Cool as kale.

Raw kale is a current darling of the food scene, and kale salads have appeared on hip restaurant menus across the country. Why? Well, it’s good for you. It’s also fairly inexpensive and counter-intuitive. Hey, who doesn’t love a counter-intuitive vegetable?

Here’s the problem. It’s still kale. No matter how freshly-picked those leaves are, they are still tough and still a little bitter. One solution the food hipsters have identified is to massage your kale. Now, while I love my veggies, that’s a lot of affection just to get a salad on the table.

Here’s my solution: make a fresh, bright vinaigrette with just a pinch of sugar to offset the bitterness. Chop the kale thin –  chiffonade – and let it rest for 5 minutes after you dress it to wilt the greens slightly. That’s a salad you can love.

Kale with Tropical Cucumber Vinaigrette

This vinaigrette would also be great over a piece of grilled fish like tilapia or over mesclun greens.


  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup seeded, minced cucumber
  • 1 tbs finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbs finely chopped mint
  • 1/4 tsp lime zest
  • 1 tbs lime juice
  • 2/3 cup olive oil – the good stuff!
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • Hot sauce like Tabasco
  • 1/2 pound kale, ribbed and thinly sliced


  • Mash garlic into a paste with 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt using the back of your knife or a mortar and pestle.
  • Whisk together garlic paste, vinegar, cucumber and herbs with lime zest and juice. Let dressing rest for at least 5 minutes for cucumbers to soften and flavors to blend.
  • Whisk in olive oil and sugar. Taste with a piece of kale. Season dressing to taste with salt, pepper, hot sauce and additional vinegar, oil or sugar as needed. Moe bitter kale may taste better with a little extra pinch of sugar and an extra drizzle of oil.
  • Dress kale and let rest for 5 minutes to soften.

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