Last summer I was having dinner with a friend on the Upper East Side of Manhattan when she confided earnestly that she was trying to love kale. When I stopped laughing (it was so Upper East Side …) I offered to help her out with that. The next time I went down for dinner some of the “Kale Salad with Citrus Sesame Dressing” from the Village Market & Bakery in Gardiner made the journey to the city with me. When I reported the results (huge success) to John Reilly and Karen Schneck, owners of the Market, John said, “And not only did she love kale, she loved raw kale.”
OK, John and Karen are entitled to some bragging rights here, because their kale salad, which they’ve been making for about a year now, is extraordinary.
“When the Wednesday food section of the New York Times started to indicate that people were showing an interest in kale we started playing around with kale salads,” John said. Initially, they blanched the kale first because, really, nobody likes raw kale. In a very short time though they realized that raw was better. It tasted better. It looked better. It’s better for you. They do soak it overnight in cold water to soften it though, and all the thick ribs are removed.
Once they add the luscious dressing—organic sesame oil, citron juice, Thai Mae Ploy sweet red chili sauce (also sold at the Market) and toasted sesame seeds, among other ingredients—this pile of raw greenery turns into something truly wonderful. “We are refilling the platter two or three times a day,” John says.
Life is not usually fair, so it’s rare to find something that tastes this good that is also good for you, but kale is packed with health-promoting sulfur compounds, has the greatest antioxidant capacity of all fruits and vegetables, is an excellent source of vitamins K, A and C, is a very good source of dietary fiber, calcium, iron and potassium and is very low in calories.
A one-quart container of kale salad at the Village Market (approximately four servings as a side dish) costs around $5 or $6. Give it a try!