Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Asian Kale Salad

Take a look at this beauty!

Last year we had a vegan chef from Sun in Bloom in New York come into our office to teach us about the benefits of eating various raw foods and demonstrate a few of her recipes. One of the foods she highlighted was kale.

She mentioned that kale is a good source of minerals and contains high levels of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as antioxidants associated with many of the anti-cancer health benefits. If that weren't enough, kale helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Basically, it's really good stuff!

I had never really eaten kale before this class because it's pretty tough when raw, and it seemed unruly to handle and not very tasty. The chef demonstrated a technique I had never thought of, though - massaging the kale! Sounds weird, but it really works. To massage the kale, you just need to add a little oil to moisten things up, then scrunch it with your hands for a few minutes. The kale goes from a big scruffy bunch of leaves to a tender, fork-friendly salad in no time.

The kale has a lot of flavor and texture and is a nice change of pace from your typical lettuces. After making a few traditional kale salads with olive oil and vinegar, I decided to put an Asian spin on it and the result was delicious. I start by grating fresh ginger and garlic into a salad bowl; I use a Microplane to  grate them so it makes a paste and you don't end up biting into chunks of raw garlic.

My ginger looks a little powdery because I store it in the freezer to keep it fresh. It actually melts into the dressing - super tasty! Then I add the kale, sesame oil and vinegar, and massage away for a few minutes...this is a good time to chat on the phone or just space out and daydream. ;-)When the kale is soft, I add my other veggies and some sesame seeds.

Finally, I top the salads with some Asian grilled salmon to add extra protein and staying power. To make the salmon, I marinate the fish overnight with some sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger powder and garlic powder. Tonight Matt threw them on the grill for about 10 minutes right before dinner. Quick and easy. I love warm salmon on top of cold salad - so good!

Asian Kale Salad

Serves 2

1 large bunch kale, washed and chopped
3 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, grated or minced
2 Tbsp. fresh ginger, grated or minced
2 tsp. rice wine vinegar
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. salt, according to your liking
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 red pepper, sliced thin 
1/2 cucumber, seeded and sliced thin
1 tsp. sesame seeds, plus more for garnish

In a large bowl, combine the kale, sesame oil, olive oil, garlic, ginger and vinegar. Massage gently for about 5 minutes, until kale becomes soft. Add remaining ingredients and toss gently to combine. Divide salad between two bowls and top with grilled salmon or shrimp. Sprinkle with additional sesame seeds and serve. 

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