Kale salads have been a staple around our house for the last few weeks. Kale is in season and is very high in beta carotene, vitamin C, and reasonably rich in calcium. Often times we saute kale with some olive oil and garlic or add it to a tomato sauce for pasta but lately, we’ve been straight up eating it raw in this kale salad recipe. With the right technique of dressing the salad, the leafy green makes the perfect crunchy lettuce for a substantial salad, add some vegetables and maybe some beans and you have a meal.
During my college years, a woman named Ruthie inspired and influenced me in her way of life and way of eating. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ve probably heard her name before when I posted her recipe for pesto. Making salad was an art form in Ruthie’s kitchen. She used a wood bowl to make a simple dressing that would well cover her greens and mesmerize her guests with how little dressing she used. I watched her rub salt and oil into an old unfinished wooden bowl with the exposed cut side of a thick piece of garlic. She rubbed the olive oil and salt all around the bowl, making sure to get flavors of the garlic into the grain of the unfinished wood. Then, she would squeeze a generous amount of lemon juice over the oil mixture and continued to rub the mixture around with the garlic until she felt like the wood was well seasoned. After that came the lettuce, which she would toss into the seasoned bowl giving it a light yet flavorful dressing. After many more meals with Ruthie, she gave me my own wooden salad bowl which I still use to this day, making my own versions of her wood bowl salad recipe.
This technique of dressing your salad greens using a wooden bowl is perfect for kale, as kale can often be too bitter without a good amount of dressing. To avoid much of the bitterness that raw kale has, you must remove the greens from the stem which holds most of the bitter flavor and to get the best flavor from kale you should massage the dressing into the greens. By rubbing or massaging this light dressing into the wooden bowl then onto the greens you get each piece of kale perfectly seasoned.
After coming back from Europe, having eaten countless buttery croissants, rich pastas, and generously filled glasses of wine, I felt like my body needed a cleanse of sorts to get back to normalcy. So, I’ve turned to this kale salad as a consistent lunch or dinner throughout the week. Now, I’m not a dieter and really don’t go on cleanses, but some seasons just call for a little more nutrition and less splurging I think. My way of thought on food is one of more consistent nutrition and health, eating well most days and splurging occasionally. There’s nothing that I completely cut from my diet, yet there are many things I only eat on rare occasion or in smaller portions. This way of life just feels good.
Here is a simple video (my version of a silent food film) using this ‘wood bowl tecnique’ to make a kale salad. Though I used kale here any green can be used and enjoyed with this wood bowl dressing.
A step by step recipe for perfect massaged kale salad topped with lots of veggies.
- 1 unfinished wood bowl
- 4 stalks of kale, removed from stems, and washed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- vegetables of your choice
- beans or chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- quinoa or rice, cooked
Peel once piece of garlic then cut in half crosswise not lengthwise. In your wooden salad bowl add salt and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Using the open cut side of the garlic rub the salt and oil into the bowl, all around the bottom and edges of the bowl. Add a big squeeze of lemon juice then continue to rub the mixture into the bowl.
Remove the kale from the stem and tear the greens into bite sized pieces, then wash and dry the kale using a salad spinner or colander.
Add the kale to the bowl and rub the greens into the salad bowl, getting the dressing all over the greens and leaving no green undressed :).
Top the kale with vegetables of your choice, some beans or chickpeas, quinoa, and maybe some avocado. Then drizzle with one tablespoon of olive oil, another squeeze of lemon juice, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. If you'd like more dressing at this point you can also add a touch of good quality balsamic vinegar.