I've never understood the fascination with kale.
I mean, I know it's healthy and that hipsters love it but doesn't anyone care about taste anymore? I'd tried kale twice before this recipe: the first time I was violently hungover and thought a green smoothie would help. The second time I was violently hungover and thought a green smoothie would help. Both times I was wrong. The distinct earthy, grassy flavour did NOT cure my hangover but I suppose it did take the focus off my pounding head and put it on my newly nauseated stomach so it wasn't a total bust. And since then every time that someone has mentioned kale I give a horrified, melodramatic "BLERGH!!" that would make even my seven year old daughter jealous of how enthusiastically I can portray my hatred for a green vegetable. That was until my sister-in-law introduced me to this salad.
I think the biggest yay factor is that the kale is first gently sauteed before being combined with the other ingredients, which is akin to massaging the kale that a lot of other recipes recommend. Why on earth would I waste time massaging my salad? If anyone should be getting a massage it's me, dammit. The frying process takes a lot of the bitterness away and makes it much more palatable, and with the addition of crunchy roasted almonds, salty feta and plump, juicy raisins all dressed in a garlic vinaigrette it's definitely a winner.
Kale (in spite of it's usually grassy flavour...) is a bit of a nutritional powerhouse. It's known throughout the world by various names - tuscan cabbage, cavalo nero, lacinato kale - and is a cruciferous vegetable in the same family as cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower. One cup of kale provides around 30 calories and lots of vitamin A, C and K. Almonds are rich in calcium and unsaturated fatty acids and quinoa is a complete protein, meaning it contains all the amino acids our body needs but can't produce on it's own (which is uncommon for plant-based protein sources).
If you're a kale-skeptic then this salad is a really good place to start, the lightly wilted greens are a good introduction to the world of kale but it has enough added extras to not overload you with it's distinctive flavour. And if it can pull me back from the brink of full-blown kale hate I think it can turn anyone. Just don't pop your kale cherry by using it in a smoothie - it won't end well.
Kale, Quinoa and Almond Salad
1 bunch kale
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/3 cup raisins
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of half a lemon
1/2 cup almonds, toasted and roughly chopped
1&1/2 cups cooked quinoa
100g reduced fat feta
Salt and pepper
1) Finely slice or shred the kale leaves (you can include some of the stalks or discard them). If you want to you can scrunch them up in your hands a few times to start breaking them down.
2) Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large fry pan over low heat. Gently fry the shredded kale until it turns bright green and starts to wilt. Set aside.
3) Heat remaining oil in the same pan over low heat. Add chopped garlic and cook without browning for 2-3 minutes. Add raisins to pan and stir for 30 seconds.
4) Add lemon juice and zest to pan, then add the kale leaves plus salt and pepper to taste. Stir to thoroughly combine the dressing with the leaves. Set aside to cool.
5) Once the leaves have cooled to room temperature gently stir through the almonds, quinoa and feta. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
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