Wednesday, January 6, 2010

who ya calling obsessed?

A while back I wrote a post about a raw kale salad that Amanda had sampled at a wine tasting dinner. I tried (unsuccesfully) to recreate that dish and wondered if anyone else has ever made one. It turns out my dear friend Olga makes a raw kale salad. In fact, she considers it her specialty. Olga is someone I would consider a VERY healthy eater. She is a massage therapist and is in great shape. Here is what she has to say on the topic of RAW KALE SALAD:

I am the queen of raw kale salad, a kale ceviche, as I have monikered it. Making some right now with lots of vinegar, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, sun dried tomatoes, Persian cukes and, I think this is very important: Lacinato kale, it's more tender and sweeter. It's the non-curly kind, deep dark emerald green.
Some good things to put in your raw kale salad

I've got die-hard non-salad eaters slurping up the kale with this recipe! I chop the lacinato kale into large pieces and let it sit in much vinegar and pomegranate molasses, plus I chop up Persian cukes nice and thin and they marinate and pickle in the "brine" -- YUM!  Also sun dried tomatoes add a nice saltiness; sprinkle walnuts on top as a last addition to maintain the crunch. 

The best batch I've made so far is when I used the pickling water from a giant jar of Russian pickled cherry tomatoes -- why? Probably the sugar in the "brine!" So, adding a sweet thing helps, like sweet peppers. The pomegranate molasses adds the sweet. I also throw in pomegranate kernels. The trick is letting the whole thing "cook" and sit in the vinegar bath for at least a day. I'm telling you, I've got folks who don't eat salad slurping this up and the folks that do eat salad are in heaven cause it tastes so goooooooood. I'm a bit into it myself. Been using sweeter greens like collards and bok choy, too. The collards start out by looking really ugly as they get marinated (wilted and rather sickly looking), but then they mix in and you can't tell which green is which.
Anyway, I'm proud of this cause I created this recipe myself! I really did, I did! in my quest for raw "cooking," which BTW, has gotten me into vinegars lately. I saw at my co-op a raw coconut sap vinegar!!! gonna try it this week.

Back to Deborah
Yeah Olga! Genius! Can't wait to try this at home. Hey and did you say you are into vinegars? Well, me too! I read somewhere a while back some snarky writer describe an overly food-obsessed person as someone who has lots of different vinegars in their pantry. Oh yeah?
I love vinegar and I love having lots of different kinds and I CAN tell the difference and they DO have different uses. Here is a random sample of the vinegars I currently have in my pantry:

These Asian vinegars each have a distinctive flavor. The rice vinegar is one I use in my typical stir-frys. The plum juice vinegar in the middle has a sweet and salty tatse. It is almost like an Asian balsamic in that it has some body and complexity. The Eden Selected ume plum vinegar is an acquired taste- VERY salty. I really only use it when it is specified in a recipe.

These balsamics are great for marinades, salad dressings and to finish a dish. I use them when I want a subltle sweetness. The two fruit infused white balsamics on the right I use specifically when I dont want the dark color of traditional balsamic. The fig infused vinegar has a bit deeper fruit flavor than the pear. The classic balsamic here on the left is really just a cheapy fake of the more expensive aged balsamics that I only buy on very special occasions.

These are my basic go to vinegars when I am making salad dressing. I love the straight up acidity of red wine vinegar. The Capriete sherry vinegar is my current all time favorite and so far I have only found it sold at Fairways. It has a really nice balance of sweet and sour and it is a lovely amber brown color- not pitch black like balsamic, with that inky color I always hesitate to put it on salads.

The white vinegar I use to clean the floors, counters and pour into the dish washer for a cleansing rinse. The vinegar on the right is homemade purple-ruffle basil in cider vinegar. Purple-ruffle basil makes a great vinegar with a bright distinctive taste and an insane scarlet color.

Ok, perhaps I have more vinegar than I need, but it makes me happy and everyone should have a little happiness, right?

Amanda, we finally have a kale salad! What should we drink with it?

Yay! Sounds terrific! But first, I have a few questions. One - is it difficult to find lacinato kale? Sounds like it might be. Deb, I believe that was the type of kale in the amazing kale salad I enjoyed at Cafe Panache in NJ. I just googled lacinato kale, which I discovered is also called "black kale". That is what was in my salad! I'm so excited to try Olga's salad. Two - Since there are so many vinegars in the market today, I was curious what type of vinegar Olga uses for this salad. Three - should the salad be "drained" before serving? And finally, four - is it difficult to find Pomegranate molasses? Maybe Fairway?

I'm a little stumped as to which wine to pair with this particular salad. Salad typically is extremely hard to pair with wine to begin with. I've been considering all the different flavors in the salad, specifically the acidity and tartness of the vinegar and lemon juice. Then there is the sweetness of the pomegranate molasses. The saltiness of the sundried tomatoes adds yet another element. The kale salad I enjoyed at Cafe Panache sounds very similar to this recipe, but instead of the sundried tomatoes, it included something that looked like raisins on steroids. Not sure what they were. But getting back to the wine...I am thinking something a little off-dry (meaning there will be just a touch of sweetness), but with plenty of acidity. A slightly sweet Riesling first comes to mind. German Rieslings have different levels of sweetness, with Kabinett being the dryest.  The next level of sweetness is Spatlese. This word refers to the "late picking" of the grapes - they are picked after harvest. This results in the grapes being riper with more sugar content, which in turn produces wines which are more sweet. The wines tend to be bright with lively acidity. I think the sweetness of the wine combined with the wonderful acidity will work well in conjunction with the different flavors of the salad.

Another option would be an off-dry sparkling wine. Here at Wine & Spirit World over the holidays, we had great success with the Mumm "Cuvee M" sparkling wine from Napa Valley. It is a crisp, clean sparkler with good acidity and just a touch of sweetness. Something like this might be a fun accompaniment to Olga's salad as well, especially if enjoyed in the afternoon. The Mumm "Cuvee M" retails for around $20. Olga, thanks for sharing your salad with us. I can't wait to try it!


  1. "The raisins seemed on steroids perhaps due to them absorbing the liquid they were sitting in. That's why I use currants in my salad, so they don't plump up to Schwarzenegger-size proportions.

    Lacinato kale: widely available. I shop in health food stores and co-ops, I never had a problem finding it. Also in seasonal farmer's markets.

    Vinegars: being a health bum -- apple cider. Being a poly-vinegarist -- a vinegar party. So in addition to the apple cider vinegar I'll do a dash of this and that (I have a black currant vinegar, some cabernet sauvignon, fig ... you get the idea, which makes wine pairing even MORE CHALLENGING!) Which is why I prefer to drink a complex red exclusively. Wine issue solved.

    Pomegranate molasses or syrup or concentrate is becoming more and more available. I get the former at my co-op or the 24-hr Korean grocery in my neighborhood which caters to a large Eastern European patronage. So if you go to any of those neighborhoods -- Kensington, Sheepshead Bay, Brighton Beach -- stock up! But here's a tip: Trader Joe's used to carry a really nice pomegranate "glaze" that my mom turned me on to. I bought a ton of it cause the Joe deemed it un-sellable and was ceasing stocking it. Last year I saw a large stock of it still on the shelves at the Brooklyn Joe on Court st. Perhaps a mail-campaign from those of you out of reach of the multi-ethnic markets? I used that glaze for a while until I ran out. It's easy to run out since I pour that stuff in with the vinegar. (I try to re-use the vinegar bath for the next batch of kale coming in, rather immediately. It's vinegar, it keeps/preserves! Right?)

    I always wash and spin the kale in a salad spinner, so yes it's drained. It gets plenty wet in the vinegar bath, which I probably overdo, but hey, it's a work in progress!

    Go forth and feed yourselves upon the kale! It's one of the best greens for you.

    xxxxxxxxxx -- O."

  2. Olga, thanks so much for your recipe and all of your helpful answers to my questions. I can't wait to try out the recipe!
    Thanks again,

  3. Brilliant recipe. What I would add (or try) would be to let the veggies ferment for a week at 65-70 degrees and then stop the fermentation process then by refrigerating it. This is an age-old technique called lacto-fermentation which cultivates beneficial flora that our digestive systems often lack.

  4. Oh, and Lacinato Kale is also known as Dinasoar or Tuscan kale and is relatievly easy to find. We grow them for a summer thru winter harvest. It's my favorite of all the kale types.

  5. So I have my lacinato kale and persian cukes growing now and ready for the salad. I even bought the pomegranate molasses and went back to this post hoping to find Olga's exact recipe. Does she have an exact recipe for this for the proportions of vinegar etc?? Dying to make this and have raw food in the heat!


Thank you for your comment. Spammers have forced me to now review every comment before publishing. So please bear with me as I read through your comment. Thank you for visiting the blog!