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.