We all know May is one of the busiest months of the year, perhaps the busiest. I’m completely guilty of defaulting to sandwich mode when I look at my schedule and see how packed it can be with end-of-school-year chaos and spring social events, not to mention transition to summer schedules.
This May, though, I’m taking a different approach. Instead of standing in line at the deli waiting for yet another pound of turkey, or schlepping home with one more bag of Orange Chicken from Trader Joe’s freezer, I’m serving up some salads that make dinner quick and leave leftovers for lunch the next day. Add a roasted chicken (cooked at home earlier and served cold, or purchased at your favorite market or take away place), a little fresh fruit and voila! A healthy, delicious dinner in less than 30 minutes.
One of my favorite resources for these types of meals is Martha Stewart’s Great Food Fast. A foodie friend shared this cookbook with me a few years back, and come May, it’s my go-to. Today’s recipe is an adaptation of a broccoli salad I discovered here and make often – so often, in fact, that I’m S.I.C.K. of eating it and have begun substituting kale instead.
Kale is one of those super foods we often read about, but generally avoid based on having had it poorly prepared. Treated incorrectly, raw kale can be bitter, chewy and completely unpalatable. (I know this firsthand from an initial failed attempt: my children still lament what an evil, despotic parent I am, having forced them to choke down a serving of the stuff before I realized how awful it was. No wonder my youngest started rehearsing her hairball gag/cough routine when she discovered me prepping a bowl full for this post!)
Prepared correctly, though, these curly, cruciferous greens offer a welcome change to the standard lettuces that live in my fridge. The secret, as with most foods that can be tough or bitter, is tenderizing. I don’t remember where I discovered the tip, but massaging the kale leaves as part of the prep makes all the difference. Sounds crazy, yes, but it works. Try it, and you’ll see!
- ¾ – 1 pound kale
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 1 15 oz. can chickpeas
- 1 small Vidalia or other sweet onion
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons best quality olive oil, plus extra for prepping kale
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- sea salt and fresh ground pepper
- Wash and dry kale and tomatoes. Drain and rinse chickpeas.
- Remove stems (which are bitter) from kale and chop or tear leaves into small, bite-sized pieces.
- Place kale in salad bowl and drizzle with a teaspoon or so of olive oil.
- Tenderize the kale for a minute or two with your hands, tossing and squeezing the leaves until they soften slightly and turn a deeper green.
- Chop ⅓ to ½ of the onion, medium dice, and add to kale. (Use more or less. Your preference.)
- Halve tomatoes and add to kale, along with chickpeas.
- Whisk mustard, oil and vinegar and pour over salad. Toss well and season to taste with salt and fresh ground pepper.
Bonus: where mixed baby greens wilt to slime after sitting in dressing, kale just gets better. This salad – or the original version with broccoli – is good day 2, another reason to add to your weekly menu this time of year.
For more info on the nutritional benefits of kale, visit www.webmd.com.