I’m very serious about kale salads.
I like to make this salad and eat it for several days because, unlike other salad greens, dressed kale really holds up. Only the avocado and nuts need be added fresh.
Nutrition-wise, ubiquitous kale is hard to beat: dark, green, open leaves teaming with phytonutrients and vitamins to give us that energising nutrient kick we all crave. Raw kale can be trickier to digest. By marinating it, we not only render it less challenging for the system, but we also make it more nutritionally available.
The chicken here is optional (I like to give you options). I use this technique to prepare a batch of cold chicken at the beginning of the week for lunches. Cinnamon is currently my favourite antioxidant hero spice (don’t tell fresh ginger).Chicken will last 3-4 days, covered, in the fridge.
Ultimate Kale Salad
200g organic kale (treat yourself)
1 tbsp tahini
1tbsp boiling water
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1.25L of vegetable/ chicken stock or bouillon
½ tsp cinnamon or a stick
2 good-quality chicken breasts, skin off
1 medium sweet potato
A large handful of whole hazelnuts
1 cup of cooked quinoa (or leftover wild rice/pearl barley)
1 pomegranate, seeded or 150g of fresh pomegranate seeds
zest and juice of 1 orange
splash of olive oil, to serve
Start with the kale.
Mix 1tbsp of tahini and with 1tbsp boiling water in a jar, add the zest and the juice of the lemon, as well as some sea salt. Don’t skimp on the lemon zest here, it really makes it. Shake to combine until smooth. Mixture should be pourable. Add a splash more water or olive oil if you need to.
Remove the kale leaves from their woody stalks. Chop roughly. Place in a sealable container or bowl with the tahini lemon marinade and combine - get friendly with your salad, use your hands.
Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Juicy anti-inflammatory lunchbox chicken. * optional
Add 1.25L of quality vegetable or chicken stock to a smallish saucepan with a tight fitting lid, along with ½ tsp powdered cinnamon or a cinnamon stick (smashed garlic or dried herbs are a great addition here too.) Bring to a rolling boil, then reduce to a very low heat, like, a 1/10, and immediately add the 2 chicken breasts. Cover with a lid and leave for 10 minutes. The great thing I find about this technique is that you can test the chicken. Take it out and slice it in half. If it ain’t ready, just pop it back in for 1-2 more minutes. No more chicken neurosis.
Don’t drain the poaching liquid, you’re gonna need it. Remove cooked breasts and slice thinly, acrossways before refrigerating in a sealed container.
Peel and cube your sweet potato. If you’ve made the cinnamon poached chicken above, simply pop the sweet potato into this liquid. If not, bring 1.25L vegetable stock to the boil with cinnamon before adding your sweet potato. Cook on moderate heat until just tender (about 9-10 minutes.) Drain.
Keep the sweet potato cooking water for a warming drink or to cook grains in.
At 160C fan, toast your hazelnuts on a baking tray. This should take about 9 minutes. I always err on the lower temperature side when roasting nuts. I find that I lose less to the God of Charcoal that way.
Remove. Cool. Chop Roughly.
The last bit.
Slice your avocado into small pieces and gently combine with the kale.
Add cooked quinoa, poached chicken (if using), and cooled sweet potato. Zest your orange and add to the salad before cutting the fruit in half and squeezing its juice into the salad. Toss lightly. You can also add a slug of olive oil if you want a more moist salad.
To serve, add your pomegranate seeds and sprinkle with toasted hazelnuts.