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Flash in the Pan: Kale and Hearty Salad

Sometimes, you just want to eat something now. I’ve decided to offer a mini-post every once in a while, for a dish that comes together incredibly quickly, or else is so easy to make that no recipe is required. Here’s today’s “Flash in the Pan.” (For other FitP recipes, see “Categories” at right).

Well, since my back is still a bit sore, I’m opting for a “flash in the pan” today.  Hmm: sore back. . flash. . .does that make this a “flash-back”? (Ouch.  Sorry–that one hurt even more than the back injury!). 

We ate this salad the other night along with my newfound amore, nutroast (don’t tell the HH).  This is one of my favorite salads ever, and even The Girls  love it (without the onion, of course).  Oh, and there’s no strain whatsoever on your back when you mix this together.

(“Yes, Mum, this is definitely a keeper.  But what do you mean, nutroast is your new amore?  What about US? Aren’t WE at the top of the list???”) 

My only experience with green leafy vegetables prior to my year at nutrition school was the archetypal (and, oddly, newly resurrected) iceberg lettuce.  In fact, my dad still eats a salad of torn, waterlogged iceberg, chopped woody tomato, and sliced, wizened cucumber pretty much every day for lunch.  Is there any wonder I never thought to branch out?

Then, throughout that same year, I kept hearing rumblings about these mythological creatures called “green leafy vegetables.”  Armed with mighty stems; dressed with undulating green fronds;  festooned with ruffly, bi-colored leaves, these creatures seemed like a veggie version of fabled videogame heroes.  I’d read paragraphs in our textbooks and stare, entranced, at the photos, but couldn’t remember ever having tasted any. 

But wait; I did remember coming close, as a teenager when I’d visit my best friend, Sterlin.  As nerdy adolescents, we bonded over the fact that neither of us had a boyfriend throughout high school.  We’d regularly spend weekend sleepovers at each other’s houses, blabbing and gossiping and avoiding homework (and cursing the fact that neither of us had a boyfriend), until the wee hours of the morning. 

Since my mother, my sisters and I were always baking something or other, sleepovers at my house involved chocolate chip cookies, brownies, apple cake, my mom’s famous chiffon cake or my then-favorite cookie,  Chocolate Shadows (a monstronsity of chocolate, peanut butter and mint, from the Pillsbury Bake-Off Cookbook). When we bunked at Sterlin’s house, however, our  2:00 AM munchie raids inevitably led us to her parents’ near-empty freezer, where we’d find. . .boxes of frozen spinach.  I have no idea why they were always so well stocked on spinach, but since that was all we could find, that’s what we ate.  Sterlin would pull out a box, heat it up in the microwave (hers was the first family I knew to have one), and we’d munch on soggy, unevenly heated, spinach. 

Needless to say, the highschool freezer exploits didn’t exactly increase my desire to sample kale, collards, chard, or the like. But once I did discover leafy greens, years later, I was instantly smitten.  I ended up trying every green-leafy recipe I could find, and seemed to love them all.  And I daresay, this is one of the best. 

When I mention that this salad uses raw kale, I’m often met with resistance.  “But isn’t it bitter?”  I’m invariably asked. 
Well, let’s get one thing straight: buying a lottery ticket and having the guy at the kiosk check it, tell you it’s a loser, then cash in the $5.6 million jackpot himself–that’s bitter.  Bending down to pick up your dog’s water bowl and ending up spending almost two weeks in bed with an excruciating back problem–that’s bitter. Dating narcissistic Rocker Guy (he of the black leather pants) for three months, then having him dump you for his ex-girlfriend before you can break up with him–that’s really bitter (but am I bitter?  Why, no, no of course not, don’t be silly!)

But kale?  Nope.  Not bitter. 

This dish is well-known in the “living foods” community–so much so, that I’m not even sure to whom I should attribute it.  But a couple of years ago, I attended the Vegetarian Awakening conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan (what a fabulous experience!  Imagine my elation: three entire days, knowing I could eat every single thing available all weekend!), and one of the chefs there, Chad Sarno, demonstrated this salad, so I’m going to credit him.  There are multiple variations floating around on the Internet as well.

This salad is so quick and easy, you will not believe how delicious it is.  It contains only 5 major ingredients (with optional add-ins). And because it’s so green and healthy, chock full of antioxidants, minerals, Omega-3 fatty acids and fiber, I’m submitting this recipe to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging event, originated by Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen and this week hosted by Susan at The Well-Seasoned Cook.

Raw Kale and Avocado Salad

Kale, with its frivolous ruffles, is like a perky vegetable tutu. It’s often referred to as the “Queen of Vegetables” for its amazing nutritional profile. 

1 large bunch green kale, washed, stems removed, finely diced (about 1/2 inch or 1 cm. squares)

1 medium tomato, chopped

1 medium carrot, grated (optional)

1 green onion, sliced thinly (optional)

1 large ripe avocado

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (or use 1 Tbsp. each olive and hemp or olive and flax oils)

juice of 1/2 lemon, or to taste

salt, to taste

Place the kale in a large bowl and top with remaining ingredients.  Now comes the fun part: first, wash your hands.  Next, squish the kale and everything else repeatedly between your hands and fingers, “massaging” the kale to help it soften and to blend all the ingredients to create a smooth and creamy dressing over the kale.  Eat immediately.  I adore this salad!  Make 4-6 servings.  Will keep one day in the fridge (but is a bit less perky the second day).

[“We adore this this salad, too, Mum–it’s OUR new amore! Thanks for sharing.”]



22 comments to Flash in the Pan: Kale and Hearty Salad

  • I’ve always been a leafy-greens-lover – kale is a VeggieGirl obsession, for sure!!

    That kale-salad looks marvelous – perfect ”Flash in the Pan” dish!! Glad to see that The Girls like it too :0)

    Hope your back feels 100% better, soon!!!


  • Another new way to eat kale? count me in! And it’s even raw!
    Good luck with your back!


  • Oh how I love the photo of The Girls eating their kale! So cute and so healthy. Henry really has a thing for carrots, I should try kale with him next.

    I love recipes that get my hands dirty; this one sounds great!


  • Love the scrunching method.

    That lottery scandal’s a bit dodgy, isn’t it?

    Can’t wait for kale now. Sad bunches have been turning up now and then at the market, but soon, kale will be the queen of winter greens. Yum.


  • Courtney

    You know, I love kale (LOVE it!), but I have never tried it raw! Steamed, baked, boiled, sauted, etc.–you name it, I have tried it with kale. But not raw…I am going to make this this weekend!

    Sorry to hear you back is still bothering you!



  • I think this sounds wonderful! I keep trying to buy kale, but at my store it’s always rather limp and tired looking. This looks like it’s worth a trip to Whole Foods.


  • Massaging your kale in a salad – what a good idea – it can taste a bit too . . . wholesome otherwise. I love the thought of you and Sterlin feasting on spinach. That’s taking the midnight munchies just a bit too far!


  • VeggieGirl,
    So glad to find another kale lover! All greens, actually. And thanks for the well-wishes re: the back–it’s still waaaay better than last week; just a wee bit sore!

    Alice (in Veganland),
    Thanks so much for your comment! Glad this sounds appealling. And thanks for the good wishes–feeling better already!

    I bet Henry would love it, too (it’s covered in avocado, after all). And yes, lots of fun to make–sort of like finger-paints in kindergarten 🙂 .

    Scrunching–great way to release stress, actually! And yep, that lottery scandal was BIG news over here (they’ve revamped the entire system as a result).

    You must try it this way–even though I also love kale in all its guises, this is now my very favorite way to eat it! And just a slight relapse re: the back–but still on the mend overall (thankfully).

    I think it really is worth the trip–it’s best with nice, crispy, fresh kale. If it wilts, just use it in a stir-fry or soup instead 🙂 .

    The “massaging” does something, because I find it completely delicious this way–no bitterness at all. And the spinach–well, I’ve never felt the same way about it since!


  • Can you believe we used to eat iceberg lettuce and actually think it was good for us? Amazing.
    I’ve never had raw kale in a salad before, but I’m a firm believer that avocados can make anything good! Plus I’m guessing I lose nutrients from the kale even when I steam it. Now I just need to convinve my hubby of the deliciousness of kale!

    Oh, and thank you sooooo much for listening to the radio show! It’s so nice to hear the feedback and I really appreciate it 🙂


  • Kale is something I still haven’t managed to buy – all I have managed to see about is the occasional bunch of tuscan kale. Uncooked kale scares me a little as it is still the great unknown but in some ways I prefer the leaves with a bit of backbone rather than limp and insipid after cooking. I love the idea of a scrunchy salad – must find some kale to expermiment with soon!

    Oh and I am a bit of a fan of iceberg on the odd occasion – I think it is partly due to growing up with it in salads just like you described – I like lettuce with some crunch so most pleased to see it is undergoing a resurgence


  • Ricki,
    You are so funny. You had me rolling here with that bit about being bitter! Ever think of getting into stand up comedy? I’m serious! I think you would be a natural 🙂

    I love me so me kale. I, too, am a convert to all things green and leafy. This is a great recipe…thanks so much for sharing.



  • Johanna,
    I think you’ll like this–both crunch and scrunch! I just can’t get excited about iceberg any more, though, not when there’s romaine around!

    Har har! Thanks, but I don’t think so. . . I tried an improv course once and simply couldn’t believe how hard it was to be funny on demand (I totally admire you for doing it!!). But do enjoy the recipe (even appropriate for Passover, I’d think . . .).


  • Massaging the kale w/ the other ingredients reminds me of preparing kimchi; you have to rub salt in the cabbage. There must be something to it. A very clever technique, Ricki! Thanks for sharing it with WHB!


  • I love-love-love a ‘massaged’ kale salad – good for you, sharing the word!


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  • This looks great! Thanks for linking to it.


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  • Ari

    Sorry if I sound totally ignorant, but do you squish the avocado pieces too when you massage it? Does the texture soften a bit? I have a hard time eating it raw because of the texture and bitterness (you said that goes away) but the texture is still ummm..like chewing grass? lol. Just wondering if that improves too? 🙂 Sorry for the silly ?!


    Ricki Reply:

    Ari, I’d say that’s a reasonable question. 🙂 Yes, the avocado gets squished and “massaged,” too, and thereby creates the creamy dressing in the salad. I find that the kale is still pretty crunchy and relatively firm, but I like that grassy characteristic! 😉 It’s got the crunch of a really fresh romaine lettuce, I think. I cut the pieces really small so that there is less chance of them remaining too stiff. Hope that helps!


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