Simple Kale Salad

by elleryturner

Do you remember that scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory when Violet Beauregarde eats the three-course-meal bubblegum and blows up into a blueberry so large the Oompa Loompas have to roll her away?  I do.  Mainly because after fully indulging in all things food that the holidays have to offer, that is exactly how I feel. 

If any of you out there are sharing my sluggish, sleepy, 3-pounds-heavier misery, let me introduce you to my favorite “detox” food…kale!  I know you were probably hoping for something a little more exciting, but I really do love kale.  It is so dark green and ruffage-y (a word?), you can’t help but feel like you’re doing your body a huge favor by eating it.  Not to mention, you really are doing your body a huge favor.  Kale is overflowing with vitamins K, A, and C, has tons of antioxidants, is chock-full of fiber, and will help lower your cholesterol.  And did I say kale is cheap?  Because it is.  Really, really cheap – it sells for .99 per pound at my local Harris Teeter and comes in loose leaves so you can buy as much or as little as you need.  

This recipe is a wonderful introduction to kale, but don’t let its simplicity turn you off – extra veggies can always be added if you feel you need to bulk it up to serve as a meal.  Fresh tomatoes, roasted beets, or sliced cucumbers would all be great additions. 

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 lemon

3 large kale leaves (washed and torn into bite-sized pieces)

1 tablespoon parmesan cheese

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Step 1: Wash your kale.  Kale can be very dirty and I think the best way to clean it is to fill a mixing bowl with cold water, tear the kale into bite-sized pieces and place pieces of kale into the water.  Swish the kale around and the grit and sand will fall to the bottom of the bowl.  Scoop the kale pieces out onto a paper towel and pat dry.

Step 2: Pour the olive oil and lemon juice over the kale and use your hands to coat each piece.  Because kale is typically extra crunchy, the lemon juice will help break it down and soften it slightly.  I like to let the kale sit in the lemon juice and olive oil mixture for about 5 minutes to allow the leaves to soften.  Letting it sit longer certainly won’t do any harm.

Step 3:  Add the parmesan and cayenne pepper (use less or more depending on your tastes), and enjoy!

I can’t think of a better way to get a jump on your New Year’s resolutions of getting in shape and saving money than to incorporate kale into your 2012 diet. 

At the very least, eating more of it will save you the cost of hiring those Oompa Loompas to roll you around all year.