kale caesar

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plate1 If you aren’t on board with the kale movement yet, this is a great salad to get you started. All of those leafy greens can be a bit intimidating, and I know many of you are thinking that you’ve given kale a fair try and it’s just not for you. With any food, there is a multitude of possible preparations. And, with any food, not all preparations will please your palate. Kale is no different, so, if you’re not a believer in how delicious kale can be, I urge you give it another chance. Trust me, it’s worth it. Kale is not only one of the most nutritionally dense foods available, it is also delicious.

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For this salad, I’ve chosen to lightly roast the kale. This method softens the hearty green, making it more palatable for many. Roasting also creates bites of light, crispy kale in the dish (and by now, who doesn’t love kale chips). Every component of this salad is loaded with nutrition, including the creamy tahini caesar dressing.

pom kale I mentioned that this salad is loaded with nutrition... let me break it down.

Kale is an excellent source of vitamin K, which plays an important role in bone health and the maintenance of bone density. It contains beta carotene and vitamin C, as well as the compounds lutein and zeaxanthin which protect the eyes from macular degeneration. Kale contains several cancer fighting antioxidants as well as sulforaohane, a chemical with potent anti-cancer properties. Kale is also rich in nutrients, such as indole-3-carbinol, that support DNA repair.

Tahini is a paste made from ground sesame seeds and is prevalent in East African, Middle Eastern, Greek, and Turkish cuisines. It is an important component in dishes such as hummus and baba ganoush, and adds a wonderfully creamy texture to dressings (such as this tahini caesar). Sesame seeds are one of the best sources of copper, which is a powerful antioxidant that helps maintain the immune system. Copper also aids enzymes in the production of energy, the synthesis of neurotransmitters and with iron metabolism.  Sesame seeds also contain essential B vitamins, amino acids and manganese. They are a good source of calcium and protein, and thus are a good addition to many vegan and vegetarian diets.

Nutritional yeast is an excellent seasoning that can be used in a handful of dishes. It contains natural glutamic acid, an amino acid that works as a healthy and wonderful flavor enhancer. Nutritional yeast is a complete protein, meaning it contains all of the amino acids that the body is unable to produce on its own. It is also a great source of many B vitamins, high in fiber, and low in sodium.

Pomegranates are native to Persia, but are now cultivated around the world. They thrive in dry climates and are available for a short period during the winter season in the Northern Hemisphere. I add them to as many dishes as possible when they are available. They add a nice juicy pop and crunch to many dishes and are a delicious snack on their own. They are also packed with nutritional value and benefits. They are a good source of Vitamin C, B5 and potassium and they contain natural phenols including ellagitannins and flavonoids. Ellagitannins have antioxidant properties and bind with free radicals, reducing oxidation of cells. Studies have also shown compounds in pomegranate juice to reduce LDL oxidation and reduce heart disease risk factors. According to ancient Indian Ayurvedic practices, the juice and seeds of pomegranates are used as a tonic for the heart and throat, and are a healthful counterbalance for high sugar-fat diets.

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Ingredients

This will serve 2 as a main course, or 4 as a side.

2 bunches of kale (I used lacinato and curly kale, but any variety will work) ½ of a pomegranate 1 avocado, sliced tahini caesar dressing (recipe below)

Homemade Croutons: slice about 1 c of bread of your choice into 1" cubes. I used a sourdough, but  wheat or rye would be excellent too. Place on a baking sheet, sprinkle with olive oil, salt, and pepper and bake at 375° until dry and crispy, about 10 mins.

directions

Preheat oven to 375°F. Clean and completely dry the kale, remove the stems and rip each leaf into a few pieces. Once dry, rub the dressing onto the leaves and place on a large baking sheet. Bake for 5-10 minutes. You want most of the leaves to slightly soften and the ones around the edge and on top to get crisp. You are mostly wilting the greens, you do not want to overcook them.

While the kale is drying, cut the pomegranate in half and place in a large bowl of water to remove seeds. As you break the pomegranate apart, the white pith will float to the top and the seeds will sink, this makes them easy to remove and keeps your clothes free of stains from popping pomegranate seeds!

To assemble, place dressed kale on a serving platter and garnish with avocado,  pomegranate seeds, and homemade croutons.

tahini caesar

This dressing can easily be made vegan by replacing the honey with your favorite vegan sweetener.

1 T tahini 1 clove garlic 2 T olive oil 2 t honey 1 T raw apple cider vinegar 1 T nutritional yeast ½ t salt ½ t pepper zest and juice of 1 lemon

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until combined. Alternatively, you could mince the garlic by hand and whisk all ingredients together.