I’d eat more vegan kale salads if they all had toasted coconut flakes and salty cashews.
I’ve been slow to warm up to the kale salad phenomenon. Sauteed, braised, roasted – I love it. But raw kale, I just haven’t found my groove. Mainly because I find it hard to chew, and I enjoy all the different types of lettuce out there, from soft, crunchy, tender, and sweet, earthy, and even spicy.
Turns out not all kale is created equal either! And to disregard that fact may have been a key factor in me not enjoying it. Often I would buy curly kale, which is fibrous and “green” tasting, while dyno kale, which I’ve used here is much more delicate in both texture and flavor. How you slice it also makes all the difference. The key to this Coconut Cashew Kale Salad is finely chopping, basically shredding, the kale, so make sure you’re using a sharp knife, and an olive oil massage (hah!). It takes only about a minute or two.
But it turns raw kale into something else altogether: a tender, sweet green that plays great in salad. Kale leaves have a natural coating that is great for protecting them from rain. Unfortunately, it also protects them from salad dressing. Massaging the leaves with oil removes this coating, so that the leaves can better absorb the dressing.
Wanting to coat the leaves with something slightly creamy, I made an easy, vegan, yogurt-basil dressing with Silk’s Dairy-Free Almond Yogurt. It has red wine vinegar for acidity, and a clove of garlic for added flavor.
The dressing provides a rich mouthfeel that makes you momentarily forget that you’re eating “health food”.
Then I went with two of my favorite toppings – toasted coconut flakes and crunchy cashews. The sweet and salty crunch against the kale that you’ve made soft! works so well together. And scientifically, these two ingredients have a key component for salad – fat. Without fat, you’re left with a lack of satiety.
After a few bowls of this, I think I’ve found my raw kale groove. Maybe you just need the right dish to make you fall in love too.