I’ve Got a Secret


There are secrets in every marriage, and ours is no different. Jenny has a leather-bound, blue diary she keeps by the bed, and its contents, after almost 20 years of knowing her, remain a total mystery to me. The other day, when I logged into my iTunes account, I discovered that someone — i.e. my wife — had purchased six Maroon 5 singles, and not because the kids asked her to. (“It’s good workout music,” she claims.) Who knows what lies within the human heart? As for me, I’m guilty, too: Jenny will never understand my secret belief that, if I just had enough time to really dedicate myself, I could maybe have a second career as a midfielder in the English Premier League; that I once pretended to be asleep when one of the kids woke up, vomiting, and needed a bed change; and that the “secret dressing” I make every single time for our kale salad is not that mysterious after all.

Raw kale salad has become the family dinner staple for us. I’m not exactly sure when we switched over, but I almost can’t remember the last time we had a basic romaine or mesclun salad. I’m not lying when I say we eat this stuff at least four times a week. It’s one of those rare sides that seems to work for every meal: with burgers on a Tuesday night after soccer practice, with grilled shrimp when doing penance for a week of gorging on vacation, or with a roasted leg of lamb on a Saturday night when a bunch of friends come over for dinner and we bust out the cloth napkins. It’s often met with some skepticism — adults: “You just eat it raw?”; kids: “What is this stuff?” — until they taste it.

“Mmm, what’s in this salad, Jenny?” our guests ask Jenny. (They always ask Jenny.)

“Well, kale, pomegranate seeds, a little red onion, some herbs…” she’ll say, trailing off. “But I’m not sure what’s in the dressing.”

What’s in the dressing, for whatever reason, has become a closely guarded secret in our house. The truth  — as evidenced by this blog post — is that it’s not a secret at all. I think it’s maybe more a matter of Jenny not wanting to bother making it herself. “Can you make your special dressing?” she’ll ask, a few minutes before our guests come over and she’s breaking out the cocktail shaker. “Sure,” I’ll say, “But it’s easy. I can show you if you want to make it yourself.” But I know she doesn’t really want to. I’ve come to think of it as the kind of secret that keeps the spark alive. — Andy

Pomegranate Kale Salad
There are three important things to know about a raw kale salad. One, you need sweetness. Two, you need to cut the leaves into ribbons — nice and thin — and, three, you need to dress it in advance, as the acid in the vinegar helps break down the chewy stiffness of the kale. (You might also try Dash & Bella’s massaging trick.) This recipe calls for pomegranate molasses, but if you don’t have that, or you can’t find it, you can substitute agave or a pinch or two of sugar.

Vinaigrette
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup good olive oil
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar (we get ours at Trader Joe’s)
1 1/2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses
1 teaspoon Sriracha
juice from about a quarter of a lime

Salad
1 bunch lacinato kale (also called Tuscan or dinosaur kale), stems removed, leaves cut into 1/4 inch ribbons
handful pomegranate seeds
2 tablespoons finely minced red onion
handful finely chopped fresh herbs such as dill, cilantro, or parsley (or any combo of the three)
salt and pepper

In a jar or measuring cup, whisk together all the vinaigrette ingredients until emulsified. Toss vinaigrette with the salad, then top the whole thing with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Salad shown above with Turkey Hoisin Burgers from Dinner: The Playbook.

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19 Comments

The Prestigious School

I sometimes get my husband to make something by blaming his perfectionist tendency. “Honey, you know I won’t make this exactly the way you like it…” After 20+ years, though, he is on to me. Foiled again.

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Am

Yum! We’ve been making a raw kale salad with a mustard/garlic/oregano/red wine vinegar/evoo/lemon dressing. One day the kale was really tough so we briefly charred it under the broiler before we dressed it, and so that’s now our new “classic”.

Definitely going to give your dressing a try!

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Awads

What would you substitute for pomegranate seeds now that pomegrantes are out of season?

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Vicki

I didn’t have pomegranate seeds either so I made this with green apples and craisins, and loved it. My first time making it, so I can’t speake to the original, but it’s going on repeat at our house!

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Jamie | Jamie's Recipes

It is fun to have secrets like this. My husband makes the best stove popped popcorn. I know he doesn’t do anything extraordinarily special but it always tastes better when he makes it. I love pomegranate molasses and can’t wait to use it when making this dressing.

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Mary Beth

This is such a fun post! I don’t grill. Not because I can’t, but because my husband can! We will have to try this salad ASAP.

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Heather

LOL! You need to have those secrets! My husband has many in the kitchen. Sometimes he lets me in on them. Otherwise, the fact that it’s his specialty makes it one less thing for me to do.

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Jess

How far in advance should the salad be dressed? I just can’t get anyone on board with kale salad because it’s too chewy. Maybe this is our game-changer!

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Nicole @ thejameskitchen

Well, now it’s settled, I was thinking about burgers tomorrow too and would give my six new larding needles for a bunch of kale. It is such a staple and I could not imagine my life without it anymore. Come the first ray of spring sunshine, kale disappears here from the face of the earth, aka markets, lucky you. I am switching to green mango salad now.

Great way to have this kind of spiel, it does keep the spark alive – in our house it’s my husband’s ability to make the best morning cappucino for breakfast and even if mine would be better, I would never ever ever say so.

Nicole

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A Life From Scratch

Love this! It’s just like getting the steaks ready in our home. My husband will ask me to prep them ‘but you do it so much better!’ I could very well handle plopping them on the cutting board to come to room temp and patting on our rub but again……it’s just, well, nice when he does it!

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Adelle F.

I make a massaged kale salad with an Asian dressing that I could easily eat 3 meals a day. SO good.

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Gunter

Sugar or agave for pomegranate molasses? We use it all the time, mostly in cocktails. It is mostly sour, not sweet. Molasses in texture/consistency, not in sweet. Not sure about substitute, maybe reduced orange juice (likely not a good solution, just thinkin’)

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Wendy R.

I like to dress my kale salad with either lemon+olive oil+garlic or red wine vinegar+olive oil+Dijon. Dressing ahead of time and a bit of massaging make a big difference!

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Carole

I’d love to try this dressing, but I haven’t been able to find pomegranate molasses. Where do you buy yours?

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Kristin

I simplified by: skipping the herbs and pomegranate seeds (kale and red onion only), subbing brown sugar for the pom molasses and skipping the sriracha. Still delicious. Thanks for the inspiration. (I’ve also made this in the past with kale, balsamic, olive oil and a tsp of sugar, nothing else. That was good too, but this is better.)

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