Making Kale Sexy: Kale Salad with Toasted Coconut & Sesame Oil

Kale. You know kale, that thick, leafy green that all of the spandex-sporting hotties at Whole Foods frantically fill their shopping carts with as though it were the elixir of life. NEWSFLASH! It kinda is. Though its bulbous leaves and overall aggressive nature make it look like it belongs more in the Jurassic period than on your dinner plate, fear not! Kale’s bad rap has dissipated as modern chefs find sexy new ways to use it. Kale’s strong flavor is tempered in this truly fantastic recipe by the delightful and unexpected addition of toasted coconut and sesame oil. A big thanks to Heidi Swanson and her incredible new book, Super Natural Everyday, for being the bearer of such an awesome flavor combination.

In an effort to up the nutritional ante of an already annoying healthy recipe, I recently ventured into the dark recesses of the Whole Foods bulk bins and finally decided to try out some of what I am sure can be voted “worse named food item of all time,” nutritional yeast. Gross? In theory, yes, but in practice, I must digress. I discovered that it actually has quite a delicious flavor profile, salty, cheesy, and savory. I’m hooked! I’m no vegetarian, but seeing as how my consumption of meat has dropped to the occasional (okay, mildly frequent) grass fed “happy” burger, I kept reading of the wonders of nutritional yeast for its unique holding of the elusive and utterly essential Vitamin B-12, whose only natural source are animal products. So vegetarians and vegans, listen up! Nutritional yeast also has 18 amino acids, making it a complete protein, and 15 minerals. Now your kale can be delicious and sexy with an additional nutritional oomph. Amen!

Kale Salad with Toasted Coconut & Sesame Oil
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons shoyu or soy sauce
a bunch of kale, leaves removed from the stems and torn into pieces
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut + extra for serving
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast (optional)
2 cups cooked barley (optional)

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together the oils and shoyu. In a large bowl, toss the kale and kale with about two-thirds of the dressing. Taste, and add more dressing if it suits you.

2.) Spread the kale evenly across two baking sheets and bake until the coconut is nice and golden and the kale is wilted, anywhere from 10-20 minutes. Make sure to stir the kale and swap the position of the trays a few times throughout baking.

3.) Remove kale from oven and toss with the yeast and grains, if using. Excellent served warm or at room temperature.

This recipe was slightly adapted from Super Natural Everyday by Heidi Swanson. Published by Ten Speed Press; 2011.

7 responses to “Making Kale Sexy: Kale Salad with Toasted Coconut & Sesame Oil

  1. A massaged, toasted kale salad! Love the concept! Can’t wait to try it out. :)

    • Have you gotten a chance to try it yet? I’m dreaming about it for lunch right now…

      • It is funny because I was just revisiting this salad. How does the crisp kale work as leftovers? Do you think all that oil is necessary?

      • It definitely losses a bit of crispiness but is still markedly more structured and edible than raw kale! As for the oil, you only end up using two third’s of it (great for dressing other salads) but I think experimenting with less oil could definitely be an option. Though it surprisingly doesn’t feel or taste oily, I’m sure that less would work as well and change the experience a bit.

  2. I was looking for a kale recipe to try since I usually buy it with good intentions and then find it wilted at the back of the fridge. Now I have a reason to try nutritional yeast as well. Thanks.

  3. Pingback: Prix Fixe Menu: Fashion as a First Course | Katharina's Food Adventures

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