Asian-inspired Kale & Shiitake Salad


I don’t like Kale. In fact, I don’t like cooked greens that much at all… but I know they are good for you. I tend to eat my greens raw… but I don’t like raw kale either. So imagine my dismay when I realized I forgot to check off kale on my Boston Organics “NO list”… and when I opened up this week’s box to see a big, leafy, pile of kale sitting right on top.

Sure, I could have tossed it right into the compost pile… but what about all the starving kids in Ethiopia? Plus… what about the amazing nutritional value that kale offers? No, I would cook the kale… right away… and figure out a recipe that would be tolerable.I poked around the ‘fridge, saw that I still had a pint of shiitake mushrooms from last week and decided that I would do some type of Asian-inspired dish — maybe paired with some garlic and black sesame seeds.

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I love black sesame seeds… I love their color, I love their taste, I love how they look as a garnish on Asian dishes. It was a no brainer that these would be a big theme in my yet-to-be-decided kale dish. I started pulling cookbooks and scouring indexes for recipes… but most contained some form of pork (bacon, pancetta, prosciutto)… why can’t you eat sauteed greens WITHOUT meat I ask you??? Do they taste that bad that you have to hide their flavor by drenching them in animal fat?

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Hmm… what book should I turn to? Which book will offer more than one kale recipe that doesn’t involve meat? Ahhh…. the Whole Foods Market Cookbook could be a winner… and, BINGO! Several kale recipes for the vegetarian wanna-be’s. There were two recipes in particular that caught my eye. I didn’t like either one 100%, so I decided to merge the two to create my own rendition.

Kale & Shiitake Salad

1 large bunch of Kale (about 1 lb)
1 dry pint shiitake mushrooms
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp minced ginger paste
3 tbsp black or tan sesame seeds
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp olive oil
Sake or rice wine for deglazing
Trader Joe’s Wasabi Sesame Drizzle Sauce (*if you can’t find this, you can make your own combination with canola oil, soy sauce, sesame oil, wasabi powder & mustard oil/powder)
Salt to taste

Prepare greens by first washing and then removing any thick portions of the stem. Chop remaining kale leaves into approx 2″ pieces.

Remove mushroom stems and slice shiitake caps into thin strips. Mince garlic.

Add olive oil and sesame oil to large skillet. Heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic, minced ginger and shiitake mushrooms; saute until cooked through and nicely browned. Remove ingredients from pan and set aside.

Deglaze pan with approximately 1/4 c of sake. Use spatula to scrape little bits off bottom… dissolving into sake. Add kale in batches, stirring to combine with liquid. Once all kale has been added and tossed a bit, cover until all greens begin to wilt… this will only take a few minutes. Once wilted to desired texture, remove from heat and allow to cool. You can also rinse the kale under cool water to finish more quickly — but you loose any additional flavor from the pan juices.

Once cool, squeeze remaining liquid out of kale, fluff with your hands or a fork and combine with mushroom mixture. Season liberally with salt and drizzle approximately 1 tbsp (or more) of the Trader Joe’s sauce on top. Add sesame seeds and toss to mix. Garnish with a few thin carrot strips.

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It looked good. It smelled good. Could kale actually taste good??? YES! In fact, I loved it! It was nutty, meaty (from the mushrooms) and extremely flavorful from the addition of sesame. It reminded me a lot of Wakamean Asian seaweed salad. It would pair very well with any grilled fish, tuna tartar or other sushi dish. And guess what? I actually got the 4-yo to try it! Of course, I had to bribe him with a chocolate chip cookie for a reward — and I had to tell him it was a “salad” — but he ate it none-the-less AND… he liked it! Okay, I admit it… I guess I DO like kale. I just don’t like the other ways I’ve had it prepared. For me, it’s all about Asian-style — with the sesame oil being a major component in my “liking it factor”.

So, in the end, I will not be removing kale from my Boston Organics list. Rather, I will keep a more open mind and try to find some other recipes to my liking.

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4 Comments to “Asian-inspired Kale & Shiitake Salad”

  1. Patricia says:

    Try this: Kale & Mushrooms w/Creamy Polenta. I seared scallops and put them on top. I didn’t think I’d like kale either although I admit that I enjoyed it much more the first time I tried the recipe than the second time.

    http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Kale-and-Mushrooms-with-Creamy-Polenta-233922

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