I’ll be honest with you salad is not my favourite. Unless someone else makes it. Then a big ‘ole plate of fresh salad all of a sudden becomes so appetizing!;) But we all know salad is good for us so Im always trying to find ways to make salad more appetizing.
Mostly the thing I don’t love about salads is that they are cold. I am a fan of warm food. So if I am given the choice between a hot meal and a cold salad I will pick the hot meal every single time.
And I hate the tediousness of having to chop all those fruits and veggies to make one salad.
Enter the warm salad! Now I can have my green and have them warm too! The key is to use kale which is a rather tough green and can stand up to a bit of heat. Actually I find that the heat along with the massaging technique I use really helps to make kale much more palatable.
How soften Kale to make it edible
As healthy as kale is, I find eating it raw is not fun. It is quite tough and fibrous and need a bit of work to break it down.
First you need to remove the tough stem. Pull the leaves off the stem and then wash and chop them to bite sized pieces. Then you need to massage the kale with some salt and a bit of olive oil. A flakey salt is best as the rough edges will help break down the leaves better. But regular salt will work too. You really have to get in there with your fingers and breakdown the leaves a bit. You will start to feel the leaves soften as you massage.
The longer you let the kale sit after being massaged, the softer it will get. Adding citrus will also help breakdown the leaves. Kale is a great for make ahead salad too because it actually gets better the next day rather than turn into a soggy mess like lettuce does.
Adding something warm to the kale also helps to soften the kale leaves. A freshly cooked grain works really well. Like couscous, quinoa or bulgur. As long as it is a bit warm when you toss it into the salad that will also help break down the leaves.
Add whatever protein you like, shredded rotisserie chicken, tofu or even shrimp to make this a full meal and definitely not a boring cold salad!
Now I just need to get someone else to make this for me and it will be perfect!
Warm Kale & Pearl Couscous Salad
For the Pearl Couscous
- 1 cup pearl couscous (sub regular couscous, quinoa or any other grain you like!)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp better than boullion vegetable soup base (or just skip this and add 1 tsp salt)
- 2 cups water (or stock)
For the Salad
- 1 large head of kale
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp flakey sea salt
- 1 large orange (I used a blood orange for this, a cara cara or navel will work really well too)
- 1 tbsp hemp seeds
- 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
Cook the Pearl Couscous
- In a medium sized saucepan with a lid, heat up 1 tbsp olive oil on medium heat and add 1 cup pearl couscous. Stir and allow to the couscous to start turning golden brown.
- Add 2 cups water and 1 tsp boullion base (or 1 tsp salt).
- Bring to a boil on medium low and allow the couscous to absorb all the water.
- Once the water has absorbed, cover and remove from heat. Allow this to steam with the lid on while you prepare the salad (about 10 minutes).
- Remove stems from the kale and wash and dry all the leaves. Chop the kale into bite sized pieces. Toss into a large bowl and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp flakey salt and 2 tbsp olive oil. Using your hands massage the olive oil and salt into the kale really well. You should start to feel the leaves soften as you do this. Set aside.
- Using a sharp knive, slice the top and bottom off the orange and then gently run the knife along the sides of the orange to remove the peel including any white pith.
- Over a small bowl (to catch all the juices – you will need this later), hold the peeled orange in one hand and use the knife to carefully slice along the side of each segment into the centre of the orange to separate each segment from its tougher outer layer (this is called supreming an orange!). Collect the peeled orange segments and any juices in the bowl. Squeeze any remaining juice out of the remaining membranes you have left in your hand and discard what is left of the orange.
- Pour the orange juice and segments over the kale and give it a quick toss (I like using my fingers for this).
- Sprinkle the salad with 1 tbsp hemp seeds and 1/2 cup pomegranate (feel free to switch up the toppings to whatever you like – pumpkin seeds, berries, sliced nuts etc.). Toss to combine.
- Give the salad a taste and add a bit more flakey salt or orange juice if needed.
- The couscous should be ready by now. Fluff with a fork and toss into the salad while it is still warm.
- Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.
- Serve immediately for a warm salad. This will also keep in the fridge for up to 3 days. The kale will get softer the longer it sits.