Move over you hemp wearing vegan hippies. Your official vegetable, kale, has gone all bougie on you. What once appeared on a few scant restaurant menus has now found a cozy home at restaurants serving meals for $100 per person. No longer is the word KALE a hushly whispered 4 letter word. No! Now it’s screamed from the rooftops by anyone who’s picked up a magazine, turned on the tv or has spent more than 30 second on the internet. It seems that if you want to be part of the ‘in’ crowd, you must be seen munching on a raw kale salad. Preferably some place with lots of paparazzi so that your gustatory indulgence can be caught in all its megapixeled glory.
All that being said…and of course said in the best movie preview guy voice you can muster in your brain, it’s still pretty hard to get people excited about kale. Let’s face it, this once curly/tough as shoe leather leaf that was (not that long ago) only considered good enough to grace restaurant or grocery store display cases has now become the darling of the dinner plate. Sure, by now everyone knows the benefits of kale, but it’s never going to reach the epic excitement level of food items like pork belly or cupcakes. Trying to convince someone that raw kale is exciting is like that time your high school algebra teacher tried to convince you that entering the world of quadratic equations would be as exciting as being felt up for the first time by that boy you were pining away for all quarter (or doing the feeling up if you were the boy).
Since we’ve discovered that eating a raw kale salad will not only make you wildly popular, it might also help to get you back into those skinny jeans you’ve got balled up in the bottom of your drawer. There are lots of benefits of kale like: it’s high in iron; has loads of vitamins A, C and K; is a great antioxidant; it contains more calcium per calorie than milk and it’s high in fiber while being low in calories and containing zero fat (that whole skinny jeans thing is looking pretty doable right about now isn’t it).
So those are the health benefits of kale. But how do you make that leathery leaf taste like something you’d want to eat? Cover it in chocolate sauce? You really don’t need to go to those extremes. Once you work with it a little bit, you’ll soon find out that it can taste pretty good…and the whole shoe leather thing pretty much disappears. Which is a big part of how it’s made the transition from hippie vegan food to hoity toity side dish.
I made a raw kale salad last year that we really liked. Of course it had lots of garlic and shallots in it (what’s not to like about that). I’ve added it into a quinoa risotto, chopped it up and tossed it into mashed potatoes and pan sauteed it with lots of garlic. So, I’ve mostly used kale as another vegetable that I cook. But a couple of months ago, I had an orange cumin raw kale salad and fell in love with the raw stuff all over again. (Here we go again…break out the Tom’s or the Birkenstocks.)
Raw kale is pretty bitter stuff, which is why you usually find it cooked in some manner. But the kale salad I had in Columbus from a food cart called Freedom a la Cart (you must check out this link to read about what they do…it goes WAAAAAAYYYYY beyond food). I was introduced to the woman behind this amazing business and delicious raw kale salad through Experience Columbus. But I digress…The combination of sweet fresh cumin and orange vinaigrette was so opposite kale’s bitterness, that the two equaled each other out into a delicious combination.
I didn’t get the actual recipe, but I came up with my closest guess for the orange vinaigrette that tops this kale salad (and the salad itself was just kale). I promise you that this doesn’t taste like any raw kale salad you’ve ever eaten. Although, you could also use the orange vinaigrette on any of your favorite salad recipes.
Just because the weather is turning cold, doesn’t mean you can stop eating salads. The weather will eventually warm up again and you’ll have to put on those shorts. Besides, eating kale is totally in style…all the cool kids are doing it!
Once you become an adult, you really need to pick a side and stick with it.
Recipe: Orange Cumin Raw Kale Salad
- 1 Bunch Tuscan Kale (aka black kale or cavalo nero)
- 1 Large Orange
- 1 1/2 Teaspoons Ground Cumin
- 2 Teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- Sea Salt
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- Remove the thick stems from the kale and cut the leaves into thin ribbons and put them into a large bowl.
- Cut the rind off of the orange making sure that you get all of the white pith off as well.
- Cut the orange in half, lengthwise.
- Squeeze one half of the orange over a small container and discard what’s left of the orange.
- Slice out the sections of the other orange half while holding it over the bowl of chopped kale and drop them into the kale. (This keeps all the orange juice in the salad.)
- Add the cumin, cider vinegar and olive oil to the container of orange juice and whisk to combine.
- Pour the vinaigrette over the kale and oranges and mix it all together with your hands. (Mixing it with your hands helps to massage the oil into the leaves and slightly soften them.)
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Serve chilled or at room temperature.
You can add more orange slices if you like.
This makes 4 side salad portions or 2 lunch portions.
Preparation time: 12 minute(s)
Diet type: Vegan
Diet tags: Gluten free, Raw
Number of servings (yield): 4
Culinary tradition: USA (General)
Recipe by Pamela Braun.