I bought a bundle of kale on the weekend, without knowing what to do with it. I’ve had kale before, but I’ve never worked with it myself. I may have attempted to make kale chips once, but clearly it wasn’t anything memorable. I ripped off a piece and put it in my mouth – it was awful – bitter and ‘dry’. After a quick search on the internet, I found hope that I could eat kale raw and enjoy it.
Rolling up my sleeves, I gently removed the elastic band holding all the stalks together. That was probably the biggest battle – little pieces of kale flew all over the place. Kale leaves are much tougher than the other typical leafy greens. The ends are crumpled and curled. I started to cut the leaves away from the center stalk, which is tough and bitter. I noticed a lot of mud when I unfolded some of the leaves, so after I cut them into manageable pieces, I soaked, washed and rinsed them thoroughly before putting them through the salad spinner to dry. I washed the leaves in warm water to bring it to room temperature. There were a few wasted stalks. The leaves were limp, which I have read happens when you put it in the fridge for 2-3 days. In addition to going limp, the flavour gets stronger with each passing day.
I made an easy dressing with ingredients I had handy – 2 Tbsp balsamic, 1 Tbsp each of rice vinegar, olive oil and honey. I ended up scooping out 4-5 tsps and setting it aside. I just felt it was a little too much dressing for my liking. I had made the dressing in a large bowl, so I tossed in the kale and started massaging in the dressing, covering all the leaves. I put it aside as letting it marinate for approximately 20 minutes helps to eliminate the bitterness. I grabbed 2 small handfuls of pine nuts and put them in the toaster oven until golden. 20 minutes later, I threw in the pine nuts and I grabbed a handful of dried cranberries.
Wow! The kale salad was delicious! No bitterness whatsoever, and no cooking required! Kale is packed with nutrients – check it out here. There have been debates whether it’s better to eat kale raw or cooked and it looks like you could benefit from lightly steaming kale. See the nutritional comparison here. Apparently the fiber content of cruciferous kale binds bile acids and helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, especially when kale is cooked instead of raw.
There have been studies related to kale and thyroid problems due to goitrogen, but it doesn’t mean you need to avoid kale or other cruciferous vegetables like bok choi or broccoli. Read the information in the two links above and speak to your doctor if you want more information.
Looks like I’ll be adding kale to my regular grocery list.