Lay Your Hands on Kale

I met my husband through an online dating site, but before I found him (or he found me; we can’t really remember at this point who found who), I had a small handful of dates with some guys who were, to varying degrees, just exactly wrong for me. The wrongest, though, was the guy who suggested we meet for lunch at a local sports bar (wrong!), and who, after we ordered our drinks, laid this one on me:

So, you know all those things you wrote in your profile about how you love the sensual world? Gardening and cooking and tactile pleasures…yeah, I hate all that shit.

Well, okay! Date over.

But he was correct. I do love tactile pleasures. My gardens never bear fruit the way I hope they will, but I am happy with my hands in dirt. I still love to rub the satin edge of my blanket just the way I did when I was a child (instant calm), and some of my favorite meals are the kind you turn over in your hands and pick at with your fingers and tongue: sucking out every last bit of meat from a crab leg or scraping your teeth along the artichoke leaf.

So when, in my learning a bit about our featured food–what some might even call a Superfood— I was delighted to discover a way to prepare it that would both meet all of Sharon’s parameters and let me get a little more…intimate with it.

Recipe #2: Wilted Kale Salad with Ginger Miso Dressing

First, wash, then thoroughly massage your kale with a drop or two of nice sesame oil.

Yes! I said, “massage your kale!” This is what I meant about intimacy! Turns out that rubbing down those tough leaves lovingly with a little massage sesame oil breaks down the cell walls, effectively wilting the kale and seriously decreasing the bitter bite of it so you can eat it raw! 
Basically you rub the leaves together until they soften and take on a beautiful dark green sheen–this can take some minutes, so get comfy, put on some new age music, dim the lights…when you think the kale is fully massaged, taste it. It should not taste bitter. If it still does, get out the hot stones just keep working it.

Then, shred some daikon radish, maybe two inches or so. If you have a fancy slicer, you can use that. I don’t, but a cheese grater got the job done just fine. Regular red radishes, sliced thinly, would also be lovely here.

Give a similar treatment to a large carrot (here I used a veggie peeler to get those long strips), and chop up three scallions. I decided to make this a complete meal by adding some steamed edamame.

Obviously, I was heading toward an Asian flavor profile with these ingredients, so I wanted a dressing that would compliment it. Bring on the miso! Two tablespoons of white miso went into a blender along with a tsp of fresh ginger (I micro-planed mine first for smoothness), two tablespoons rice vinegar, about a 1/4 cup of canola oil (don’t use olive oil for this–the delicate flavor of the miso will be overpowered), and a 1/2 tsp of sesame oil. Salt to taste. (If you like a little more heat, you could add some chili paste. I didn’t but will next time.) Add a little water if it seems too thick. I don’t have a picture of this, but you know what consistency dressing is supposed to be, right?

I also toasted up two tablespoons of sesame seeds. This is easy. Just put them into a dry saute pan over medium heat. Listen for a sizzling or popping sounds. Don’t leave them! Shake the pan around a little so they don’t burn and get even color distribution. Just pull them off the heat when they look toasty and nice.

Isn’t that pretty!

Now I need to tell you: this is not a gentle salad. It’s not a delicate salad filled with light whimsy and summer delight. This is a serious, slightly assertive salad that demands your attention and inspires your commitment. Kale, even after it’s been massaged and wilted, still has a bite, a provocative, toothsome chew. It might fight you a little, but it’ll be a fair fight.

In the end it wholly satisfied both me and my husband, who, it should be said, loves that I love the whole of the sensual world. Hey, worked for us!


Do you have a dumb first date story? Let’s share our WTF moments in the comments! (keep it clean, or at least euphemistic, people.)



5 thoughts on “Lay Your Hands on Kale

  1. Sharon McGill says:

    This looks fabulous! 😀 And with edamame, miso, and ginger–omg, yum. I love this, especially with the addition of daikon, which I often have a hard time incorporating into dishes. I don’t have any date stories–though I did wonder if you walked right out on that jerk in the sports bar. Ew!

    • Sheila Squillante says:

      You know, for the life of me I cannot remember if I walked out or if we simply finished our meals in awkward silence! I do remember thinking, THEN WHY DID YOU CONTACT ME?

      Glad you like the recipe, Sharon! Thanks for starting us off! xo

  2. Charlie says:

    Hypothesis: Failed Date Guy was doing an experiment in which he tried to figure out what are the least romantic and date-appropriate things one can say.

    Seriously, why would you go on a date–at a restaurant–and try to argue against the pleasures of good food–against the pleasures of the sensual world?! If you don’t care about the pleasures of the sensual world, aren’t you opposed to a pretty large portion of the dating world and the romantic relationship itself?

    I love cooking for and with my fiance–feeding the people you love is, I think, one of the greatest pleasures left to us–and I can’t wait to try out this method for preparing kale, one of our favorite foods that we both recently learned how to prepare. It’s in the (rather small) budget, it’s delicious, it’s extremely nutritious, and now I’ve learned that it responds favorably to massage. Superfood indeed.

    Thanks so much for this, Sheila! I thought I knew how to prepare Kale, but you’re adding to the repertoire. Can’t wait for next week’s food (I’m a zucchini lover, too).

    • Sheila Squillante says:

      Yeah,that guys was a puzzle, Charlie. But he makes a good story now! Thanks for stopping by and for the kind words. Happy eating!

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