As I sat down today to post this recipe, I got to thinking about how ferociously kale has come onto the scene as the “it” food over the past few years. I can’t think of another natural health food which has risen to A-list star status as quickly as kale. I have an image of kale farmers just sitting on a huge pile of green money right in the middle of their fields of green kale. Once I saw someone sporting a t-shirt with big block college-style letters that read KALE. It was mildly amusing and caused me to have one of those little silent “huh that’s clever” partial laughs. I googled Kale T-shirts just to see how many other humorous kale phrases had been silk screened on to t-shirts. My findings revealed, “Oh, Kale Yeah!”, “Give ’em Kale”, “Kale’d It” and my personal favorite, “F*#@ Kale.” That last one actually caused me to nearly spit out my coffee. Simple, observant humor. People seem to either love kale or despise kale. I truly want to be the person who looks at a menu and wants to order the kale salad — not to be cool but because the hype about the health benefits of kale is no joke. Kale really is a super food — weighing in at only 35 calories per serving, it packs a massive vitamin, protein and fiber punch. But I’m not.
I have tried kale at least a dozen times and it just doesn’t do much for me, this coming from a woman who pretty much likes any vegetable you put in front of her. But my stubborn side keeps me going back to the greens section and grabbing a bunch of kale every few months with a determination to figure out a way to enjoy it. A few months ago, Chef Tricia Wheeler, suggested the ‘massage technique’ for kale. She said that often times when you are using fresh kale, it benefits from being massaged with some olive oil and salt to tenderize a little. Kale really is a diva, I thought to myself. But in all seriousness this technique, along with chopping the kale very fine, has made all the difference for me. Finely chopped kale looks similar to finely chopped parsley which gave me the idea to make a tabouli-style salad. I created this whole grain salad the other day and was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed it — particularly the kale which is hearty enough to keep the salad tasting fresh for a good three to four days. The result? I’ve had a delicious whole grain, vitamin packed, prepared lunch every day this week. I’d say I “Kale’d It!”
Kale Salad with Farro and Feta (Serves 8-10)
1 bunch green leafy kale, finely chopped
1/2 of one lemon
8 oz uncooked farro
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup finely chopped curly parsley
1 8-10 oz. package grape tomatoes
4 oz feta cheese (I like the tomato and basil variety)
1/2 cup olive oil, plus additional for drizzling on kale
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper
Prepare farro according to package directions and set aside to cool. Prepare dressing by whisking together olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, dry mustard, oregano, salt and pepper. In a small bowl, drizzle a few tablespoons of dressing over the garbanzo beans and let marinate. Place finely chopped kale in a large bowl. Drizzle kale with olive oil (1-2 Tbsp) and a generous pinch of salt. With clean hands, massage the kale for about three minutes — this will break it down and make it more flavorful and tender. Squeeze 1/2 of a lemon over top of the massaged kale. Add farro, garbanzo beans, parsley, tomatoes and feta. Dress with the rest of the dressing. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately or refrigerate. This hearty salad will keep well in your refrigerator for up to three days.
*If serving the following day(s), drizzle each serving with a touch of olive oil and red wine vinegar or a squeeze of lemon to brighten the flavor.