As you can tell from the title of this post, kale salad is on the menu today. But it’s not just any kale salad.
After Monday’s 20 spring salad recipes, I wanted to bring you a brand new one that will totally knock your socks off – even if you’ve never really been into the whole kale salad thing in the past. I’ll be straight-up honest with you: kale salads have never really made my stomach very happy. Sure they tasted great at the time, and sure I really want to eat lots of it because nutritionally speaking, kale is a super source of calcium and vitamin C. But there’s always been something about these leafy greens in particular that my digestive system has trouble handling.
Sound familiar? I’m told that this problem isn’t an uncommon one, and because I really do love kale, figured I had to be doing something wrong. As it turns out, I was!
There are two secrets to totally nailing this one: Massaging and the dressing. Let’s talk about massaging first.
Since kale leaves are so tough in comparison to other greens like spinach, romaine lettuce, and even Swiss chard, the process of digestion takes a little longer. A 1-cup serving of chopped raw kale has 2.4 grams of fiber, both soluble and insoluble, and it’s the insoluble kind that our bodies can’t break down. When we cook it, this helps to break down the fiber content so our insides don’t have to, and therefore steaming kale before eating it can make it more tolerable for a lot of people – myself included. However, when eaten raw, your digestive system has a bigger job to do.
As I’m sure you’ve heard before, digestion starts in the mouth. We’re told we should chew our food lots before swallowing, and I don’t know about you but I’m certainly guilty of practically inhaling meals when my appetite is ravenous enough. But in addition to chewing a lot, massaging kale thoroughly – I mean really getting your hands in there, like you’re kneading play dough – also helps to break down the fiber.
Previously, I’d been just removing the thick stems and tossing my bits of kale with other salad ingredients, which (I suspect) was causing the tummy problems. Massaging is the new black in my house, and that’s where the next step comes in – the dressing.
I’m sure you’ve heard of ingredients like lemon juice being good tenderizers for meat, and the whole idea of a tenderizer is to soften muscle fibres. The same sort of applies to kale, only it doesn’t have muscle fibres – it’s just got fibre! Massaging kale with an acidic liquids such as vinegar, lemon juice, or other juice from a citrus fruit helps to soften the leaves, and like chewing lots or cooking, this makes the kale easier to eat. There are 2 such ingredients in this dressing – rice vinegar and lemon juice.
Guys, this might just be the best darn dressing I’ve ever made. It was inspired by the vegan oil-free miso tahini dressing that Whole Foods sells, and because it costs $6.99/bottle, I wanted to see if I could re-create it myself. The ingredients were right on the label, so I bought them myself and made an enormous batch by simply adding them in, one tablespoon at a time, constantly taste testing against the store-bought version. The result was mind-blowingly delicious and I almost wanted to run over to a neighbour’s house and go, “Taste this!! TASTE THIS!!!” I promise, you don’t be disappointed.
When making this Rainbow Kale Salad with Miso Tahini Dressing, I started by massaging the chopped kale with apple cider vinegar, then let it sit for a few minutes while preparing the other veggies. I added a bit of the miso tahini dressing to the kale and cabbage, massaged some more, tossed in the remaining ingredients, then gave everything one final stir.
The result was a beautiful, colourful bowl of vibrant plant-based goodness that I’ve eaten 3 days in a row and still can’t get enough. I hope you love this one as much as I do!
Rainbow Kale Salad with Miso Tahini Dressing
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 0 mins
Ingredients (about 10 cups)
For the dressing: (You will have leftovers – this makes about 500mL)
- 300g soft tofu
- ¼ cup tahini
- ¼ cup + 1 tbsp miso
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- ¼ cup hemp seeds
- juice of 1 large lemon
For the rest:
- 5 cups kale, chopped, rough stems removed
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups shredded purple cabbage
- 1 large carrot, shredded
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas
- 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 3/4 cup sliced radishes
- 1/3 cup pepitas
- 1/3 cup slivered almonds
Combine all ingredients for the dressing in a blender or food processor and whirl until completely smooth. Add a bit of extra lemon juice to thin if desired, then set aside.
Wash and chop the kale, removing the thick stems. In a large bowl, drizzle the apple cider vinegar over the kale and massage it for a few minutes with your hands, as if you were kneading dough.
Prepare the cabbage and carrot as directed above and add them to the kale. Pour about 1/4 cup of dressing into the bowl and continue massaging with your hands, further softening the kale.
Add all remaining ingredients to the bowl, along with a bit more dressing. Toss to coat, then serve.
Now over to you! Tell me…
- If you’re a kale salad fan, what are your favourite ingredient combos? What kind of kale do you like? I’m a fan of the lacinato/dinosaur kale because the leaves are a bit thinner, but my grocery store only seems to have the curly kind right now!
- Do you have any recipe requests for upcoming weeks? Any favourites you want cleaned up? I’m taking suggestions!