I love it when I find forgotten treasures in my refrigerator.
Well, not necessarily forgotten; just sort of… misplaced in my head. I was pretty sure I’d purchased kale recently and almost twice as sure that I had eaten it because I couldn’t find it anywhere in my fridge. But when I was tidying up earlier this afternoon, I realized that I hadn’t hidden the kale in my belly; nay, I’d placed it in the crisper drawer on the right hand side (which is usually my fruit drawer; how kale ended up there, I’ll never know).
Odd duck that I am, I let out a happy “Squee!” once I discovered the curly bunch of dark leafy greens (yes, I get excited about produce; it’s a quirk we’re going to classify as part of my charm), then proceeded to run through about 800 possible ways to use it. And if you know & love kale, you know that it’s beyond versatile, so I’m only exaggerating by about 200 ways. Soup, chips, sauteed with other tasty veggies… so many choices, but only one bunch of kale.
I settled on a simple raw salad once all was said & done. It had been far too long since I’d enjoyed a giant bowl of leafy greens for dinner, and with the recent gloomy weather and my health still not in the best shape, I wanted to reward my body something fresh and vibrant and rich in nutrients.
But a giant bowl of kale does not a balanced meal make, so I did some mental food math until I came up with an ingredient combo I liked. There were several of those, believe me, but I kept coming back to the kale & chickpea combo. It just seemed like a good balance of greens and protein, and if I used the citrus dressing that’s featured in my Garbanzo & Avocado Salad (which is in serious need of a photo makeover…), I would be halfway home. A few additions later, the loveliest of meals was served.
I know some people find this particular green to be a bit tough but personally, I like the extra texture. However, there’s no need to blanche or sauté the kale before making this salad. The beauty of it is that the vinaigrette takes care of “cooking” the greens, marinating them lightly so that they’re still crunchy & chewy, just a little less so. To make the dressing, I used my last bits of mandarin juice from the crazy score I got at the farmer’s market earlier this month (10 lbs for just $4, just because they were not cosmetically perfect – I love my farmer’s market!), but you can certainly use the juice of regular oranges, tangerines, etc. I would just suggest using fresh juice rather than the bottled/boxed kind, as it lends a sweeter, more vibrant flavor. Not a big fan of spicy heat? Simply omit the hot stuff (cayenne, in this instance, though I was secretly longing for a small drop of Sriracha) and you’re good to go.
Seriously, there’s nothing about this recipe that isn’t awesome. It’s easy to prepare, healthy, and ever-so-good-looking on one’s plate. It can be an entree salad or a nice side to go along with the rest of your meal, and can be prepared pretty much year round. And did I mention how blessedly affordable it is? With kale & garbanzos being some of the most inexpensive healthy foods out there, you can’t go wrong with this one! Let’s check it out (so I can get back to eating it, lol). ;)
Raw Kale & Garbanzo Salad with Spicy Citrus Vinaigrette (makes 3-4 servings; total cost per serving: $1.50)
3 c chopped fresh kale
1 can of garbanzos, drained (or 1.5 c cooked garbanzos, if you’ve cooked your own from dried)
1/2 medium carrot, sliced into thin discs
1/3 c sliced red onions
Spicy Citrus Vinaigrette
Juice of 2 large oranges
1 T rice vinegar
1 T olive oil
1 t honey
Generous pinch of salt
1/4 t cayenne pepper
Generous amount of ground black pepper
1. In a small bowl whisk together the dressing ingredients until completely combined. Set aside.
2. In a larger bowl, combine the kale, garbanzo beans, onions & carrots. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss together until everything is completely coated. Serve immediately or if you prefer softer kale, allow to rest for about 10 minutes before enjoying. Serve as an entree or as a side, but most importantly, enjoy!