I’ve been on the road a lot lately doing signings and demos for KEEPERS and not only is it a great chance to see the country from Austin to Calistoga and St. Paul to Brentwood, but I also love the opportunity to get first hand feedback regarding the dishes we make from the book. One of the recipes that we’ve been called on frequently to prepare is a kale salad with pomegranate, toasted pumpkin seeds, and balsamic vinegar. I’m not too surprised that this is one of the dishes that stores and cooking schools request that we make–kale remains a darling and a curiosity. Either people want more ideas on how to make the super-green or they want one great idea that will convince them to eat it at all.
I think this recipe is what they’re both looking for.Â The “trick” for making the raw kale more palatable and digestible is to massage it, a technique that I first read about HERE. By rubbing the kale leaves (in our recipe, with a combination of salt and olive oil), the stiff roughage starts to mellow and soften, going from chewy to silky. You can use any variety of kale, as long as you remove the leaves from the stalk, which are too tough to use.
Next you add pumpkin seeds that are lightly toasted in skillet. If you have pumpkin seeds from a recent carving project you can use them, but you have to first remove the kernel from the seed (perhaps it’s easier to buy them already shelled, I buy them in large bags and keep them in the freezer).
Lastly are the pomegranate seeds, which add a tart brightness to the crunch and chew of the pumpkin seeds and kale. Our method for removing the seeds–aka “spanking the pomegranate”–seems to be a crowd-pleaser (we’ve even called up audience members to do the spanking for us): Basically you cut the pomegranate in half horizontally, hold one half over a bowl, cut-side down, and whack the snot out of it with a sturdy spoon, causing the little seeds to dislodge and tumble into the bowl. I like to do this part right over the salad bowl, with the kale and pumpkin seeds already in there, so I don’t have to dirty another bowl, and the pomegranate juices mingle with the salad.
The last ingredient is a simple one: a drizzle of balsamic vinegar (the good stuff if you’ve got it). Toss all together and you have a perfect side dish for dinner, or a stand-alone meal for lunch or the vegetarian/vegan in your life.
I also think it will convert even the most skeptic non-kale eater…
or you can just skip them and keep the salad for yourself.