For my second guest blogger of January, I give you, Gena Hamshaw of Choosing Raw! *The crowd goes wild!* Gena is a smart, kind, and down-to-earth lady who happens to be a fantastic vegan blogger. I was fortunate enough to attend one of the classes she was on the panel for at VVC last year, but unfortunately wasn’t able to formally meet her. She brings a healthy, yet well-rounded, perspective to vegan dishes and has decided to share this gorgeous salad, with us!
It’s January, which means that everybody is talking about salad. As someone who considers salad to be her all time favorite food, I’m of course never disappointed to see it getting the culinary attention it so richly deserves. But I do think it’s a shame that salads are so often associated, at least during resolution season, with words like“skinny,” “slim down,” “cleanse,” or “diet.”
Sure, salads are healthy. And depending on how you prepare them, they can also help to lighten things up after all of the holiday indulgence. But salads don’t have to feel ascetic. In fact, I think they can be one of the most satisfying plant-powered meals out there, offering us endless texture, variety, and flavor. Love crunch? Add some toasted chickpeas, some nuts or seeds, or some crumbled crackers of your choosing. Got a sweet tooth? Pile your salads high with sweet roasted root vegetables, candied pecans, or dried fruit. Craving protein? Sear some tempeh or tofu cubes and add them to your bowl, or smother your salad in a creamy hempseed dressing. We all know that salads are lovely vehicles for leafy greens. But they can satisfy you in ways that go far beyond the requisite health benefits, too.
I love this salad for a lot of reasons. First, it shows off the beauty of raw kale, which is a delightfully hardy salad base. Kale salad is one of the few that will keep overnight, so you can make a bunch and enjoy leftovers for days. It’s also got tons of texture, fiber, and nutrition.
Second, this salad feels, for lack of a better word, gourmet. Pitted black olives add wonderful saltiness and umami, while orange adds sweetness and a touch of acid. Fennel, an oft-neglected winter produce star, adds crunch and freshness to the meal. Taken together, this salad is intensely flavorful, varied and interesting enough to please anyone. Even a salad skeptic. Here’s how to make it.
- 6 cups kale, washed, dried, and chopped (looks like a ton, but it’ll wilt down)
- 2 medium bulbs fennel, trimmed and sliced thinly (about 2-3 cups)
- 1 cup orange segments
- ¾ cup black olives, pitted and halved
- 3 tablespoons olive oil (you can also use walnut oil for a nutty, complex flavor)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon chopped shallot
- Sea salt and black pepper to taste
- Place the kale in a large mixing bowl.
- Whisk together the oil, lemon juice, syrup, shallot, and a little salt and pepper (olives add salt to this dish, so take it easier with the salt than you normally would).
- Dress the kale with about ⅔ of the dressing. Massage dressing into the kale till it has wilted down considerably and is well dressed.
- Add the fennel, orange, and olives to the bowl. Add remaining dressing and toss again to combine. Serve.
One of the most common mistakes that I see my nutrition clients make with salads is that they eat veggies+dressing without sufficient protein and fat, and then feel hungry later. This salad isn’t particularly protein rich (though the kale does pack a nice protein punch), so I suggest serving it either as an appetizer or along with some cooked quinoa, legumes, rice, or any other hearty vegan grain/bean in order to round out your meal. Savor every complex, sweet/salty bite, and know that vegetables can nourish your senses every bit as much as they nourish your body. Happy 2014!
Gena Hamshaw is a certified clinical nutritionist and the author of Choosing Raw, a blog devoted to vegan and raw recipes. Her work has been published in O Magazine, VegNews Magazine, Food52, and Whole Living Daily. In her old life, Gena was a book editor. In her present life, she dreams about becoming a doctor, and is currently applying to medical school.