll get there.
One of the greatest things about using kale as a salad green is that it can take anything you throw at (on?) it. It doesn’t shrivel in fear and wilt like some of those wimpy greens you’ve been buying. You want a hefty serving of dressing? Bring it. You want something heavy and thick, like an avocado-based dressing? Kale won’t back down.
Kale has more vitamins than you ever thought you could pack into a salad bowl. One cup of these amazing greens contains 206% of your recommended daily dose of vitamin A, 134% of your vitamin C and 684% — not a typo — of your vitamin K. Let’s compare that to Romaine lettuce, shall we? One cup of Romaine offers 82% of your vitamin A, 19% of your vitamin C and 60% of your vitamin K. Now you understand why we needed to intervene.
It’s time for you to take the next step on your own — making and eating your kale salad, and finally realizing the gloriousness you’ve been stubbornly missing out on all this time. Try one of these five kale salad recipes and join the rest of us on the bandwagon.
Don’t underestimate the power of a simple kale Caesar salad. This one, from Phoebe Lapine of Feed Me Phoebe, uses lacinato kale, breadcrumbs, olive oil, Parmesan and a homemade roasted garlic Caesar dressing.
Step it up a notch with this beautiful kale salad from Smitten Kitchen. It uses walnuts (toasted in your oven), golden raisins, pecorino cheese, olive oil and lemon juice. To top it off: toasted panko breadcrumbs, another little drizzle of olive oil and some salt and pepper. Remember how we mentioned chopping kale into ribbons? You’ll use that technique for this recipe.
Avocado and kale are a match made in heaven — whether you’re adding chopped avocado to your kale salad or using avocado to make a creamy dressing, like this recipe from Five and Spice does. You’ll need anchovies, garlic, Dijon mustard, Worcertershire sauce, avocado, lemon juice, olive oil, mayo and Parmesan.
Nuts make a great topping for kale salads, providing not only some protein and good fats but also adding a satisfying crunch and heartiness to your meal. Put an Asian twist on your salad with this spicy peanut kale salad from The Urban Baker, which uses a homemade sauce made from peanut butter, water, tahini, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, tamari, rice vinegar, agave syrup and some cayenne. Unlike the other salads we’ve listed, this one actually wilts the kale by placing it in the hot peanut sauce. Top with onions, carrots and cashews for a flavor-packed salad.
Who says salads can’t be filling? This kale salad with Meyer lemon vinaigrette, from DamnDelicious.net, really hits the spot with kale, diced avocado, quinoa, pomegranate seeds, chopped pecans, crumbled goat cheese and a homemade Meyer lemon vinaigrette. Perfect for lunch or even a Meatless Monday dinner.