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It’s a darn good thing that I’ve always been committed to cooking healthy, nutritious meals for my family since Day 1, because now it’s a life or death call to action. If I hadn’t been interested in health and nutrition since I was a teenager eating brewer’s yeast (what teen does that?), been eliminating processed foods, sugar, and salt from our diet for over a decade, and making home-cooked meals nearly every night, then the recent turn of events would seem like an almost insurmountable task.
(To qualify the overused and often misused words “healthy and nutritious”, I mean balanced meals that include protein, carbs with fiber from whole grains and lots of fresh vegetables – many from our garden – and fruits with very few foods from a can, box, or jar.)
The reason why it’s a darn good thing is it’s making the adaptation to my husband’s cardiologist-mandated strict low-sodium diet a little less brutal than if we were in the habit of drive-through breakfasts, fast food lunches, or takeout dinners on a regular basis. And, it’s still been tough because, although I diligently read labels, its amazing how insidious sodium is until you’re trying to consume less than 2,000 milligrams a day! A few slices of deli turkey (920 mg) with low-cal mayo (125 mg) between two slices of whole wheat bread (320 – 160 for each slice) with NO cheese, sounds pretty healthy, but has a whopping 1365 mg of sodium, nearly all of his daily recommended allowance of 1500 mg, and that’s just lunch! Fortunately, I discovered Low-Sodium Ezekiel bread which has 0 sodium and The Don is enjoying avocado, tomato, and cucumber veggie sandwiches several days a week.
But let’s get to today’s recipe which I found online at L.A. Times Food after reading a very interesting article on how restaurants are cutting back on salt and hoping you won’t notice it. I was looking for a creative recipe for the kale that I picked up when shopping for ingredients for my Farmers Market Makeover entry and this was a unique take on kale salad. I loved how crispy the charred edges were – kind of like eating kale chips, and the tangy yogurt dressing was deliciously refreshing with a satisfying crunch from the hazelnuts.
Grilled Kale with Yogurt Dressing and Toasted Hazelnuts
From L.A. Times Test Kitchen – Adapted from Travis Lett of Gjelina
Total time: 25 minutes Yield: 4 servings
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 shallot, very thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
10 mint leaves, chopped
¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided use
3-4 tablespoons red wine vinegar, or to taste
Freshly ground pepper
½ cup raw hazelnuts (skin on)
2 bunches Russian kale, stems removed*
*Lett suggests Russian kale, I used organic Lacinato kale (also known as Tuscan, Dinosaur and Black kale) purchased at the farmers market.
1. Heat the oven (or toaster oven) to 350 degrees. Heat your grill to medium-high heat or a grill pan over medium-high heat until hot.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine the yogurt, shallot, garlic, mint, ¼ cup olive oil, red wine vinegar, and ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper. This makes about 1½ cups dressing, more than is needed for this recipe. The dressing will keep for up to 3 days, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
3. Place the hazelnuts on a rimmed cookie sheet and toast in the oven until fragrant and golden, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer the hazelnuts to a clean, damp kitchen towel and rub to remove the skins. Chop roughly and set aside.
4. Place the greens in a bowl and lightly coat with the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Place the greens on the grill until edges are slightly charred, 1-2 minutes depending on how hot your grill is. Move the greens around to avoid burning and continue wilting for another minute or so.
They should be slightly charred on the edges and softened in the middle.
Remove the greens to a large bowl or platter. Top with desired amount of dressing and sprinkle with hazelnuts. Serve immediately.