Kale Slaw with Cherry Tomatoes

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

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Ever since making the dinosaur kale and radish salad, I was left intrigued and dissatisfied. I was intrigued because I like the taste of kale, it belongs to the cabbage family and I'm familiar with various ways of preparing cabbage, and because kale has many great nutritional qualities (it is rich in vitamins and has anti-cancerous properties). I like it much better than lettuce, because let's admit it, lettuce is a tasteless, bland salad filler. A salad containing lettuce is centered around other ingredients. Kale on the other hand is much more flavorful, and can stand on its own in a salad. But I was dissatisfied because kale is tough to chew on. Even the dinosaur kale, which is considered more tender than other kale, was quite an exercise in mastication.

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I therefore decided to borrow my mom's cabbage salad recipe (in which cabbage is tenderized with salt to make it softer and more palatable) and apply it to kale. I sliced kale in long shreds as one would cabbage for a coleslaw, and tenderized it with salt. I added sugar to cut the bitterness. I then marinaded the kale in lemon juice for one hour to soften it further.

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Right before serving, I added cherry tomato halves (I used orange cherry tomatoes which are more tangy and sweet, complementing the lemon flavor), and young radish sprouts. The radish sprouts taste sharply just like the radish root, providing an interesting taste contrast, but you can use alfalfa or other less strong-tasting sprouts. With time to marinade, the toughness of the kale all but disappeared, as did the bitterness. The salad became a tender, savory combination of citrus taste of the lemon, sweetness of the tomatoes, slight sharpness of the radish sprouts, together with a gentle reminder that one was still eating kale.

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Kale Slaw with Cherry Tomatoes
(Serves 4)

You will need:
3 cups fresh kale, bottom stems removed, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
2 medium carrots, grated
2 scallions, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 1/2 lemon)
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 1/2 tbsp green sprouts (such as radish sprouts)
Black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Place sliced kale in a large bowl and add salt and sugar. With your hands, in a swift motion begin mixing the salt and sugar into the kale, squeezing the kale as you do so. Continue squeezing the kale a few more times, until it is fairly moist with its own juices and reduced in volume by about half. Add grated carrots, scallions, and lemon juice, and toss well. Mix in the olive oil. Cover and let stand refrigerated for one hour. Just before serving, mix in cherry tomatoes, sprouts, and black pepper.

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