Put some music on, pour yourself a big glass of wine, grab the oil, and get ready to give your fingers a workout…Now, now, get your mind out of the gutter, and don’t forget to reach for the kale.
A sentence with the words “massage” and “kale” sounds a bit strange, doesn’t it? Why would one need to give a vegetable a massage? Simply put, it makes all the difference. Kale, as you already know, is a thick, tough and fibrous leafy green; If you take fresh pieces of kale and toss them into whatever it is that you’re cooking, kale will take a very, very long time to soften and wilt. And if the kale is going to be a part of a raw salad, well you’ll have tough and slightly bitter kale to chew. It’s not really a knock on kale, I quite enjoy it both raw and cooked. But often times it is my jaw that gets sore from chewing and chewing on raw or undercooked kale. This is when giving kale a rubdown really helps.
When we massage kale it helps break down the toughness and it release a sweetness in the leaves. The process is quite simple and doesn’t take more than a few minutes. All you do is use your fingers to work the kale bits until you have softer, shinier, tender and sweet pieces of kale. You’ll notice that the kale is reduced in volume and it’s colour intensify. Take a taste and immediately you’ll notice how much easier it is to chew, the softness, and the missing tartness that kale usually has. Many people like to drizzle a bit of oil over the kale before commencing the rubdown, but it really depends how you’ll be using the kale. If you’re going to be using it in a smoothie, I really recommend the massage without the oil. When tossing the kale into salads, soups, stews, or lightly sautéed with garlic, then it’s perfectly fine to use oil.
Kale is so insanely nutritious and lately we’ve been really enjoying it both lightly sautéed as a side dish, and as part of refreshing summer salads. The photos here are of my current favourite summer kale salad, and the recipe is one that I published on my Spicy Food column; it is simply titled “Massaged Kale Salad with Strawberries and Red Pepper.” Head over to get the recipe, thank you and enjoy!