First-timer's Kale Salad

Thursday, January 31, 2013

I can't quite remember how I stumbled upon Kristen's blog 'The Kale Project', an online documentation of an inspired endeavour to reintroduce her beloved vegetable, which had ceased to exist, to France, her newly adopted country. I was immediately hooked on following her crusade. The very idea of taking the seeds of an edible-plant from one country (The Netherlands, where she sources them locally) and introducing them to farmers in another (here, in France) struck me as absurdly daring - probably because I come from a country that has the strictest quarantine laws on earth. Additionally I'd never, ever, heard of kale before in my life - and I used to work on food magazines! - so I was very intrigued as to what the fuss was all about.

 The unsuspecting kale

A quick Google search for "Kale Australia" brings up a magnitude of "where do I find kale?" queries in various forums and a couple of articles on how Australia's favourite horticulturalist Peter Cundall cites kale as being the reason he's still rubbing soil through his fingers at 85. There are couple pages on how one grows kale and a few more outlining its availability at selected farmer's markets around the country, which explains why I never saw it as I did all my shopping at Harris Farm and if something wasn't available there I didn't eat it.

 No kale results at Harris Farm

I had been following The Kale Project for a good little while before I got to meet the lovely Kristen and her kale at last year's Cupcake Camp Paris charity event. She'd made beetroot and kale cupcakes with coconut icing. I saved mine for a picnic the next day and it was delicious. I then started the hunt for kale at my local bio (organic) markets but every time I'd point to a leafy, cabbagey vegetable and asked if it was the infamous kale the Frenchie manning the stand would just raise an eyebrow and shake their head.

Kristen's Kale Kupcake ready for a picnic accompanied by home-made tomato jam and curried egg.

Which is why when I recognised kale sitting in a crate, outside a tiny fruit + veg market in Folkestone, England on the weekend I kind of lost it. Mr M most definitely thought I had. It didn't look like most of the kale I'd seen on Kristen's blog, but the man inside assured me it was. So we gave him a couple of pounds and onto the back seat of the car it went.

I emailed Kristen right away to ask her for recommendations on how to best prepare a kale salad for first-time consumption, suggesting perhaps with sliced radish, roasted cherry tomatoes and a lemon vinaigrette similar to what I'd seen in recipes on The Kale Project. Kristen agreed, especially with the roasting of the tomatoes to make more wintery, and also suggested a kale salad with steamed carrots or squash, toasted almonds and Parmesan cheese, which I'll definitely be trying next time I get my hands on the stuff!
The kale is a lot meatier that I thought it would be and extremely filling. As compensation for seeing so much salad on his plate Mr M insisted we serve it alongside pork sausages we also picked up in England - not my ideal choice of accompaniment but it didn't matter, we both very much enjoyed our first kale salad.

First-timer's Kale Salad
Adapted from recipes found at thekaleproject.com
Serves two people

Ingredients
10 x stems of kale - I used the 'curly' variety
10 x cherry tomatoes
10 x radishes
1 x lemon
1 x desert spoon of good quality olive oil + a little extra for roasting
Sea salt
Freshly cracked pepper

Prepare the roasted cherry tomatoes
Preheat the oven to 180°C. In a small baking tray place the tomatoes and sprinkle on some salt and pepper. Drizzle a little olive oil and shake side-to-side so the tomatoes are well coated. Put the baking tray in the oven for 15 minutes. When ready remove the tomatoes from the tray and leave to drain on some paper towel should you not want your salad too oily.

Prepare the salad
Tear off about 10 leaves of kale and destem by making a slice either side of the stem and tearing it away from the leaf. Wash each destemed leaf well and pat dry with paper towel or use a fancy spinning lettuce dryer bowl thingy. Chop the kale so the largest pieces are about 1 cm square in size and place in a large mixing bowl.

In a smaller bowl put a dessert spoon of olive oil, some sea salt, cracked pepper and the juice of a lemon and stir to combine. Increase or decrease amounts depending on preference of taste.
Pour the dressing over the kale and mix so that all the kale is coated. For 2-4 minutes massage the dressing into the kale using your fingers - this makes the kale more tender and palatable, and more yum!

Leave the kale to marinate while thinly slicing the radish.
Mix the radish through the kale and place the roasted tomatoes on top when you're ready to serve.

2 comments :

  1. How interesting! Being from Melbourne I'd always had kale :) It must be the climate difference.

    Thanks for your great article and recipe! xxx

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  2. Probably! Sometimes I feel Melbs and Sydney are worlds apart! Thanks for the comment Lovely! xx

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