I have a shirt that reads in oversized, block letters “Oh Kale No.” I don’t wear a lot of T-shirts, and I especially don’t wear conversation T’s, but something about this particular one spoke to me. Apparently, it speaks to others too. It’s a rare occasion that I’m out and about in it without multiple strangers grinning and commenting on it. People REALLY like this damn shirt.
But here’s the conundrum- what does it really mean? I ask because it’s been a subject of many lively debates between me and Mr. Gooder. I’m firmly on the pro-kale side. I think the tee is a cheeky way to show your support for healthy eating choices. It wasn’t until I listened to his argument that I started to see it a different way. And much as it pains me to admit it, I think the reason why I get so many chuckles is because others see it his way too: as a person fed up with having kale shoved in their faces at every turn while also pretending to be grateful- heck, enthusiastic even- about it. Apparently, everyone just wants to say “oh kale no!” but can’t for fear they’ll be kicked out of the cool kid, trendy health food ingredient club.
And I get it. I’ve had plenty of terrible kale salads. Enough that I should have sworn them off a long time ago. I once sat and watched a co-worker suffer through an especially dry, intimidating kale salad over lunch one day. After several minutes she looked up with defeat and said: “I think this thing is multiplying.” We all felt her pain.
So hold onto your (apparently confusing) conversations T-shirts, cause I’m about to drop some kale salad knowledge. No more bitter forkfuls of disappointment, because today you’re going to learn the secret to preparing raw kale: massaging it into submission. No, your kale doesn't need a backrub- but close! Massaging it will break the tough fibers down so that they’re MUCH more palatable, and then you can play with the leaves much like any other green.
Once you've given those leaves a good rub down, I like to pair them with other ingredients that have strong flavors as well to offset and enhance the inherent bitterness of the kale. In this case crisp, tart apples, snappy celery, and toasted buttery pine nuts.
MASSAGED KALE, APPLE & CELERY SALAD
(1) bunch of kale
(1) apple- chopped
(2) stalks of celery- chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts
honey mustard dressing
1) Remove kale leaves from stems. Discard stems and roughly chop the leaves. Put the leaves into a bowl, drizzle with olive oil, and squeeze half of the lemon over top. (Save the other half of the lemon for something else.) Using your hands, massage and squeeze the oil and lemon into the leaves. Do this until the leaves soften slightly. And don't be afraid to really get in there- this isn't a delicate job.
2) Toast the pine nuts lightly in a small pan for a few minutes. Make sure you keep your eye on them- pine nuts can burn quickly!
3) Top the kale leaves with the apple, celery and toasted pine nuts. You can leave the salad undressed if you like because there is already oil and lemon on it, but I like dressing it with a small amount of Primal Kitchen honey mustard dressing before tossing.
(When I can, I make my own dressings, but it's nice to have a few store bought versions on hand for busy nights. Primal Kitchen is one of my favorite brands (not sponsored BTW) because they're sugar-free and use avocado oil instead of canola oil.)
This little trick rearranged my thinking about kale, and I'm hoping it can do the same for you! Maybe in the future, we'll all be walking around with t-shirts that say: "Oh Kale Yes!"