I was late to board the Kale Train. It’s one of those trendy foods that has flooded the markets and Top 10 Healthy Foods lists for the last few years, and with good reason. Kale really is one of the healthiest things you can eat, and a quick Google search will give you a bevy of reasons why.
Despite all those reasons, it took me a while to actually try eating it. My excuse? It’s a lame one.
No, I didn’t avoid it because it was trendy. I didn’t avoid it because it was a vegetable. Nope, the reason it took me so long to try it was simply because of it’s name. Kale.
My middle name is Cayle. Spelt differently, but phonetically the same.
I was Cayle before Kale was cool.
This may seem like an incredibly silly reason not to eat something, but hear me out. Kale really started becoming a well known food item back when I was in my late teens, back when I actually cared what people thought of me (ah, to be 17).
I was ridiculously embarrassed that my middle name was a vegetable. And not a cool vegetable, like vibrant and delicious rhubarb, but a green, leafy, slightly bitter one. You have to understand, when I thought of kale I thought of lettuce, and more specifically, watery, boring, iceburg lettuce.
Chelsea Cayle Kelso. Chelsea Eat-Your-Veggies Kelso.
“You’re middle name is…Cayle?” they would all ask, a look of pure confusion spreading across their face. “….Like, the vegetable?”
Yes, dammit. Like the vegetable. God, mom, OF ALL THE THINGS you could have put between my first and last names. Why you gotta play me like that?
Now I think it’s kind of a kick-ass name, and I love it. It makes me picture my altar ego as some superhero-esque food bandit who steals food from the rich and gives to the poor. But back then? Back then it was the worst.
It’s crazy what a few years can do to rocket your self-esteem. As you get older, I’ve noticed, you tend to stop worrying about potential embarrassment, or judgement from others.
You know how it is, when you’re fresh outta high school, you think you’re an adult, you censor what you say and abhor the thought of embarrassing yourself in front of people you know, or worse, strangers. Those days pass, and eventually you realize that life’s too short to worry about any of that crap. Who cares if people judge you for wearing your pyjamas to walk your dog. Who cares if people laugh at your vegetable-name. Own it.
So this is me owning it. Today’s post features the lovely guest star: Kale.
This salad is not only packed with all that good-for-you-kale-ness, but it tastes just as good as a classic, creamy, crunchy caesar salad. This is mostly because of the dressing, which may not be the healthiest, but it’s deliciously tart and tangy and creamy enough to counter the slight bitterness of the fresh kale. Top it with some homemade, seasoned croutons and some juicy marinated grilled chicken and you have a well balanced, satisfying meal that’s easy enough to whip up mid-week.
I love caesar salad. I used to order it all the time when I went out for dinner, until I realized that restaurant salads aren’t necessarily healthy and their dressing is packed with who knows what. At least when you make it at home you actually know what you’re making, and what’s going into your body.
You can customize the dressing to your taste. Use light mayo for a healthier option. I prefer my caesar salads a tangier and more lemony rather than heavy and creamy, but feel free to add more mayo/oil until it’s the consistency you desire.
Here’s a couple tips:
- Let the chicken marinate for as long as possible, up to overnight. The longer it sits, the more flavourful your chicken will be. It’s worth the extra prep!
- When rinsing your kale, break it into small, bite-sized pieces and gently massage the leaves with your hands. It may sound strange, but rubbing the leaves together for 5 or so minutes helps break down the cellular structure of the leaves and will make them smooth and silky, as opposed to stiff and bitter. You’ll see the leaves shrink in size, turn a shade darker, and become silkier. Trust me on this, rub that kale!
|Grilled Chicken Kale Caesar Salad|| |
- 5 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- ½ tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp red chili flakes
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- ½ cup light mayo
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- ½ cup olive oil
- 6 cups day-old bread, cubed in 1" pieces
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 bunch fresh kale
- 3 chicken breasts
- Lemon wedge, for garnish
- To marinate the chicken, combine all ingredients in a large ziploc bag. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Seal the bag and store in the fridge for as long as you can, preferably overnight.
- To make the dressing, whisk together all ingredients except the olive oil until smooth. Slowly add in the olive oil, whisking until thoroughly combined. Store in the fridge until ready to use.
- To make the croutons, preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil; set aside. In a large bowl, combine bread, seasoning, and olive oil and toss until all bread pieces are coated. Transfer to prepared baking tray and bake for 15 minutes until lightly browned and crispy. Remove from oven and set aside.
- Heat grill to medium high heat. BBQ the chicken breasts, 10 minutes per side, until fully cooked and juices run clear. Remove from grill, let cool slightly, then slice into strips; set aside.
- Wash kale leaves: remove the thick rib/stem and break into bite-sized pieces. Rinse with water and gently "massage" the kale - by rubbing the leaves together - for 5 or so minutes. This will break down the kale and soften it, making it less bitter to the taste. You should see the leaves wilt in your hands.
- In a large bowl, combine kale and dressing; toss to coat. Add in croutons and serve topped with a few slices of chicken and a lemon wedge for garnish.