Even though a kale craze seems to have swept the nation, there are still a lot of people who tend to think of kale as the less-friendly cousin to Romaine. The thing is though, buying kale from a farmers market and trying to eat it plain is definitely not the way to go about it. There are some great ways to improve the naturally thick, cellulose-y consistency and introduce some different flavors to complement that bitter taste that characterizes most varieties of kale.
To begin with, one of the best ways to bypass some of the stronger flavors of kale is with the dressing. When it comes to the dressing, there are a lot of options that work pretty well with kale. However, the recipe we've included is one that tends to be even better because its base is more acidic; a common misconception about kale is that creamy or cheesy dressings are best for kale because their flavors go well together, but in truth dressings with a citrus or vinegar base are best for breaking down some of the rougher fibers in kale.
A few simple steps:
Start with the dressing, which can actually be kept well in the fridge for up to a week. Begin by mincing the garlic as finely as possible. Squeeze the juice from the lemon and remove the seeds, then add the juice to the rest of the ingredients. You can use a blender to combine the ingredients or simply whisk them together vigorously to incorporate the Dijon and the oil. If it sits for a while before use, it will need to be shaken up a bit before adding it to the salad.
Next, the most important part of any kale salad is how you prep the kale leaves. There are a number of ways to soften the rough fibers that are so conducive to nearly any form of kale. The most important step that should not be skipped is massaging the kale. Thanks to the kale trends that have swept the nation in recent years, we're sure that by now you've heard about the process of massaging kale before consuming it in salads in order to start the breakdown of rough fibers. Simple separate out the leaves and knead each one with plenty of pressure between your fingers. Remove the stems from each leaf and set aside the severed leaves for chopping. Instead of tearing like you might tear the leaves from lettuce, slice the kale into thin strips. The rough texture won't disappear completely even after massaging, so thinly sliced strips make it easier to enjoy the salad. To further soften the leaves, you can add the dressing in immediately after the kale has been prepared; the acidity of the lemon juice aids in the breakdown
While the almonds would be good just mixed in raw, they are even better if you toast them quickly before adding them to the salad. To give them that extra crunch, heat the olive oil with the temperature at medium high, allowing it to warm up for about a minute before adding in the almonds. Another option is to add the brussels sprouts in with the almonds to allow them to pick up a little extra flavor. Add in a few dashes of salt and be sure to stir the mixture a few times while toasting for about two minutes before removing them to a plate covered with a paper towel to absorb excess oil.
This is the last step before assembling the salad! Add the almonds and brussels sprouts to the bowl of kale and microgreens and stir well. If you did not previously add in the dressing, do so at this point. Add in the cheese and a few flourishes of microgreens to top it off, and you've got a classic and insanely healthful salad to enjoy any time of the year!