All summer long, I’ve been hearing people talk about kale salads. And all summer long, I’ve been meaning to make one. This weekend, we went out to dinner at one of my favorite Buffalo restaurants, Merge. Merge has a full dinner menu of healthy dishes featuring local, seasonal produce. It’s also one of the only places where I was sure to have many options that would be safe to eat while doing my Whole 30. One of the specials that day was a massaged kale salad with sundried tomatoes and pumpkin seeds, with a lemon tahini dressing. The salad was amazing and when I pulled a large bunch of kale out of my weekly delivery from Porter Farms the next day, it was something like fate.
Here is my take on Merge’s massaged kale salad.
If your kale has been recently picked and not pre-washed, be sure to wash it thoroughly. The curly leaves are a perfect place for dirt and leaves to hide.
Once your kale has been washed, rip it into bite sized pieces and place them in a large bowl. Discard the tough stems. Add the juice of one lemon and several tablespoons of olive oil to the kale leaves and massage the leaves with your hands. Note: this doubles as a good stress reliever after a long day at work. Take the next 5 minutes to beat up your kale however you like. Squeeze it, punch it. After a few minutes, the tough connective fibers will begin to break down and the kale will become very soft.
Once the kale is ready, toss it with a few tablespoons of tahini, a paste made from ground sesame seeds. I also added more lemon juice and olive oil until I was happy with the taste and consistency. After tossing the salad to distribute the dressing, take a section from a bulb of fennel and use a peeler to shave strips into the salad.
Then, add handfuls of sundried tomatoes and pumpkin seeds.
Once tossed, the salad is ready to be enjoyed. If you are used to using lettuce for your salads, give kale a chance. It has a very high nutritional value, rich in vitamin K, vitamin C, beta carotene, and calcium. Kale has also been shown to lower the risk of several types of cancer.