No one would ever describe me as trendy.
I rarely look good in fashionable clothes and can’t figure out how to wear any new style of makeup.
Even when it comes to food, I’m often behind the times.
So, it’s no surprise I’m falling for kale just as it’s falling out of popular favour.
Kale became a culinary darling a few years ago, starting with an obsession for kale chips that spread like wildfire on food blogs. The simple recipe of tossing ripped leaves with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, then baking them to a crisp, spawned thousands of blog posts. Hailed as the ultimate snack, food blogs were filled with increasingly creative versions.
There was something about them popping up everywhere that made me specifically not want to try kale chips and, as a consequence of not really knowing what else to do with the cruciferous vegetable, not bothering to try kale at all.
And then I was served a kale salad at a potluck.
The greens were dressed with a vinaigrette spiked with grainy mustard and sprinkled with paper-thin radishes. I asked for seconds.
Turns out, my disinterest in following a trend had meant I had been missing out.
Since then, I’ve started making my own versions of that salad — adding apple for some sweetness and hazelnuts for crunch — taking advantage of the fact it pays to work ahead with kale. Dressing it in advance, unlike other salads, actually improves the salad, as the vinaigrette helps soften the otherwise tough leaves. The dark green vegetable stands up to the dressing so well, it makes for a great work lunch because there’s no need to keep the salad and the dressing separate.
A nutritional powerhouse, full of beta carotene and calcium, as well as vitamins K and C, kale should transcend trends.
But, of course, like anything that becomes a widespread hit, there is bound to a point in time when people begin tiring of it and want to move on to the next hot ingredient.
As 2014 marches on, some in the food community are starting to declare kale has reached a saturation point on restaurant menus and in recipes. It’s time for that trend to move along, they say.
I’m not against the idea of another ingredient getting some time in the spotlight.
But, luckily, since I never really pay attention to trends, that means kale will be on my menu for a long time to come.
Kale Salad with Hazelnuts and Apple
Like all salads, this one is infinitely adaptable. Swap out different nuts, replace the apple with dried cranberries or cherries or add thin slices of radish for a peppery punch.
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon juice
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp (5 mL) grainy mustard
- 2 tsp (10 mL) honey
- 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
- 1/4 tsp (1 mL) freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) olive oil
- 2 bunches kale, cored and roughly chopped
- 1 crisp apple, julienned
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
In a jar or bowl, shake or mix together the first seven dressing ingredients — from the lemon zest to the pepper — to dissolve the salt and honey. Add the olive oil and shake or mix again until the dressing has emulsified.
Add the chopped kale to a large bowl, pour over the dressing and toss well. Refrigerate for at least an hour to let the dressing soften the leaves. When ready to serve, add the apple, hazelnuts and green onions, tossing everything together.
Serves 4 to 6.