It’s the New Year! A study done last year suggested that healthy eating was one of the top three resolutions for 2018, and nothing says “healthy eating” quite like kale.
Stay with me here.
Plain raw kale, although palatable for me, is understandably bitter and revolting for a good chunk of people I know. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be eaten that way! As with most vegetables and leafy greens, I find that they always taste better if not exceptional when properly and pleasantly spiced, dressed, and/or cooked.
This past month, I decided to subscribe to a free trail of NYT Cooking, mostly because I wanted some classic cookie recipes for the holidays. In doing so, I started receiving email newsletters every few days, and within these newsletters, the editor (Sam Sifton) provides a recipe minus exact ingredients and super clear instructions. About a week ago, the day after I churned out 10 dozen cookies and a heaping pile of almond bark-dipped pretzels, Sam offered up a kale salad recipe. Seeing as I needed to cut through all that butter and sugar in my gut, I bought the ingredients and gave it a shot.
The results were phenomenal. I’ve made the salad twice now within the last week, and the icing on the cake (maybe a bad metaphor here), without a doubt, is the tahini yogurt dressing. The kale becomes the winning element when coated in the stuff. I also thoroughly enjoy the compliments of cool crunchy cucumber, bright tangy grapefruit, and warm crispy chickpeas. Top that with a handful of fresh herbs, and ding! ding! ding! we have a winner!
This works well as a light meal, but I can definitely see it paired with a pork chop or, better yet, black-eyed peas and ham to ring in the New Year!
Kale, bite-sized pieces
1 grapefruit, sectioned
1/2 cucumber, diced
Fresh herbs, chopped **
1 Lemon (used for juicing)
1/2 can chickpeas, drained
Plain yogurt (I used Greek, but the original recipe called for regular)
**I used basil only—the fresh herb supply was short at the store. However, I think a combination of basil, dill, parsley and maybe even a dash of mint would be stellar.
(Unconventional, Vague) Directions:
First, credit where credit is due—paragraphs two through four. My feelings won’t be hurt if you just stop here and follow Sam’s more succinct “instructions”: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/21/dining/what-to-cook-this-weekend-newsletter.html
For the dressing, you’ll need the yogurt, tahini, lemon, and salt. Since there are no exact measurements, you’ll have to rely heavily on your taste buds to create a tasty concoction. More or less, I used two large dollops of yogurt, two and a half spoons full of tahini, three generous splashes of olive oil, a couple generous squeezes of lemon juice, and probably about 1/8 tsp of salt. My recommendation is to add ingredients one spoonful, splash or squeeze at a time, stir, and taste. You’ll know when it’s just the right combination of savory, tangy and salty. The original recipe said to create a Caesar dressing consistency, but I never made it there due to the Greek yogurt’s extra thick texture. I found this thickness coated the kale leaves well, however.
Chop up your kale, discarding the hard stems if desired. In a large mixing bowl, “massage” plenty of dressing into the kale with your hands until the leaves are well coated. If you’ve ever had the Caesar salad at Lazlo’s, that’s about the dressing-to-greens ratio you want—right at that “Would you like some salad with your dressing?” level.
Set the kale aside to marinate. Heat a small frying pan with a generous swirl of olive oil on the stovetop. Once it’s toasty hot, turn the heat down to medium-low, grab a grease-spatter screen, and toss half a can of chickpeas into the pan. They will sizzle like crazy, so slap that screen on top as quick as you can. Instead of stirring the beans, I occasionally took the pan off the stovetop and tossed them around with the screen held firmly on top—way less mess that way.
While the chickpeas are sizzling, section your grapefruit, dice up half a cucumber, and chop your herbs. By the time all this is done, your chickpeas should be browned and crispy.
Serve the dressed kale in individual bowls and artistically top with grapefruit, cucumber, chickpeas, and herbs. Or, in typical Hannah fashion, toss it all together in the mixing bowl and eat it straight out of there while binge-watching Chef’s Table on Netflix. No one said healthy eating had to be done formally.
Happy New Year, everyone!