Saturday, October 22, 2011

Do Your Salads Deserve a Massage?

The sun finally broke through the clouds for the first time in what seems like forever!

Unfortunately, it first began to peek through while Matthew was taking an unusually long afternoon snooze. Normally, if we wake him up from one of his naps, he is an angry, disgruntled beast for the remainder of the day. But I could not wait any longer! I needed to get outdoors while that sun was still around. Paul and I grabbed our sleeping bundle of joy from his crib and bundled him up (the sun may be out, but it was pretty darn cold) and headed over to the park. Matthew voiced his displeasure during the entire car ride, complete with a couple piercing screams that more than likely broke a window somewhere. However, as soon as we parked and he realized where we were, he must have suddenly felt quite foolish because he let out a sheepish little giggle of glee and batted his eyelashes at me.

We set him loose and he instantly went running through the grass, kicking at the leaves. He has been loving the piles of fallen leaves that have been popping up at an alarming rate recently. He loves it when I gather up a bunch of leaves in my arms and then throw them up in the air, letting them fall gently all about him.

Matthew has absolutely no fear when it comes to climbing all the play structures, although he really should. His balance and coordination are still very much a work in progress and he has to be watched VERY closely for fear that he might just bounce off the top and break his little arm. While Paul and I know his limitations, Matthew is completely unaware of his handicaps (such as...I don't know...only being 36 inches tall). He even demanded me to help him with the monkey bars (no way, dude). It probably did not help that Paul and I were taking turns hanging upside down, bouncing around the balance beam, and sliding down the poles.

I am really going to miss taking him to the park once the winter comes. It's a great way for him to burn off all that baby energy that normally goes into raiding my kitchen cabinets. I found my blender full of cheerios when I went to make a vinaigrette this evening. I think discoveries like that might become more frequent once the snow converts us into complete shut-ins.

Although a chilly day at the park might call for a piping hot bowl of soup, I had a huge bunch of kale from my trip to the farmer's market that needed to be used up. In the past, I have always used kale for my lunches, convinced that Paul would turn his nose up at yet another vegetable. However, he would just have to deal with it tonight if he did in fact want to eat something besides PB&J (although I did not even give him that option because, knowing him, he just might have gone for it!).

When Paul watched me prepare this salad, he was simultaneously jealous and disturbed by the fact that I gently massaged the kale between my fingers with some kosher salt. Paul's jealousy is rooted in his deep, constant desire for me to give him neck massages and back rubs. When we were engaged and I was still all goo-goo eyes and in the midst of the whole "my fiance/boyfriend is the most wonderful person on the face of this earth" phase, I mentioned to him that once we were married I would gladly provide him with a back rub whenever he wants. This little comment may or may not have been the actual reason he tied the knot with me. Needless to say, things have not exactly gone the way he envisioned. I do not massage his back all that often, much to his extreme disappointment. Yet, I will gently, methodically, and carefully (with no questions asked), rub a strange bunch of kale that happened to find its way into our fridge.


The reason for the massage is that kale is an extremely tough green that requires a little extra TLC in order to tenderize it enough to be palatable. Once you begin to rub the salt into the greens, they will begin to wilt slightly and turn a deeper shade of green. Once their texture has been softened to a satisfactory level, the greens can be toss with a variety of goodies and a simple vinaigrette, producing a very filling and satisfying main dish. Kale, in addition to being absolutely delicious, is also an excellent source of beta carotene, vitamin C, calcium, and iron. In other words, you can have two pieces of pie after you eat your kale!

At least that's what I told my husband.

Although I really did not have to try so hard. He loved this salad!

Go massage some kale today! All the cool kids are.

Massaged Kale Salad
inspired by Mels Kitchen Cafe

For salad:
1 bunch kale, tough stems removed and leaves sliced into ribbons
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 large apples, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup roasted sunflower seeds
1/3-1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

For the vinaigrette:
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon Dijon or Creole mustard

Whisk together all vinaigrette ingredients. Set aside.

Place kale in a large bowl and sprinkle the salt over the top. Gently begin to rub and massage the salt into the leaves for 2-3 minutes, or until the kale begins to wilt and turn a darker shade of green. Add the apples, onion, and cranberries and toss to combine. Drizzle the vinaigrette over and toss again. Top with the cheese and sunflower seeds and serve!

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