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Cooking with JoJo: Variety is the spice of life with this wilted kale salad

Staff Reports • Aug 7, 2018 at 4:17 PM

Salads…the word evokes boring plates or bowls of lots of iceberg lettuce topped with the usual suspects like shredded carrots, processed cheese, chopped boiled eggs and on and on. 

For this recipe, I wanted something that shied away from the norm. With summer winding down slowly, citrus fruits are getting sweeter and sweeter. My inspiration for this recipe came from a recent visit to the local flea market and sampling some amazing tangerines and oranges. 

These, along with some of the biggest jalapeno peppers I have ever seen and my usual load of fresh kale, I rushed home for this incredible salad I enjoyed while the sun went down on the back deck. Kale can be quite bitter and unappealing if eaten raw, so for this salad, wilting the kale so it is more tender and absorbs the delicious citrus vinaigrette, makes this not only a nutritious salad, but also one you’ll come back to again and again. If you’re avoiding dairy, the feta is optional, and without it, the salad is still amazing.

What you’ll need:

• 1 bunch kale, stems removed, roughly chopped.

• 2 tangerines, segmented.

• 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced, seeds optional.

• ¼ cup dried cranberries.

• ¼ cup chopped walnuts.

• 3 strips sugar-free bacon, fried and chopped.

• ¼ cup feta cheese.

Citrus raspberry vinaigrette 

• ½ cup fresh raspberries.

• ¼ fresh squeezed orange juice.

• 1 tsp. lime juice.

• 1 tsp. lemon juice.

• ¼ cup olive oil.

• pinch of salt and pepper.

• pinch of ground cumin.

In a hot pan, add a ¼ cup of water and quickly add chopped kale and stir quickly until slightly wilted. Remove from the pan onto your serving plate and allow it to cool. 

In a food processor or blender, add all ingredients for the dressing with the exception of the olive oil. Turn the blender or food processor on low and add slowly the olive oil and allow it to emulsify. Depending on the type of olive oil you use, whether it is a first-pressed, richer oil, you may need to adjust the level of orange juice in the mix. Most first-pressed olive oils, while a bit more expensive, yield a nuttier flavor than a less-expensive olive oil. 

After the dressing is made, allow it to cool in the fridge while you build your salad. Starting with the kale greens as the base, toss the cranberries and nuts and give it a stir to incorporate. Finish with sugar-free bacon bits, tangerine segments and feta. 

The surprise to the taste buds in this recipe is the thinly sliced jalapenos. I prefer to leave the seeds in for the added heat. This salad will have your taste buds dancing between the refreshing citrus, rich wilted kale, saltiness of the feta and the bite of the peppers. Enjoy.

Cooking since he could pull a chair up to the stove at 5 years old, Joey Morasse, of Lebanon, is the owner and operator of JoJo’s Barbecue and Catering. He is also a personal chef and offers in-home cooking classes.

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