Peanut lovers like me, who never tire of those crunchy, nutty-tasting wonders, always gravitate toward recipes that include them in any form. I’m also an avid fan of kale, raw or cooked. So I thought why not combine peanuts and kale. How could I miss?
Slowly, another kale salad was beginning to take shape, but was still in the process of creative cultivation and ripening. What would the dominant flavor be? Would it be sweet, tart, savory, or a pungent kaleidoscope of all those flavors.
The decision ultimately fell onto my taste buds. They were craving a kale salad with a taste-popping dressing that could be defined as sweet and sour, but also yearned for something pungent with a strong umami edge. That magical blend of flavors spoke to me from far-away places like Thailand or possibly Indonesia, where sweet and sour sauces are king and crafted so well.
Starting with a crunchy peanut butter, I found it really easy to assemble a sweet and sour dressing within minutes. Smooth peanut butter would be all right, too, but I love the texture of those little tidbits of chopped peanuts that deliver a petite crunch with every forkful of the bite-size kale leaves. All I needed was a bowl, a wire whip, a measuring cup, and some measuring spoons. My feet sprung into action and led me instantly to “kitchenland”–my favorite little creative nook.
I chose to include another ingredient, low-fat coconut milk, to lend richness to the dressing. It would certainly have been richer still with a thick coconut cream or full-fat coconut milk, but a little restraint delivered great flavor and far less fat, especially saturated fat, and fewer calories, for sure.
I learned a little secret from a raw chef who makes heavenly kale salad. In working with raw kale to make it a little softer to the palate and to best infuse the dressing throughout, he lovingly and patiently massages the dressing into the kale pieces before adding other ingredients. The results are unmatched! The pampered kale salad becomes a divine symphony, rich with flavor notes and innovatively embellished with a chorus of sweet fruits and crunchy veggies.
Enjoy the recipe along with the great health benefits from two highly nutritious gifts of nature–kale and peanuts.
BANGKOK KALE WITH PEANUT DRESSING
Yield: 4 servings
1 large bunch kale, ribs removed, torn into bite-size pieces
3/4 cup crunchy, unsalted peanut butter
1/2 cup low-fat coconut milk
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 1/4 cups chopped or whole tangerine segments
1 cup sliced hearts of palm or quartered, water-packed artichoke hearts
2 Persian cucumbers, quartered
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1. Place the prepared kale into a large, deep bowl and set aside.
2. To prepare the Peanut Dressing, combine the peanut butter, coconut milk, lime juice, maple syrup, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and cayenne in a medium bowl and mix well with a wire whip until creamy and well blended.
3. Measure 3/4 cup of the Peanut Dressing and pour it over the kale. With clean hands, mix and massage the dressing into the kale until it is well incorporated and the kale is well coated. Refrigerate the remaining dressing for another salad.
4. Add the tangerines, hearts of palm, and cucumbers and toss well. Divide into 4 salad plates and garnish with the diced red bell peppers.
Leftover Peanut Dressing
This dressing is so tasty you won’t need to wonder what to do with the leftovers. Here are a few ideas:
Tuck it into the fridge and pour it over next day’s steamed veggies.
Dress another salad.
Use it as a dressing over a pita sandwich filled with bean burgers and veggies.
Pour it over coleslaw and toss well.