Kale is good for you. So are friends. But friends are a lot more fun. This is a repost of a recipe that has made a strong comeback in my repertoire and features kale in its most fun version. But it’s really a shout out to two friends who made a huge difference in the lives of everyone around them.
They are Vera and Nina. Last weekend we celebrated the life of Vera, who spread her unique brand of joy for 89 years. Today, her cousin and BFF Nina—my mother—would have turned 89.
Go to the original post for details on how and why to massage kale. Spoiler alert—it softens it into submission and makes it really, really tasty. The salad did what good recipes do, and transferred title of ownership as it gained a following. Once it landed on Bring It, it became Edie’s Kale Salad, and when my sister Anne brought it to Vera’s, where it played on repeat, it became “Anne’s Kale Salad.”
Vera’s home, an oyster shell’s throw from the harbor, was better known as “The Vortex” for its tendency to draw people in and prevent them from leaving. If you came for a night, Vera immediately campaigned for it to be a weekend, then a long weekend. Vera’s place reminded me of the home where I grew up, on the other side of the country, where Nina’s smile made everyone feel relaxed, welcome and relevant.
At Vera’s, this salad sat on the table at many a summer dinner, standing up to the heat and humbly letting the feast of lobster and clams and fresh corn take center stage. It sat there quietly, smiling, like Vera and Nina always did, just happy to be among the good company of friends and family.
This weekend, in honor of two friends who brought out the best in each other and everyone around them, I’m serving up some of Vera’s Kale Salad and Nina’s Margarita Pie. I hope you all have a delicious weekend!
Massaged Kale Salad
1 large bunch kale (curly is best)
1 tsp kosher salt (use a little less if using regular salt)
1/4 medium-small red onion, thinly sliced or diced
1/3 cup chopped toasted almonds or nuts of choice
1/3 cup raisins, currants or dried fruit of choice
1/2 large avocado, diced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
Soak kale in water to loosen any dirt. Wash individual leaves as you de-stem them (pull leaf away from thickest parts of stem). Shake dry. Be fancy and chiffonade leaves (stack, roll and slice into thin ribbons) and put in a large bowl. Or, be more Edie than Martha and chop it or tear it. Sprinkle salt over kale and, using hands, massage kale for 3-4 minutes. After about a minute you’ll notice a big difference in the leaves – they’ll start to soften and turn a dark green almost as though you were steaming them. When done, drain off any liquid that collects on bottom of bowl (may or may not happen) and set kale aside.
If you are starting with raw nuts…Heat a small sauce pan, toss in whole nuts and toast until nuts start to brown slightly. Shake pan on occasion to brown nuts evenly and to keep from burning them. Walnuts, pecans, filberts or even sunflower seeds are great in this salad too. Remove nuts from pan and give them a rough chop on your cutting board. Add nuts to bowl of kale.
Add diced avocado, onions and raisins to bowl (again, raisins, currants, your fave dried fruit in raisin-sized pieces or whatever you have on hand). Pour olive oil and apple cider vinegar evenly over bowl of goodness, then toss until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed.
One of the many beauties of kale is its indestructibility (if that’s a word). You can bring this anywhere in anything, store it wherever and it will not suffer. I have transported it in everything from ziploc bags to salad bowls to recycled takeout containers and it has survived in backpacks for hours before being enjoyed for lunch or aprés ski.