Do you remember the story of the Emperor with No Clothes?
The Emperor walked around naked and everyone admired his clothing because no one was courageous enough to point out that he was in fact naked… Finally, a child speaks up during a parade and the truth sets everyone free. I used to feel like Kale was the vegetable equivalent of the naked emperor. Everyone loved it, articles appeared every day extolling its benefits. A friend returned from vacation in Turks and Caicos and the headline about her trip was the incredible kale salad at the hotel. Clearly, I was missing something. I tried repeatedly to develop a love for this much discussed wonder green, but I hated it. I was just about to decide that everyone I knew was powerless in the face of kale propaganda, when something amazing happened.
For Christmas this year I gave my husband tickets to see Neil Young at Carnegie Hall. To make it feel like a real date, we went to dinner at Candle Cafe, an amazing Vegan restaurant in Manhattan. We ordered the kale salad, this was my Hail Mary. If Candle Cafe could not make kale taste good, then as far as I was concerned, I would be happy with spinach. The salad was amazing as was everything else we had that evening. I may have even begun the story about that night to a friend with news of the incredible kale salad…(sorry Neil)
A few nights later I decided to try and make it myself. I ordered the Candle Cafe cookbook and used their recipe as a guide but I modified it a bit. I have included my version below, but highly recommend purchasing their cook book.
Kale Salad (inspired by Candle Cafe)
1 cup Buckwheat (we like the Kasha brand)
4 tsp olive oil
2 large japanese yams (these look like purple sweet potatoes)
½ lb sugar snap peas
1 lb kale
2 avocados peeled, pitted, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
Chive Vinaigrette (this is the Candle Cafe recipe almost exactly, and I would drink it if I could)
½ cup plus 1 Tbsp Grapeseed oil
½ cup chopped shallots
2 cloves garlic
¼ white wine vinegar (or rice vinegar)
½ cup warm water
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 cup pomegranate seeds
1 cup sunflower seeds
The key with kale is to remove the stems, and spines so it is just the leaf. Then massage olive oil into the leaves. They don’t need to swim in it, but the olive oil will soften the leaves and remove the bitterness. Bake the yams at 350 for about 75 minutes, this can be done ahead of time. Buckwheat takes about 15 minutes to cook, but again this can be prepared the day before. Steam the snap peas, and place them aside. After you have massaged the olive oil into the kale, very briefly throw the kale into a large pan until the leaves wilt slightly and turn a very dark green. Put the kale, the sliced avocado, yams, snap peas and buckwheat into a large bowl.
For the dressing saute the shallots in one Tbsp of grapeseed oil, add the garlic until they are both soft. I use the hand mixer to make this, but you could use a blender. Transfer the sauteed ingredients to either the blender or bowl for hand mixing and add the other ingredients. Pour the dressing on the salad, add sunflower and pomegranate seeds for garnish.