SRP #18: My own personal kale

In the world of dentistry, “SRP” stands for “Scaling and Root Planing,” a super thorough deep-clean.  In the world of FoodSwingBlog, “SRP” stands for “Short Recipe Post,” a condensed, flavor-packed post with minimal added comedic fillers and no high fructose corn syrup. 

Mustardy Kale & Quinoa Salad

All you kale-o-phobes out there, lend me your ears [tofu-a-phobes might as well listen too — the principles are the same]!!! You don’t hate kale [or tofu], what you hate is the way it has been prepared, or worse, unprepared.  There is a difference.
Kale [or tofu] is a wonderfully nutritious foodstuff, which is, itself, a perfect component of some really tasty dishes.  Unlike sad, soggy iceberg lettuce — fit only for wedge salads & Big Macs — kale has some real heft to it.  Admittedly, this heft is a double-edged sword, just like curly hair, being an adult, or owning a dog.  If eaten straight out of the ground, of course it feels like you’re chewing leather and possibly damaging your TMJ — like I said, it’s hefty!  If somebody just hacked a steak out of a live cow in front of your eyes and handed it to you to eat [Disclaimer:  PETA, fear not, I’m not endorsing such inhumane (or, inbovine) behavior…just making a point], it probably wouldn’t taste too good.

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However, if you take the time to embrace this heft by using it as a vehicle for other fresh, seasonal flavors, kale can really be an asset to many dishes.  Marination in a vinaigrette is an easy (and tasty) way to mellow out the shoe-leathery texture sans heat cooking.  As the kale sits in the mustard vinaigrette in the recipe below, it imbibes the tangy zip from the vinegar as the acids soften the sturdy leaves without making them soggy — kind of like how citrus juices “cook” raw seafood in ceviche.  I find a vinaigrette with a higher-than-usual acid:oil ratio (like this one) works best for kale salads due to the strong acid assault.
So, give kale a chance!  Transform this roughage from tediously tough to tantalizingly toothsome — it’s all in the prep 🙂

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Mustardy Kale & Quinoa Salad

1/2 cup tri-color quinoa (or mono-color, if that’s what you’ve got)
2 cloves garlic, smashed & minced
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 medium onion, cut in ~1/2″ dice
1/4 teaspoon iodized salt
1/4 teaspoon whole yellow mustard seeds
1/4 cup red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon orange juice
1/2″ knob of fresh ginger, finely minced
1 tablespoon sunflower seed oil (or olive oil)
2 stalks celery, with leaves, finely diced
1 medium yellow bell pepper or 3-4 yellow sweet peppers, finely diced
1 can no-salt-added sweet corn
1 can reduced sodium black beans
3 large handfuls kale, coarsely chopped
Soak quinoa in cold, clean water for 3-4 hours (I typically put the quinoa & water in a clean, lidded jar and allow it to soak on the counter first thing in the morning).
Drain soaked quinoa, and rinse thoroughly in a fine mesh sieve.  Place quinoa, garlic, turmeric, black pepper, & curry powder in a saucepan, and cover by ~1″ of water.  Put the lid on the pot, bring the contents to a rolling boil, then turn flame down to low, and allow to simmer until all of the water has been absorbed, ~15-20 minutes.  Fluff quinoa with a fork, and cock pot lid to allow for some cooling.
In a large glass bowl or glass storage container, place the chopped onion, salt, mustard seed, & vinegar.  Stir, and allow to sit for 15 minutes to temper the onion.  Whisk in the prepared mustard, orange juice, minced ginger, a little extra salt & black pepper, & the oil.  Fold in the celery, yellow pepper, corn and beans.  Add the kale, and toss again, taking special care to ensure that every bit of kale gets some vinaigrette (sounds neurotic, but this is important for softening the kale to a more palatable texture).  Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, and give the salad a final toss before serving.
*Note:  Folding in diced avocado or chopped hard-boiled egg (like this double-yolked monster) just before serving is never a bad idea 😉

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