Shredded kale as a summer salad hit my radar a couple of weeks ago dining out at The Fish Shop in trendy Potts Point. Served as an accompaniment to a plate of scallop and corn fritters, it took me completely by surprise. Sweet, silky and deliciously addictive. Not even the merest hint of the biting bitterness so often associated with sturdy greens.
I’m no stranger to this popular superfood, I often add it to hearty winter minestrones or crisp it in the oven in pursuit of fashionable kale chips. But… I can’t remember ever using it raw. Perhaps because I’ve long considered it to be rather grassy and fibrous, favouring tender radicchio for my bitter greens salads. Happily, I’ve now discovered something new.
It seems the secret to transforming those verdant sturdy leaves into something moreishly delicious is really rather simple. All that is required is to strip them from their ribs and fibrous stalks, before shredding and tossing into a very large bowl with a little olive oil, salt, lemon and the preferred flavouring du jour (at present I have developed a penchant for garlic and maybe chilli). Then the fun begins; squeeze, pummel, rub or massage those shreds into submission with clean finger tips. The aim is to break down the cell structure of the kale just a little to tenderise the leaves and remove the bitterness. Before too long the volume of kale in the bowl will decrease and the leaves will become soft, sweet and shiny. It only takes a few minutes to produce the perfect mainstay for a very tasty salad. For added interest I’ve been pairing my leaves with finely shaved fennel and radish, a smattering of pine nuts and grating of parmesan. As always, there are no hard and fast rules, add whatever is in season and takes your fancy.
With a family full of
picky eaters discerning palates, who would have dreamed this Tuscan Style Shredded Kale, Fennel and Radish Salad would fast become a popular, much requested fixture in our household dinner rotation. Happily, not only is it incredibly easy to prepare, it’s also very, very good for you. And… at only 162 calories for a massive (deceptively satisfying) plateful, effortlessly qualifies as a 5-2 fast day meal idea.
Tuscan Style Shredded Kale, Fennel And Radish Salad
Serves 4 (162 calories per generously packed 2 cup serve)
1 large bunch kale, rinsed and dried, ribs removed, leaves thinly sliced crosswise (about 500g shredded weight) (250 calories)
finely grated zest and freshly squeezed juice of one lemon (12 calories)
1 garlic clove, grated (4 calories)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (240 calories)
1 baby fennel bulb (33 calories)
5 red radishes (5 calories)
1 tablespoons pine nuts (58 calories)
2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan (44 calories)
sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
PLACE thinly sliced kale in a very large bowl and toss with olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and zest and a generous pinch of sea salt. Massage with your fingertips for two or three minutes until kale is shiny and well-coated. The leaves should be a little darker in colour and volume decreased by a third. Set aside for fifteen minutes.
MEANWHILE lightly toast pine nuts in a hot heavy based pan. Set aside to cool. Using a mandolin or very sharp knife very finely slice or shave fennel bulb and radishes. Reserve fennel fronds for garnish.
ADD fennel, radish and pine nuts to kale mixture. Toss well to combine. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
TRANSFER salad to a serving platter, scatter over freshly grated parmesan and picked fennel fronds.