Massaged Raw Kale Salad with Apple, Avocado & Feta

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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.

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Massaged Raw Kale Salad

Ingredients:

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

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Preparation:

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.

  Land's End

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.

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End of Splurge – Back to Broccoli and Kale

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We have been eating incessantly over the holidays.  There were boxes of Belgium chocolate and Panettone from Peter’s patients.  There were the dinner parties with extended family and friends.  And this morning, Peter’s mother served us leftover chocolate mousse cake for breakfast.  I must say it felt wonderfully decadent with a cup of coffee in the Southern Californian morning sun.  But the splurge ends today.  It must or else.

In Alexander Dumas’ Dictionary Of Cuisine, he named three sorts of appetites:

1. Appetite that comes from hunger. It makes no fuss over the food that satisfies it. If it is great enough, a piece of raw meat will appease it as easily as a roasted pheasant or woodcock.

2. Appetite aroused, hunger or no hunger, by a succulent dish appearing at the right moment, illustrating the proverb that hunger comes with eating.

3. The third type of appetite is that roused at the end of a meal when, after normal hunger has been satisfied by the main courses, and the guest is truly ready to rise without regret, a delicious dish holds him to the table with a final tempting of his sensuality.

The third type was all we indulged in during the past 10 days.  I declared it over by making the Broccoli Kale White Bean Soup for dinner tonight.  Eating the soup felt like a cleansing ritual after the holiday transgression. 

I used the roasted garlic from a few days ago and made some garlic Parmesan toast with Ciabatta bread.  They made a satisfying meal together with the soup.

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Ingredients:

1 large Onion (chopped)

4 cloves garlic (chopped)

4 heads of Broccoli (florets chopped; stems peeled and chopped)

7 cups Vegetable Stock

1 bunch Kale ( stemmed and cut into 1/2-inch ribbons)

2 15 .5-ounce Canneloni Beans (drained and rinsed)

Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Preparation:

Place a heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and then toss in the garlic, stir for 1 minute, then add onion. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until just translucent. Add the broccoli and again season with salt and pepper.

Pour the vegetable stock over the broccoli and bring up to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the broccoli is fork tender.

Let cool slightly and then transfer, working in batches, to a blender. Cover the blender with a towel to ensure it doesn’t splatter, and puree until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Place another heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the kale. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the beans and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes.

Pour the broccoli soup in kale and stir to combine. Let cook for one to two more minutes to let the flavors meld. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then serve while hot.