My Kale Salad

I have read so many blogs and books in the last few years as I've been teaching myself to cook and eat vegan and get all the nutrition I need. While everyone has their own idea of what you should eat more and less of, what you should NEVER eat, and what you should always eat, it seems to me that there are a couple consistent pieces of advice for vegans out there:

  • vegan junk food is still junk food (Oreos, anyone?)
  • eat beans every day
  • eat dark, leafy greens every day

With these things in mind, I've really been trying to stick to eating a big salad at lunch. Sometimes this is a pretty normal looking salad (for me, that is...) with a couple types of greens, some seeds, nuts and maybe a little dried fruit. Other days, however, I'm jonesing for a KALE salad. The first time I got my kale on was experimenting with some of the many recipes provided by Gena on her site/blog Choosing Raw. One of these was a miso peanut dressing massaged into kale with some chopped up red pepper. This was pretty good, but I kept on searching for the right mix, eating my way through kale chips and kale smoothies along the way.

Back in February, I stepped out to Social Kitchen in Birmingham with my friend Anna, where we shared a kale salad that was absolutely amazing. The kale was fresh and light. It was mixed with a simple vinaigrette, pickled red onions, pine nuts, a little shaved parm and quinoa. I think there may have been some rehydrated golden raisins in there too. It was superb. Truly. Anna doesn't even like kale and she gobbled up her half of the salad like a champ. Full disclosure: we also had the fresh made (hot!) donuts to finish off our meal. Which is to say, it wasn't all as healthy as the kale. Ahem.

The quest for kale salad apparently is not an exclusive pursuit anymore. Even so, dining on kale at a restaurant made me realize that I really needed to get my own kale salad going at home more regularly. Here's the recipe I've been working with. It is a conglomeration of recipes, so cross-pollinated that I'm pretty comfortable calling it my own.

6 large stems of kale, stems removed, shredded or thinly sliced
1/4-1/2 t salt (to taste- I use sea salt for this recipe)
1/2-1 T olive oil

1/2 apple cut into matchsticks
1/2 c cooked quinoa
1 T. hemp seeds

2 T crunchy sesame sticks
1-2 T dried cherries

After chopping the kale, place in a medium sized bowl, sprinkle with some of the salt, and massage the salt into the leaves until all the leaves are bright green and starting to soften (2 minutes?). Add more salt as needed, but taste to be sure it's not too salty...if it is, add more kale and massage further. Once the kale is soft and green, mix in your quinoa and olive oil. Toss to coat kale and distribute the quinoa. Finally, add hemp seeds, sesame sticks, and dried cherries, tossing it all one final time.

For me, this recipe is the perfect blend of nutrition (kale, thank you), salt, sweet, and crunch. It's a great lunch, and if you don't hoover the whole bowl, the leftovers are great the next day (though the sticks will be softened a bit).

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