I like this recipe because it's a modest little thing: You can't tell from looking at it how damned tasty it is. Served up at the table, it looks like a giant bowl of greens, and you expect it to have the grassy funk of an overly healthful salad (what my roommate so enticingly calls "fart in a cup"). But all those invisible ingredients--the shake of wasabi powder, the gurgle of rice vinegar, the snippets of seaweed--combine to make one pungent, flavorful salad. Therefore, unlike most green salads, this dish doesn't play well with others. Try serving it as a palate cleanser after your appetizers while you're futzing in the kitchen to get the entree on the table. Or toss with a slice of grilled salmon for a lunch that's worth powering through your morning emails.
The ingredients list below is pretty rough, so feel free to toss in shredded carrots, fried tofu, scallions, ramen noodles--whatever sounds good to you.
Makes 8 servings
1 head of kale, washed with leaves torn from stems, and roughly chopped (or use one of those pre-washed bags you get at the grocery store. You'll need about 8 ounces.)
1/4 cup of neutral oil (I used grapeseed)
1 teaspoon salt
2 Persian cucumbers (or 1 English hothouse cucumber)
1 cup frozen edamame
1 Hass avocado
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 sheets of nori seaweed
2 teaspoons wasabi powder
Access to hot water from the tap
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon ground ginger (or two tablespoons of chopped pickled ginger)
Sugar or agave nectar to taste (I used 1 teaspoon of agave)
1/2 bag of romaine lettuce
Notes for the Naked
- Kale is too fibrous to eat raw, but cooking it causes you to lose some nutrients. "Massaging" the kale makes it palatable raw (and is also kind of fun.)
- If you're not going to serve this right away, toss the avocado with lemon juice so it doesn't turn brown. You can stick it in a plastic bag or tupperware if you don't want it to mush into the salad.
- Fresh spices taste vastly different from old ones that have been sitting around for 1+ years. If you're working with old spices, add more. (Better yet, get new ones...but who remembers to do that.) Also, this dressing is pretty flexible and hard to mess up. Adjust it until you like the way it tastes.
1. "Massage" the kale: Put the kale in a big bowl. Add the neutral oil and salt. Use your hands to squeeze and mash the kale for 2 to 3 minutes until it looks soft and shiny.
2. Prepare the add-in veggies: Cut up your cucumber and avocado. Defrost your edamame. (I just put them in a glass with hot water from the tap, let them sit for a few minutes, and then drain.) Toss them in with the kale and add the sesame seeds.
3. Toast and cut up the nori: Turn on your stovetop to medium-high. Hold one nori sheet with your fingers and pass it over the flame. It should turn golden greenish brown. Repeat until the hold sheet is toasted, and then repeat with the second sheet. Use a pair of scissors to snip up the nori into tiny shreds.4. Mix up the dressing: Spoon the wasabi powder into a cup or bowl. Add a tiny bit of hot water to the tap and mix until you have a paste. Add the sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, ground ginger, and sugar/agave nectar. Taste and adjust until you find it appealing.
5. Toss everything together: Add the dressing to the salad. Before serving, toss with romaine for some crunch. Add the avocado if you've left it on the side for storage.