The pick-your-own garden at our CSA Sunrise Farm is twisted with beautiful pea vines right now! Both snow peas and snap peas are on the menu, and I'm delighted...Read More
Lemon-Maple Kale Salad with Dates and Almonds
Have you ever massaged your kale?! I didn’t really understand why kale salads were so popular until I learned the massaging trick.
Now it all makes sense.
Bitter and tough, but loaded with flavor, vitamins, minerals, and fiber, kale has a well-deserved reputation as a numero uno leafy green. And when you break down its defenses with a little salt and a lot of tough love, it yields, becoming less bitter, more flavorful, and able to stand up to luscious dressings for days.
All you do is remove the tough ribs, chop the kale into slivers or bite-sized pieces, and place it in a very large bowl. Add a pinch of salt, toss the leaves to distribute the salt, and start massaging. Just grab handfuls of kale, rubbing them against each other and squeezing the leaves. It’s similar to kneading dough, and the harder you are on the kale, the more tender it will be later. The massaging action breaks down the kale’s cellulose structure, leaving it tender, silky, darker in color, and less bitter. The best way to know if you’ve massaged it enough is to take a little bite: if it’s still leathery or bitter, it needs more of a rubdown.
This salad has a sweet-and-sour balance—thanks to the lemon, maple, and dates—with the nutty crunch of slivered almonds against silky, chewy kale leaves.
Lemon-Maple Kale Salad with Dates & Almonds
Serves 2-4 | Prep 10 minutes | Marinate 20 minutes | Whole30 compliant without sweetener
1 large bunch kale, stems removed, leaves finely chopped
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon maple syrup (omit for Whole30)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons sliced almonds
6 dates, pitted and chopped
garnish: grated lemon zest
Place the kale in a large bowl. Add a pinch of salt, then use your hands to massage the kale vigorously for 2-3 minutes (or more).
In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice, maple syrup, garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes, then drizzle in the olive oil while you continue to whisk. Pour the dressing over the kale and mix with your hands to coat the leaves. Place in the fridge to marinate for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, toast the almonds in a dry pan over medium-high heat, until they’re golden brown, about 2 minutes. Keep an eye on them; they can burn quickly! Set aside to cool.
To serve, toss the kale with the almonds and dates, then top with a little sprinkling of lemon zest. This salad stays fresh without wilting for 2-3 days in the fridge.
You Know How You Could Do That?
replace dates with raisins or dried apricots
replace almonds with chopped pecans or cashews
replace maple syrup with honey
replace lemon juice with orange juice
So, putting that all together… here’s another delicious flavor combo: apricots, pecans, honey, and orange juice. Or… dates, cashews, honey, and lemon. You’re welcome.