I used to think kale was only used for garnish. I mean, really, who eats that stuff?! I don’t know about you, but I am not a fan of plain ol’ raw kale. It’s bitter and tough and has a terrible aftertaste. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to transform this super nutritious leafy green. A little lemon, a little olive oil, some salt/pepper and of course, TLC in the form of massage (yes, that’s right—massage) and suddenly kale is not only tolerable, it’s delicious. Especially when you toss in fresh blackberries and toasted coconut-pecan clusters. Now we’re talkin’.
My aunt Gloria has always been the queen of gardening. Recently she told me about her abundance of kale—then she asked me what to do with it. So I rattled off a few ideas…add it to smoothies, salads of course, soups, finely chopped and “hidden” in burgers, casseroles, tacos, etc. Honestly, you can sneak kale into just about anything. If I have extra kale, I wash it, dry it, de-stem it, tear it into bite-sized pieces it and freeze it. Then I can toss a handful in a smoothie. Or toss the whole bag in a pot of soup. It’s great for juicing, too—stem and all.
So, Aunt G, this salad is for you. I hope you like it.
For those of you who are totally anti-kale, try spinach instead. And if blackberries aren’t readily available, try raspberries, strawberries or blueberries—or all of the above. Dried cherries would be great as well. No pecans on hand? Walnuts will work, too.
These toasted coconut-pecan clusters are amazeballs. In fact, it’s kind of hard not to eat ’em all right off the pan. Sweet, salty, nutty, and perfectly crunchy. More, please. They would make a great hostess gift during the holidays. Fill up a small canning jar, tie on some festive ribbon and you’re good to go. Oh, and your house will smell heavenly while they are baking.
If you have trouble finding unsweetened coconut flakes, try your local health food store or order online.
Kale is high in calcium, iron and vitamins K, A & C.
Kale is loaded with antioxidants.
Kale is a great anti-inflammatory food.
Kale is great for cardiovascular support.
And the list goes on, but really, isn’t that enough? Go eat some kale!
- 1½ cups pecan halves
- 1 Tbsp vegan buttery spread, such as Earth Balance, melted
- ½ Tbsp brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp maple syrup
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp coarse sea salt
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- ½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- I bunch kale, washed, dried, de-stemmed
- juice from half a lemon
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ tsp coarse sea salt
- ⅛ tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 1 pint fresh blackberries (or raspberries or sliced strawberries)
- Preheat oven to 375°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. To make TOASTED COCONUT-PECAN CLUSTERS, add all cluster ingredients (except coconut flakes) to large bowl; stir until well combined. Gently fold in coconut flakes. Spread mixture on lined baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until coconut is toasted light golden brown. Set aside, allow to cool at least 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare salad. Tear or chop kale into bite-sized pieces. Add kale, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to large bowl. Gently massage mixture with hands about 1 minute, until kale becomes tender and thoroughly coated. Depending on the size of your bunch of kale, you may need to add more lemon juice, olive oil and s/p.
- When pecan mixture has cooled, break into clusters. To plate salad, create a bed of kale, then top with blackberries and toasted coconut-pecan clusters. Store leftover clusters in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.