Have you ever massaged your vegetables?
Like a real deep-tissue massage, by hand?
I’m obsessed with massaging my kale. It’s not weird at all.
Okay, maybe it is. But it takes kale from rough and tough, to soft and tender. Here’s my kale before massaging:
My obsession began with this kale salad recipe, and I’ve been eating lots of raw kale ever since. If you’ve ever tried raw kale and not been persuaded that it’s both nutritious and delicious, try giving it a massage after you wash it. Don’t dry it off completely, a little water helps the process. Just sprinkle on some salt and start squeezing the kale. Add more salt as you get to unwilted sections of kale, until the whole bowl is darkened and softened.
And then you can put this delicious peanut dressing on top, and you’ve got yourself a very healthy substitute for peanut noodles. I bet this peanut sauce would be really good on regular noodles, or on spiralized vegetable noodles. I can confirm that it’s also an excellent dip for crackers and baby carrots, because that’s how we ate the remainder of the peanut sauce left over after making this salad.
Thai Peanut Kale Salad
1 large head of kale, with the tough part of the stem removed, torn into bite-size pieces
1/2 tsp salt
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup chopped red cabbage (less than 1/4 of a head)
1/4 cup roasted peanuts
12 oz package extra firm tofu
Non-stick baking spray
3/4 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 to 3/4 cup water
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
4 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp peanut oil
1/8 tsp cayenne powder (more if you like it hot)
Bake the tofu
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F and begin draining your tofu. Remove it from the package and put a plate or cutting board on top and top that with something heavy like a book or skillet. Let it drain for about 10 minutes. After draining, cut into roughly 1-inch cubes. Arrange tofu on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for a total of 30 minutes, stirring once halfway through to ensure even cooking. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the pan.
While your tofu is cooking, massage the kale and make the peanut sauce.
Massage the kale
The kale wilts more easily if it’s not bone-dry, so don’t dry it off too much after rinsing.To massage the kale, place it in a large bowl and sprinkle it with a bit of the salt. Squeeze the kale with your hands until it begins to wilt. Add more salt if the kale isn’t wilting, or as you reach sections that are unsalted. (It’s okay to add more than the 1/2 tsp called for if you need to.) When you’re finished, the kale should have reduced in volume and darkened in color.
Make the peanut sauce
Add the peanut butter, 1/2 cup of water, garlic, ginger, lime juice, soy sauce, peanut oil, and cayenne pepper to a bowl, and whisk until combine. Add more water if necessary, so that it’s not too thick to mix with the vegetables.
Assemble the salad
Combine the chopped bell pepper, cabbage, and carrot with the massaged kale. Toss with 1/2 cup of the peanut sauce. Top with a handful of cooled tofu and peanuts when serving.