Trust Us on This One: Kale Massage

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From our Friends at Down to Earth Markets


kaleYears ago, during a discussion about the local food movement in the U.S., a farmer from New Mexico shared this story: He was selling his farm-grown potatoes to a lady at the farmers market. As he placed the potatoes in her shopping bag, one of them fell from the table onto the grassy dirt below. "Oh, please don't include that one," she said, "it's been on the ground!". 

This anecdote illustrates how far away we were from the connection to our food sources. These days, in the conversations between shoppers and food producers at Down to Earth Farmers Markets, it's hard to imagine we had once forgotten that our food originates in the earth. Our vendors often share their shoppers' informed interest in the food process - a real process that can get dirty. 

So we know that this community is not afraid to get a little messy, and we want to share a recipe idea that we're loving these days. It's for winter kale salad and it involves...yes, kale massage. 

At all three of our winter farmers markets - Mamaroneck, Ossining, and in Park Slope, Brooklyn - there are local farmers who stack their tables high with fresh, winter greens. They grow these crops in greenhouses. As a result, we can get the winter vitamin punch we need, without adding food miles from all over the world. In keeping these food purchases local, we also support small businesses in our area, and in turn, the dark, leafy greens support our health.  

To start a kale salad, one of the secrets is to finely cut the kale. Separate the kale leaves from the tough stems and discard the stems. Then cut the kale leaves into thin strips. From there, add in a vinaigrette dressing of your choice. This easy Balsamic Vinaigrette from the cooking site, Chinese Grandma, is delicious. Now once the thin strips of kale are coated with the vinaigrette, here comes the fun, messy part: massage it up! Rub the vinaigrette into the kale. (Plastic gloves are an option here.) Work it out for at least five minutes - nobody likes a wussy massage, not even kale! The kale will begin to soften and absorb the dressing. 

From there, chop up a crisp local apple and add in a salty cheese, such as a dry, crumbly ricotta. This salad can keep for a few days - and it gets better with time. For other creative approaches to kale salad, take a look at this list of 10 Delicious Kale Salads from The Kitchn. (Really it's spelled that way!) Now let's give kale the love it kneads this winter.