It was a little Italian osteria in my town that turned me onto how delicious a raw lacinato kale salad can be.
I’ve eaten plenty of cooked kale. But raw kale had never appealed to me. I also knew several women who had embraced raw kale with such enthusiasm that that they ended up with hypothyroidism (low thyroid) from eating raw kale every single day, several times a day! So, even though a raw Lacinato kale salad was a staple on the menu at that osteria, I did not order it for a very long time. My husband, however, always ordered the Lacinato kale salad—and enjoyed it. On many subsequent visits to the restaurant, I was struck by how many men ordered that raw kale salad!
Getting men to eat leafy greens is no small feat! And kale, a super green and nutritional powerhouse, is an excellent choice. It is a rich source vitamins K, A and C and potassium. It contains vitamin B6, as well as minerals, such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron and zinc. A member of the cruciferous family, antioxidant-rich kale contains glucosinolates, which can be converted into cancer-fighting compounds.
Regular consumption of kale helps promote detoxification and has anti-inflammatory benefits. The carotenoids (antioxidants that protect against cellular damage) in kale are also associated with balanced mood.
Amid so many enthusiastic kale salad eaters, I finally ordered that raw kale salad. And, I immediately understood its popularity: earthy, textured greens with a hint of sweet, nutty and umami is a toothsome combination.
I liked it so much that I created my own version, using raw apple cider vinegar (instead of red wine vinegar), sans shaved Parmesan cheese (use nutritional yeast for a “cheesy” flavor), and pine nuts (optional).
Raw Lacinato Kale Salad
2 bunches of lacinato kale, stems removed
2 tablespoons dried tart cherries (unsweetened)
2 tablespoons shallots, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
4 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
4 tablespoons pure extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted (optional)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pine nuts on a cookie tray and roast 3 minutes, or until lightly golden. (Take care not to over brown or burn; otherwise, pine nuts will taste bitter). Transfer to small bowl and let cool.
Gently strip kale leaves from the stalks. Discard stems. Wash leaves well and dry.
Stack several kale leaves on top of each other. Roll stacked leaves into a tight bundle (like sushi). With a chef’s knife, finely slice the roll into chiffonade. Repeat until all kale leaves have been cut into thin ribbon-like strips.
Into a large glass measuring cup, add minced shallots, Celtic sea salt, apple cider vinegar and olive oil. Whisk continuously until well combined.
Pour 4 tablespoons of the vinaigrette into a large serving bowl. Add the shredded kale, tart cherries and pine nuts. Toss well, making sure kale is well coated with dressing. Add the remainder of the vinaigrette, as needed. If desired, add nutritional yeast. Season to taste.