Kale: Enjoying Bitter

By Sandy Hu
A new video for Video Friday

As a food professional, I’ve tracked American eating habits over decades and what truly astonishes me is how quickly our food sophistication has ramped up in recent years.

What we consider common ingredients today, such as cumin, fish sauce, salsa, miso, quinoa, hoisin or sriracha, were not on the culinary radar of most Americans in the 70s. We’ve gone from iceberg lettuce to arugula; pre-sliced white bread to rustic loaves.

But the biggest change, I think, is in how we’ve learned to embrace bitter flavors, such as dark chocolate, espresso and hardier greens like kale.

We all know kale is a nutritional powerhouse but few people eat foods dutifully, just because they should. People eat what tastes good to them. So I think Americans are truly starting to like these flavors.

If you are one of the holdouts against bitter, watch today’s video for a kale salad developed by Special Fork food editor and cookbook author Linda Lau Anusasananan. She taught me to massage the kale with the dressing to soften the leaves and to add ingredients like apples, raisins and a sweet-tart dressing to balance the bitter. It’s a great first introduction to this delicious, assertive green.

To get the recipe and shopping list on your smartphone (iPhone, BlackBerry, Android device) or PC, click here.

Lemony Kale Salad with Apple and Nuts
Note: When grating the lemon, use only the outer (yellow) portion of the peel. Avoid the white pith, which is bitter.
Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 pound young laciniato kale (also called dinosaur, Cavolo Nero, Tuscan, or black kale)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
1 small apple, cored and cut in 1/2-inch cubes
1/3 cup dried cranberries or raisins
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts or slivered almonds

  1. Wash the kale, drain well, and pat off excess water with paper towels. Tear the thick center ribs from leaves and discard. Stack a few leaves, roll lengthwise into a cigar shape and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch wide strips. Repeat to make about 16 cups total.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the oil, lemon peel, lemon juice, sugar and salt to taste. Add the kale and with your hands, mix and massage the kale with the dressing until the leaves are completely glossy. You can cover and chill the salad up to 1 hour before continuing.
  3. Add the apple, cranberries, cheese and nuts and toss lightly together.

Recipe by Linda Lau Anusasananan

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Posted: Sep 5th by Sandy_Hu