Winter guacamole salad with massaged kale
Are you tired of kale yet? I sure hope not. Kale still grows in abundance in Ohio, and is the star of our winter farmers’ markets. Grocery stores have hopped on board, too, and varieties of kale occupy two full racks in the greens section.
Oh! I bought a juicer. I’m so excited! (It arrives tomorrow — yay for Amazon Prime!) As a devoted fan of green smoothies, I’m looking forward to expanding my liquid veggie repertoire. Unlike smoothies, the juice from straight-up juiced vegetables can be stored in the fridge for a day or two without effect. That means I can juice in the evenings and take a big Thermos full (kept cold by juice ice cubes) to work and have veggie goodness nearby at all times — the antidote to the deluge of the ickiest of icky fast food restaurants that surround my office building. (Technically, a smoothie can be safely stored overnight, of course, but it tends to separate. And the smoothie — whatever color it was in its fresh, foamy state, green or purple — turns brown and somehow gritty. It really needs a blender to be revived.)
(I’ll be sure to fess up and report if the appliance gets relegated to the back of a cabinet.)
Anyway, we’re in the second half of January now — can you believe it? — and I still have warm-fuzzy feelings for kale. And spinach. Kale and spinach. Winter’s green super heroes.
I’ve had non-stop salad cravings since summer ended. I know how strange that sounds — who craves salads? I swear it’s true. Spinach or massaged kale topped with juicy veggies, and sometimes grains like quinoa or barley or freekeh. (What, you’ve never heard of the ancient grain, freekeh? Stay tuned, I’ll be posting about it shortly. And I will try my very best to restrain myself from painfully obvious word plays on “freekeh.”)
But this salad is one of my favorites. Guacamole, deconstructed, and served over kale that’s been massaged until sweet and silky. (Tough and fibery, massaging kale with your fingertips makes it easier to digest raw.)
A light citrus vinaigrette with fresh blood orange and lemon juices, plus lots of cilantro from my winter garden, is the perfect complement to this salad. The oranges are just gorgeous in January. Gorgeous. Yes, they came from afar, but I make the carbon-footprint exception for both citrus and avocados. How could I not?
(I am trying to do my part, though. I bought a dwarf blood orange tree last year, which is huddling right now in my garage, poor thing. It didn’t bloom this year, though — I suspect it was a year younger than the nursery claimed. Crossed-fingers for next year.)
I raided my freezer and snatched some summer preserves of silver queen corn and sweet bell peppers. True, they’re not traditional guacamole ingredients, but trust me, they fit right in like life-long friends.
Tip for buying winter tomatoes: Avoid the Florida-grown, perfectly round, weakly red cue balls. (Sorry, Florida: I love ya, just not your tomatoes or the industrial ag installations that grow them there (see Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit.)
Cherry and grape tomatoes aren’t bad in the winter. I bought greenhouse-grown Maine tomatoes at Whole Foods that were actually pretty good (and those are the very ones that went into this salad).
If you want to avoid winter tomatoes altogether, used canned diced tomatoes. Drain the liquid (save for other purposes – it would be great in a soup), and then rinse and drain the dices again, to wash off any salt or additives.
Better yet: you preserved some homegrown diced tomatoes last September? Perfect. Nothing like fresh, tomatoey flavors in a winter salad to bring back memories of the summer sun on one’s face.
Winter guacamole salad with massaged kale
- for the salad:
- 6-7 kale leaves, thick stems removed (I used lacinto/dinosaur kale)
- olive oil
- 1/2 small avocado, diced
- fresh lime juice (from about 1/2 lime)
- 3-6 cherry or grape tomatoes, diced
- 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 corn (thawed, if frozen)
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 1 tablespoon cilantro, minced (about 6 stems)
- for the citrus-cilantro vinaigrette:
- 2 tablespoons fresh blood orange juice (about 1/2 of an orange)
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 of a medium lemon)
- 1 tablepoon white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon minced cilantro
- for the salad: In a large bowl, tear the kale into bite-sized pieces. Drizzle with just a touch of olive and sprinkle very lightly with salt. Use your fingertips to rub the leaves, working in the oil and the salt. Keep massaging until the kale is soft and silky, and has turned a brighter green. Toss the avocado dices with lime juice and a big pinch of salt. Add the avocado, tomatoes, peppers, corn, green onions, and cilantro to the kale and toss well.
- for the vinaigrette: Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad and serve.