Years ago, when I wrote The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, I said this about kale: "Kale is definitely a superstar vegetable, even though most people don't know what it is." But since then, kale has exploded in popularity.
And with good reason. Kale has one of the highest antioxidant rankings of any vegetable, but because it's a cabbage, it has even more benefits. Like all members of the brassica family, kale contains powerful phytochemicals such as indoles, plant compounds that have been found to have a protective effect against breast, cervical, and colon cancers. Kale is also packed with sulfur and sulforaphane, which give the body's detoxification enzymes a boost and may help fight cancer, as well. And as if that weren't enough, the über-popular veggie boasts plenty of vitamins A, C, and K, too.
In this terrific Mediterranean- inspired salad, Chef Jeannette swaps out standard greens for fresh kale. The rest of this salad hits all the high spots of the famous Mediterranean diet: garlic, onions, olives, feta cheese, and vegetables. What's not to like?
Greek Kale Salad
This salad has a bright, fresh taste-something that can be a challenge to accomplish when using raw kale. You can almost feel yourself getting lighter and healthier with every bite.
4 cups (about 2 bunches) stemmed and shredded lacinato kale (also called dinosaur kale)
Juice of 1 lemon, divided
1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried oregano
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
5 Tbs. olive oil
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 large red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 small cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 cup grape tomatoes
2/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives
2/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- Place kale into medium bowl, and drizzle with 2 tsp. lemon juice and a very light sprinkle of salt. Firmly and thoroughly massage kale with hands, at least 2 minutes, to soften and break up tough fibers. Set aside.
- In small bowl, whisk together remaining lemon juice, red wine vinegar, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper. Gradually whisk in thin stream of olive oil until just emulsified. Set aside.
- Place kale in large salad bowl, and top with onions, peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, and olives. Scatter feta evenly over salad, and drizzle with dressing.
per serving: 341 cal; 8g pro; 28g total fat (7g sat fat); 17g carb; 22mg chol; 637mg sod; 4g fiber; 5g sugars
Notes from: Chef Jeannette
The easiest way to shred kale is to cut it in a chiffonade. If the leaves are young and tender, you can simply remove the tough lower ends of the stems and stack the leaves on top of one another. Roll them up together like a thick cigar and slice them very thinly into ribbons with a sharp chef's knife. If your kale is a bit more mature, slice or pull the leaves off of the stems before stacking and rolling them. Keep the stems for another use, such as making vegetable broth, slicing thinly for a stir-fry, or running through a juicer.