Friday, March 15, 2013


Call out I'm massaging some kale, who wants to join me?




Receive the very familiar rejection chorus of I'm doing my homework, I'm snuggling with the dog, I'm going to clean my room, I need to work on my screenplay.

Dodge a kiss from your husband because you don't remember the last time you brushed your teeth. Throw six anchovies into a hot cast iron pan. Thwack the garlic cloves off the microplane grater and watch them merge with the melting fishies. Scare your husband out of the kitchen by turning the radio to Ryan Seacrest's American Top 40. Whisk in dijon, olive oil, scrappily chopped shallots, and one two three big splashes of sherry wine vinegar. Drag your finger through the warm mix. Taste. Forget who you are, where you are, what you are.

Wipe the anchovy grease off the stove with a paper towel and toss it into the overflowing compost bin. Wash, dry, stack, chop the kale. Place in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil. 

Smell a fire. Wonder if someone is smoking outside your kitchen window. Imagine smoking your first cigarette in over 18 years. See yourself enjoying an 11 a.m. martini along with that cigarette. Shake shake shake that dream right on out of your head.

Start shifting the leaves between your fingertips.

Smell a fire. Worry that someone's house is burning down.

Squeeze and twist the leaves until they wilt down and explode in all their green glory. Know that you could do this all day long and be quite content.

Look up from the kale and realize that the fire is three feet in front of you in your own kitchen. Yell out unprintable words. Dump an entire box of baking soda on the flaming compost bin. Hide the smoking mess on the back porch. Hose it down.

Resume the massage. Hear a 5-year-old creature creeping up from behind. Spin around and scare your son by flashing oily green hands. Evade his questions about the smoky kitchen. Turn up the radio. Massage the kale in four-handed unison. Belt out I belong with you, you belong with me, you're my sweetheart. Tell your son that kale has been as overplayed in 2013 as this song by The Lumineers. Realize that he has no idea what you're talking about.

Toss the kale with the warm vinaigrette. Turn the radio off. Invite your husband to step away from his screenplay and into the kitchen. Give him a deep anchovy-garlic-flavored kiss. Watch your son scrunch his face up in disgust. Feel happy that he's more grossed out by kisses than by kale.

Motherfucking om.
I've made 20 different kale salads over the past month. A few thoughts:

—I 've used many different kinds of kale. Dinosaur, curly, Siberian, and premier. All with great success.
— You don't have to destem the kale. But according to Dash, it's more enjoyable if you do because then you don't have to pick the stems out of your teeth. Up to you. But don't bother when the leaves are small and delicate.
—If you choose to massage your kale, it will wilt down to about 1/3 of the original amount. So buy a lot of kale!
— These greens will suck up anything you put on them. The dressing must be flavorful or your salad will be boring. High acid. Hella garlic. Generous amount of salt. After massaging with olive oil, you can toss the greens with fresh garlic, olive oil, salt, and lemon juice. Or you can get a bit more complicated and make a warm anchovy garlic vinaigrette (see recipe below). 
— Kale goes beautifully with squash, potatoes, citrus, nuts, cheese, bacon, lamb, chicken. So you can make a side salad or pile on the components and turn the situation into a full meal.
— You can mix the already massaged kale in with other greens such as cabbage, fennel, romaine.
— Once massaged, it holds up really well in the fridge for a few days.

Things to add to the massaged kale:

— Toasted almond, navel orange slices, blue cheese.
— Pine nuts, parmesan, pomegranate molasses, chopped parsley (see first photo below).
— Roasted butternut squash, roasted garlic, thick balsamic vinegar (see second photo below).
— Avocado, tangerine, walnuts.
— Manchego, apple, pecans.
— Balsamic-grilled peaches, goat cheese.
— Flank steak, grilled onions.
— Chicken, caramelized shallots, preserved lemons.
printable recipe
Here's a template. See above for some possible additions. Almost anything works with kale. It also tastes great very simply dressed.

6 anchovy fillets, packed in oil
3 cloves garlic, grated or very finely chopped
2 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
1 shallot, chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
4-8 tablespoons olive oil (for dressing)
2 big bunches kale (any kind)
3-5 tablespoons olive oil (for massaging kale)
crunchy salt

Heat a pan on medium heat (I use cast iron for this recipe). Add anchovies. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to help them disintegrate. Once they're a paste, turn heat to low heat and add grated garlic. Cook for about 30 seconds until the garlic smells sweet and fragrant. Whisk in vinegar.  Add shallots and cook for about 30 seconds. Take off the heat. Whisk in mustard. Slowly whisk in half of the olive oil. Taste. Add more olive oil if it's too tangy. 

With a knife or your fingers, strip kale leaves away from the stems. Save stems for vegetable stock or a gratin. Stack leaves. Chop into 2" slices. Wash. Dry. Place kale in a large bowl. Drizzle over a few tablespoons of olive oil. Massage for about 5 minutes. It will wilt down and soften quite a bit. 

Add big pinch of crunchy salt. Drizzle with a few tablespoons of anchovy vinaigrette. Toss. Taste. Let sit for 20 minutes. Taste again. You'll probably need to add a bit more dressing. Serve like this. Or toss with pretty much any meat, poultry, nuts, cheese, or fruit. See options above.

Once massaged, you can refrigerate the kale for a few days and the texture will remain the same. But don't add the vinaigrette until the day you're going to eat the kale.


  1. Yes, oh yes. Big craggy croutons, lightly toasted pine nuts and curls of Parmesan on whole leaves of dinosaur kale drenched in that anchovy dressing is my idea of a good time. Kudos to the chef.

    1. Yes - amazing - you have really got to the bottom of the whole meditate on good raw foods here - awesome! Love your sense of humour!

  2. Reading a new post on this blog makes my day every time! I really think you make a lot of people feel a lot less alone with your writing!! Can't wait to be back in my Berkeley house. I <3 kale :)

  3. Dude, I loved every word of this post. The flow was spot on. I felt like I got to breathe a little deeper just reading it.
    And yes to kale salads... who cares about the kale fad.... the stuff is crazy good and crazy good for you. When am I coming to your house for salad by the way? I'm adding this one to my list.

  4. Photos = fantastic. I cannot believe I have never made massaged kale salad (steamed/sauteed/etc. but never massaged); this has definitely pushed me over into the 'must try immediately' camp.

  5. I love this and was pondering making a list of all my favorite parts and then motherfucking om wiped the list right out of my head. So hilarious and quintessentially you. I am honored to be a big part of your kalelife.

  6. You and your anchovies. I love the idea of massaged kale. Also, after reading your blog for the past year or so, I'm wondering what words might possibly be unprintable. Also, thanks.

    1. ha! yes i do have an anchovy problem. sometimes when i'm driving and someone cuts me off or if i start a fire in the compost bin i've been known to yell out: FUCK ME FUCK ME FUCK ME. somehow up above this felt unprintable. but it feels totally appropriate to write in a comment to you. xoxo

  7. I cannot get enough of cooked kale, but always back away from kale salad. However, I never massaged it, which is probably the problem. Going to half to make these, probably with a poached egg on the top because runny eggs and greens in any form make me want to give up all other foods so I can eat them for every meal.

  8. Ah, Phyllis. I love the om, the motherfucking om, but laid up in bed with stomach flu I just can't get into the anchovies or the garlic. Even the Ryan Seacrest is kinda turning my stomach. But reading your words makes me happy nonetheless.



    1. yucko. agreed. anchovies and garlic and ryan seacrest would totally turn my stomach if i had the flu. i hope you're better now!

  9. absolutely going to try this. always felt like kale needed cooking but massaging = genius. thanks again for the inspiration!

    1. i need to visit your farm! YOU are the inspiration.

  10. Um, wow. Found you via the babble blog best of and man, do you deserve it. I'm in for the om, and will be back for more. Congratulations from a new fan!

  11. This recipe looks delicious. Do you know the nutritional values? If you post it on they will calculate it for you and you can get paid for posting recipes.

  12. So, I read a lot of food blogs, because let's face it, I'm hungry all the time. I love yours because it is real. Because it is touchable. Because it seems like we would be friends. Thank you for that. And, thank you for making me want to eat kale, which is not an easy task.

    1. it's touchable. i love that so much. thank you for your beautiful comment.

  13. please o' please write a goddamn book! i love your blog - as a mom and a cook you get to the heart of me every time. and i eat so much f-ing kale. it's ridiculous. warm olive oil poached dates, garlic-y, lemon dressing, thick lardons of bacon, toasted pumpkin seeds and some massaged lacinato kale. eaten out of a mixing bowl. done. thank you again for sharing your world.

  14. olive oil poached dates? that sounds amazing. thank you for your comment. thinking about a book. dreaming about a book. hopefully someday. xoxo

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  16. I've been looking for a killer kale recipe. Bookmarking now!

  17. is it ok that what i took from this post was not about kale but about anchovies? i just found my way to your blog, and thank you! because of you (and your delightful anchovy-garlic boosting) last night's dinner was israeli couscous dressed with a parsley-anchovy-garlic-lemon pesto, topped with fried halloumi cheese and over easy eggs. carrot salad on the side so that in case family services ever checks up, i totally had a vegetable on the table. thanks for the inspiration.

  18. I've never tried Kale before. This looks really good.

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