This morning, I went on one of my favorite hiking trails — Land’s End — with two old friends. No matter how many times I walk there, I’m blown away every time by its amazingly rugged beauty. The three of us — all mothers who have families to cook for — talked about food while we walked, which is much healthier than the other way around — talking about walking while pigging out. My friend Jane told me about a kale salad that she loves. It sounded so easy and delicious that I decided to give it a try as soon as I got home.
Jane uses feta cheese, dried cranberries and honey roasted almond slivers. I changed the recipe using what I have in the fridge and the pantry: avocado, apple and chopped almonds. It turned out to be very delicious. The sweet Fuji apple complemented the hint of bitterness in raw kale beautifully. Avocado gave it creaminess while chopped almonds gave it crunchiness. And I found the combination of lemon and feta so simple and special that it is magical.
Massaged Raw Kale Salad
2 bunches lacinato kale, ribs removed and discarded (12 oz total without ribs)
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt or to taste
2 tbsp freshly squeeze lemon juice (from 1 large lemon)
1/2 cup reduced fat feta cheese (crumbled)
1 medium Fuji apple (cored and diced)
1 avocado (diced)
1/4 cup chopped dry roasted almonds
Slice the kale into 1/4-inch thin ribbons. In a large bowl combine the kale with oil and salt. Using your hands, massage the kale for 3 minutes until the kale softens.
Coat diced apple and avocado with lemon juice to prevent yellowing.
Toss kale with the lemon juice, then add apple, avocado and feta cheese. Sprinkle chopped almonds before serving. The recipe makes 4 meal size servings.
I made the salad minus the chopped almonds in the afternoon and let it sit in the fridge cover for a two hours. By dinner time, it actually tasted better. Kale is such a hearty vegetable that the salad doesn’t get soggy. I have always liked kale, but today was the first time I tried it raw. It was a great variation in preparing this super food.
When the children were little, they were fascinated by the stories of the ship wrecks that happened in the treacherous waters between Land’s End and the Marin Headlands. As they looked into the depth of the water they conjured up images of underwater treasures along with skeletons. Many of our walks together was ship wreck themed. One of the ships that sank was called SS City of Rio de Janeiro that had sailed from Hong Kong to San Francisco. The story was that launching of the lifeboats was difficult because the officers were English speaking Americans, while the seamen were non-English-speaking Chinese. Most of the people on the ship perished.
“They died because they were not bilingual,” I told the girls, trying to stress the importance for them to learn Chinese. But it didn’t work. With their brows raised, the girls asked, “So — not being bilingual equals death in a ship wreck — is that what you are trying to say? Do you even hear how ridiculous you sound?” I was a typical Chinese mother trying to teach her American children.