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.
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
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.