Green is the new black.
At least in the food world.
Kale, Swiss chard, spinach, arugula. They’re everywhere, in just about every recipe. This is a good thing.
And it’s even better since I learned the wonders of raw, massaged kale. Cooked kale and I are not best buds (thanks to a childhood incident involving kale kielbasa stew and worms. There may have been dry-heaving — I’m not admittin’ nothin’ — there was definitely crying).
Raw kale, however, can pose some challenges. (Ditto, Swiss chard.) It’s tough and fibrous, unpleasantly chewy (or as Russ Parsons describes in the link above, it practically leaves “splinters between your teeth”). Massaging the thick leaves of kale or chard by rubbing them together between your fingers with a bit of olive oil or salt not only softens them for the better, but also somehow sweetens the often bitter greens. Seriously. Sweet.
(I do believe it’s magic — I know I feel far less bitter after a massage, but I have no idea why kneading the bejeebers out of your muscles makes that so. Magic.)
Raw spinach is not nearly as tough as kale, but still benefits from a quick massage — better than blanching, with no nutrients leached into the boiled water. Spinach might not be the “it” green compared to kale, but it’s tops in my book.
And in this salad.
Spinach, eggs, grains, fresh garden veggies … and harissa. The happy surprise for me in this recipe was impact of the harissa, the only condiment in this salad. A full tablespoon made me nervous — hot! — but it was just the right balance of spice and heat.
This salad has made my summer’s regular rotation. As I always have cooked rice on hand, dinner comes together in under a half hour.
As we move into fall — can you believe how fast the summer’s going? — and new batches of greens appear at the markets and in CSA boxes, remember the wonders of massage.
Spinach, egg & harissa chopped salad
adapted from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson
In Super Natural, Heidi says she makes a spinach and egg chop as a snack. I took it further, adding grains and more veggies, to bump it up to meal status, plus giving the spinach a raw treatment instead of cooking it. This will be a summer-autumn regular in Casa de SoupAddict, substituting seasonal vegetables and greens as the year progresses (char-grilled corn would be fabulous, I think). For an extra boost of nutrition, sprinkle hemp and/or chia seeds over the salad.
1 pound spinach leaves, tough and long stems removed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (plus more for drizzling)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon harissa
2 cups cooked farro, brown rice, quinoa, or your favorite (a combo is nice)
4 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
1 medium carrot or 2 baby carrots, chopped into fine dice
1 scallion, thinly sliced
4 or 5 basil leaves, sliced chiffonade
1 palmful pepitas
sea salt, as needed
1. Place the spinach leaves in a large, roomy bowl and drizzle a bit of olive oil over the top — not too much, less than a tablespoon. Add a pinch of salt. Using your fingers, massage the leaves together until they begin to shrink and wilt. Finely chop the leaves and set aside.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the garlic and harissa and cook for about a minute, until fragrant (don’t overcook). Remove pan from heat and stir in the spinach, grains, eggs, carrots, scallions, basil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Toss gently to combine well. Taste and add more salt if needed. Serve warm or at room temperature.