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Blood Orange and Kale Salad

As I grew up, an abundance of kale was always growing up too. Spring, summer, and fall, there were always at least two different kinds of kale growing out back in my family’s garden. That health jazz I feed you guys on my blog? Yeah, my parents love that stuff too, and they have a particular passion for greens, the superstars of the vegetable kingdom.

I’ve eaten kale countless ways, innumerable times, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. All that rabbit chomping has led me to love the leafy green too. (And thank the world for that because other I would have been one unhappy kid.) However, when raw kale salads first started sprouting into my horizon, I was stumped. Sure, I had consumed raw kale before, blended smoothly into a morning shake, but not once in my kale-packed years had the raw leafy green replaced lettuce in my salad bowl. Raw kale? “Gross,” I thought when I first heard of the idea. And gross is what I thought when I tasted my first kale salad too.

However, raw kale salads didn’t leave me alone after my first sampling experience. I started noticing them everywhere, popping up on numerous blogs, Whole Foods salad bars, and restaurant menus. Having been a kale consumer since age, let’s say, three, I felt like I couldn’t give up on the new trend.  So I kept testing out and grimacing at more and more versions of the raw green, until finally, yes finally, I found a few salads that were delicious. I also discovered the make or break for turning raw kale into a lettuce-like ingredient.

For kale salads, it’s all about the dressing. You need a dressing that’s going to mask the grassy-like flavor of the green in its uncooked form. It doesn’t have to be elaborate (for instance, I stick with olive oil, balsamic, and a few shallots), but it does have to be an ample amount to coat the entire surface of the leaves. After that, you’ll discover that raw kale really does lend itself to a nice palatable crunch. Below, I add a few blood oranges, one of my favorite winter treats, for a sweetness that pleasantly compliments the earthiness of the kale and acidity of the balsamic.

What are your thoughts on raw kale? Are you a fan of kale salads or are monster green smoothies as far as you’ll take the

Blood Orange and Kale Salad

(Makes 2 large salads or 3-4 side salads)

-1/2 large bunch kale, stems removed, sliced into ribbons (about 5 cups)
-1 blood orange, peeled, segments sliced into thirds
-1 shallot, minced
-2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
-2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
-1/2 tsp. sriracha
-1/2 tsp. salt

Toss kale and blood oranges in a large bowl. Whisk sriracha, salt, and vinegar until combined.

Place oil in a skillet over high heat. Add shallots and saute until transluscent, 2-3 minutes.

Quickly whisk oil into vinegar mixture, and pour over kale. Toss until thoroughly combined. Serve.