The 10-Minute, Super-Amazing, Magical Cure-All

I know, bummer. Smack in the middle of the season of gingerbread cakes and golden crispy latkes and honey-glazed spiral hams, you guys log in to see…

…an entire post devoted to kale salad. Not a BLT salad or a wedge of iceberg with Thousand Island dripping in and around the crevices. But a yawn-inducing, omega-3-rich, good-for-you, raw bowl of nutrients that falls into the “leafy green” category. Thanks, Jenny! Thanks for the big bowl of homework!

Go ahead, leave the page. Go lose yourself in that double chocolate Yule log. Cause then the secret of a kale salad’s hidden superpowers is still somewhat secure. Here’s the thing: This concoction above may look like a dutiful mound of kale with pomegranate seeds and thinly shaved red onions, but it’s actually more than that. A lot more. I’m telling you, if you can get your kids to eat it — and I’m still shocked that mine will — all kinds of amazingly freaky things start to happen. Like for starters, I think I can actually see my daughter growing before my eyes, her shirt bursting at the buttons, Lou Ferrigno-style, right at the dinner table.

But the real magic of kale is a little more subtle. When you — as in you, mom or dad! — get up from the table you’ll suddenly notice that the guilt you have been carrying around with you all day about missing “parent observation day” at ballet has been replaced by a rush of happiness endorphins. And you know how you’ve been beating yourself up over the fact that your eight-year-old still can’t tell time on what is now known in the house as “a real clock” (aka, not a digital one)? For at least a few days after you have served your children this salad, that hardly seems to register on the guilt-o-meter either. The remorse over skipping the bedtime story? Gone. Completely cancelled out.

I’m telling you, this stuff is powerful. And its applications of guilt-erasing possibilities: endless.

Kale Salad Combinations

Here is where I start with all my kale salads. To a large bowl, add:

2 bunches lacinato or curly kale (about 1 pound, or 6 cups), de-stemmed and cut into bite-size pieces or shreds
3 tablespoons very finely minced red onion
My Legit All Purpose Dressing: Whisk vigorously or shake together all the following ingredients in a jar: 1/4 cup lemon juice (from about 1 1/2 lemons), 1 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1 1/2 teaspoons honey, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, 1/3 cup olive oil

Then I toss in add-ins based on my mood and my pantry, such as:

  • Feta, golden raisins, crispy chickpeas (shown above, with the added protein, it’s dinner)
  • Raw sliced almonds, dried cranberries
  • Minced peeled apples, candied walnuts
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Avocados, quick pickled onions (omit the minced red onion if you do this)

How would you make it?

P.S. The easiest kale dinner and a magic grid of salad dressings.

(Pomegranate-Kale photo by Chelsea Cavanaugh. A version of this post first appeared on Dinner: A Love Story, eight years ago. Reprinted with permission.)