Massaged Kale Dinner Salad

Monday, July 16, 2012


This past weekend, Dayv and I attended the wedding of our dear friends.  It was a bit unconventional, as they married on the deck of a trendy bar and grill in a hip area of Philadelphia.  There was a cocktail hour which was followed by a vegan's worst nightmare- a catered sit down dinner.

Although our friends discussed with the chef extensively about our special dietary restrictions, and were assured that the chef was "very familiar with vegan and gluten-free diets", he proved to be anything but.  A waitress attempted to serve us several entrees, including spinach linguine and salmon with green beans(it was gluten-free, she said). We eventually ended up with a bowl of lettuce with olive oil and vinegar on the side.  Luckily, I anticipated this problem and packed two cucumbers, walnuts, and an avocado, which promptly topped my salad.

These are the times, albeit rare, that I truly feel like I'm in the 3%.  I honestly believe that vegans are quite possibly the easiest group of people to feed.  Most of us(which includes my husband at this point), are perfectly content if you serve us a big bowl of various vegetables, a grain, bean/legume, or nut/seed, and served with oil and vinegar on the side.  But, too often, those who are not accustomed to veganism, somehow believe a bowl of limp lettuce will do.  I want to reach out to all of those chefs and offer a class- "How to make a proper salad for a vegan."

Although it's incredibly cliche, I love salad.  It was what I made myself for dinner every night after I became vegan(seven years ago).  After Dayv and I got married two years ago, I began cooking and trying new types of meals for dinner.  Although I do love mixing it up, dinner salads are my comfort zone.  It's a meal I know I will thoroughly enjoy and love every bite.  And it's the dinner that my body loves and appreciates the most.  I would venture to say I eat a salad similar to this, 99% of the time.  


The beauty of this salad is that you really can put whatever you want in it, after you have the base prepared.  If you want mangoes(my other favorite) instead of berries, do it.  If you have broccoli instead of cauliflower, use it.  I will say, though, that my must-haves to make a dinner salad are avocado and walnuts.  They pair so perfectly together that every night I find myself "saving the best for last" and getting a couple spoonfuls of just avocado and walnuts.

Massaged Kale Dinner Salad
makes one very large salad
salad base:
3 leaves of kale, rinsed and torn into small pieces, discarding the stem
1/8th of a lemon
generous sprinkling of sea salt
1/2 head of romaine lettuce, chopped
1 cup of baby spinach
1/4 of an avocado, diced

add-ins*:
1/4 of an avocado, diced
3 strawberries, diced
1/4 cup blueberries
1/2 cup tomato, diced
1/2: slice of red onion, diced
3 slices of portabella mushrooms, diced
1/2 cup baby carrots, sliced
1 cup zucchini, diced
2 pickle cucumbers, diced
1/5th of a head of cauliflower, chopped
1/2 cup chickpeas
1/4 cup walnuts

*use whatever vegetables, fruits, and protein you have on hand.

In a large mixing bowl, squeeze lemon on kale and sprinkle with sea salt.  Massage with your hands until kale shrinks dramatically and is a deep green.  Add in lettuce, spinach, and avocado.  Use your hands to massage the greens with the avocado until they are evenly coated.  Add in additional ingredients, thoroughly mixing them throughout the prepared leaves.  Enjoy!

27 comments:

  1. love the salad. so much crunch and so much goodness! wow you pack a mean rescue kit!;) i think i should start carrying around some avo. I usually have a food bar or two with me, plus a snack pack of home roasted nuts for the same reason.I anyway get hungry every 2 hours, so i will snack at a friends place while they order pizza and what not and end up with just a few options for us to eat.
    yeah u tell those chefs girl!

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    1. i love the idea of a snack pack of roasted nuts! i ALWAYS keep larabars with me, but packed that rescue kit particularly for the wedding ;)

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  2. sorry to hear that you had such a bad dining experience, but serious highfives to you for being so prepared! my wedding lifesavers tend to be a shiny clutch stuffed with larabars, but maybe i'll throw in an avocado from now on too ;) hopefully we wont need it in a few weeks for one of my best friend's weddings - she sent me the caterers detailed menu about a month ago to pick apart and put together vegan meals! fingers crossed they studied it.

    awesome salad too!

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    1. i always have at least 3 larabars in my purse at any given time ;)

      that's awesome you were able to semi-create your own dinner. i'm sure you won't have a problem. i should have called ahead, just to make sure, but i gave them the benefit of the doubt. never again, though..

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  3. I completely agree with this post! So many people seem to equate vegan with a bowl of lettuce and a slice of tomato or two. I think it just goes to show that a lot of people still view salads as an afterthought and simply a side dish. They're missing out! And clearly not getting enough veggies in their lives. :)

    Love your salad!

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    1. exactly! you understand completely ;)

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  4. The words "catered sit down dinner" would make me run in the other direction! In my opinion, a "real" chef would know how to make something taste good without having to cover it in meat and cheese.

    I've never tried massaging kale, but now I'll have to try that out ... fab idea!

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    1. i hear you, erin. i ALWAYS freak out when i'm forced into an occasion that is catered.

      i can't believe you've never massaged kale! you gotta try it!

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  5. That is one hell of a salad!!! I love salads too but only when they're packed with yummy veggies. I, too, get soooo annoyed in situations like this when the "chef" doesn't understand what to serve a vegan. I mean, it's 2012 for god's sake.

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    1. exactly, bianca! it is 2012! learn to cut up some veggies for goodness sake!

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  6. That looks like a sexy salad! I love salads and i always add some suits and nuts into them.

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  7. I am so impressed that you had those things in your purse! Way to handle a tricky situation!

    I'm so into salads right now, and this one looks fantastic! I love the addition of portabello! Yum!

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    1. thank you! my motto is "always be prepared" ;) and i love me some mushrooms!

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  8. I also had some bad situations like this before...Chefs do not learn how to make beautiful garnished salads I guess...but they do take the time to learn how to cut the meat off of different kind of animals...? Weird stuff. Your salad look delicious...I love how you added some blueberries it looks perfect !!

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    1. it's weird, isn't it? i would think chopping up vegetables is exponentially easier than cooking a meat dish..but seeing as i've never cooked any type of meat, i guess i can't say for sure..

      i love the blueberries in there! they're little bursts of sweetness ;)

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  9. Now that is a spectacular salad! I love the addition of all the fruits.

    ❀ It's Carmen

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    1. thanks, carmen! i love your italics ;)

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  10. My sister and her husband are super busy and really want to help out by cooking them healthy meals. I think this one is now on the list.

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  11. This is such a beautiful salad!

    I can totally relate, I just do not understand why it is such a challenge for chefs to prepare a WOW or outstanding vegan meal - I work at an Inn and we that hosts over 300 coporate events and 158 weddings a year in a little New Hampshire Town and we are so knowledgable about gluten free, vegan, sugar free (all diets under the sun) I attended a Conference in New Orleans at a Marriot....breakfast one morning was a fruit plate - lunch was an awful iceberg lettuce salad, and lunch was your typical pasta with veggies - Dinner at the Big Gala was I kid you not a 1/2 cup of rice and 8 asparagus spears- really? Thankfully I came prepared and had backup meals and snacks that I brought with me, but when is the rest of the world goign to get on board with this growing way of living?

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    1. OMIGOSH! those meals sound terrible! so, apparently, they think you can sustain on...600 calories in a day?! seriously, we should make a psa to all chefs out there...

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    2. Thank goodness for Love Grown Granola & Go Picnic snack packs (vegan and gluten free!) along with roasted edamame - I awlays joke that most people gain wait at that conference where as I lose it :)

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  12. Yum! This salad looks so good! Definitely my size salad!

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  13. I know how you feel! I was recently at a friends wedding, and it was a buffet-style meal. The vegan sausage rolls were placed in front of the meat ones, so EVERYONE started grabbing those. My partner ended up grabbing the entire tray and bringing them to our table! (They were basically the only vegan food their) We had our 6 years old with us, and a dinner of vegan sausage rolls (which I can't eat), raw courgette, carrot and brocolli, and stale bread rolls. Lettuce was used as a garnish for the meat dishes, and was then offered to us! People seriously have no idea. I always go prapared though, either trail mix, bread sticks for the little one, or fruit. Being vegan really makes you plan ahead!

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    1. wow- that sounds like a nightmare! i cannot believe they offered you the garnish from the meat dishes! good thing you were prepared!!

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