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Anyone who has ever eaten lunch with me can attest that I love salads. As the weather starts to warm up I start to crave more and more fresh vegetables and a big salad can be an easy, healthy, and filling way to get them. To keep my craving satiated, but my taste buds from getting bored, I try switching up the ingredients in my salad pretty frequently. Salads can be so much more than iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, and carrots. Add walnuts or sunflower seeds for a boost of heart healthy unsaturated fats and a hearty crunch. Add dried (or fresh) fruit for a burst of sweetness. Dried cherries are my favorite. And mix up your greens or salad base.
For the longest time I loathed raw kale. I would swap spinach, or romaine, or spring mix as my base, but never raw kale. It was too bitter and made my mouth feel dry, which is not a good combo. But then I found out about massaging kale. It sounds a lot stranger than it actually is.
First, let me explain why you would even want to use your valuable time doing this. Massaging kale makes the leaves more tender and gives them an almost silky texture. Beyond that it reduces the bitter flavor. Both of my complaints about raw kale have been resolved.
Now how to do it. To massage kale, with clean hands simply remove the leaf from the middle stem, also known as de-stemming. The stem is edible, but a bit stringy and crunchy for my tastes. You can save it to add to sautéed veggies or soup stock. Then using either salt, olive oil, or your favorite salad dressing, you rub the leaf. In my opinion the quickest way to massage your kale is to destem all of it and throw it all in one big bowl. Then add your desired amount of salt, olive oil, or dressing, and massage by rubbing pieces of kale together in the bowl. Before you know it the leaves will become darker green and have a softer texture. Taste a piece and see if it is the right texture for you. Then add the rest of your ingredients and dig in. The best part is, much like coleslaw, as long as you don’t add any ingredients that would get soggy, like croutons, the salad will taste better after sitting overnight in the fridge. So no more having to pack a side of salad dressing, your kale salad is ready to go.
Remember though, olive oil and salad dressing can add a lot of calories, so pay attention to how much you are adding. If you are watching your sodium intake you may want to limit the amount of salt you are using to massage your kale or use olive oil or dressing instead.
I hope I’ve convinced you to add a few more salads to your diet this spring.
Need a little more guidance? Use this recipe from Colorado Cooperative Extension.
And make sure any of the vegetables (or fruits) you add to your salad are clean. Check out our handout on how to wash produce.
And check out our “Dazzling & Delicious Salad” program for even more fun salad ideas. Email me to see if there is a program running near you.
FCS Program Coordinator