There are two types of people in the world: those who love kale, and those who haven’t yet tried this recipe. If you’re already part of the kale mafia, I don’t need to convince you about its deliciousness. This recipe is my secret weapon to get even the most stalwart nonbelievers to come to the green side.
Even though this is a meatless dish, I call it the "Bacon of Kale salads" because it is to vegetarians what bacon is to meat-eaters—savory, addictive, and arguably able to be added to every meal. Unlike real bacon, this dish is guilt-free, actually healthy when ingested in vast quantities, and much less greasy.
The Bacon of Kale Salads (Bacon Not Included)
Serves 2 to 3 normal people (or 1 hungry yogi)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
- 2 bunches Lacinto kale (also called "Tuscan" or "Dinosaur" kale)
- 1-2 lemons
- 3-6 cloves of garlic
- Half cup of pumpkin seeds
- 1 large white onion
- Olive Oil
- Balsamic vinegar
- Half tsp sea salt
- Half tsp pepper
1. Marinate those onions.
Half the onion, cut each piece into thin slices, and then separate the layers. Peel and crush the garlic into a bowl, and combine with salt and pepper. Use a mortar and pestle to create a paste, if you’re into that type of thing, or just muddle strongly with the bottom of a spoon.
Throw the onion into the mix, douse with a healthy amount of olive oil and balsamic (enough to grease everything up nicely), and then shove everything into a jar. Shake heartily and then put off to the side.
2. Massage that kale!
Wash your hands and roll up those sleeves. Massaging kale breaks down the fibrous cellulose in the leaves, softens the texture, and removes the bitterness most people dislike about kale. You’ll want to strip the stems from the leaves first. I’ve prepared a short video to help illustrate how to easily do this. Once that’s done, throw all the leaves in a bowl. Squeeze one lemon directly onto the kale, taking care to remove all pits that may fall in.
Using both hands, massage that kale. You can take handfuls and just squeeze away. Some like to rub the kale together, others roll the individual pieces between the fingers. Get creative.
After a few minutes, taste your work. There should be an obvious lemony flavor, but if the leaves are still bitter, you can add more a touch more lemon juice and continue massaging. The kale will reduce in size by at least half, become darker, and smooth to the touch. Once desired consistency is achieved, stop.
3. Roast those pumpkin seeds.
Get a pan. Heat it up. Throw in a quarter-sized scoop of coconut oil (or preferred frying oil) and coat surface. Toss in seeds, lower heat, and wait. Stirring occasionally at first, pick up the pace as things start to pop and brown. Once the seeds turn golden, remove the pan from the heat and let cool.
4. Toss that salad.
Add the marinated onions into the kale bowl, along with the cooled pumpkin seeds. You can massage everything together with your (clean) hands, or just use boring old tongs. At this point, add more salt, pepper, oil, or lemon until you find that perfect flavor.
5. Serve and enjoy.
On the rare occasions you don’t eat every last bite, this salad only gets better with age. The citric acid and salt continue to break down the leaves over time, creating a savory juice. Mix leftovers with fresh lettuce and other vegetables the next day for a savory kale bonus round.
How do you eat your kale? Share in the comments below!