Today is National Kale Day. Kale has come a long way. Who would have thunk it? Remember when it was just a mere garnish for Shoney’s and Pizza Hut salad bars? Who knew that it was easy to grow and extremely bountiful? Who knew that it carried super powers that would make you feel fabulous about your body and soul after eating it? Who knew that it was even edible?
Even in the early days of kale’s coming out, I had trouble selling it. In the early 2000’s, the farm for our restaurant, Sugar Snap, was cranking out kale at an epic pace. I was putting out kale chips, kale fillings for burittos and frittatas, tons of garlic sauteed kale, red wine braised kale, and the ever popular cheesy kale bake. Kale was (and still is) a rock star of locally-grown crops in Vermont. I thought it was a Vermont thing.
Upon moving to North Carolina, I realized that the “Kale Kraze” was universal, and it had hit hard. My biggest seller at Chef Katie’s Cafe was the Kale and Sweet Potato Salad. I was processing a case a day. There are places where the most popular sandwiches have kale pesto as the main ingredient. Even at our local pizza joint, Marco’s, the “Kale Pizza Special” has been on the board since we moved to Asheville. I admit – it’s what I order every time – and its delicious. Let’s face it people – you can’t take kale down, King Kale cannot be beaten. Just face it, celebrate and embrace kale!
These Kale Tacos are gluten free, low calorie, ultra tasty, quite healthy, and easy to make. You can use any protein you like. I like to take chicken or turkey legs and braise them with green salsa and Mexican spices. You can also use the Mexican chicken from my previous post, Mexican Chicken Dinner Salad. Blanched kale is the base of the taco, taking the place of a tortilla. I top the kale “tortilla” and braised chicken with fresh sour slaw, apple salsa, and pickled jalapeno. The slaw and the apple salsa give the tacos a nice crunch. Cheese is optional.
Place vinegars, 2 tbsp kosher salt, and ground cumin into a saucepan. Bring to a simmer.
Thinly slice cabbages and add to a bowl.
Pour hot liquid over cabbage, mix well with tongs, and cover with a plate.
Place diced apples in a bowl. Add chopped onion, cilantro, pepper, and salt. Mix well. Squeeze the orange and lime into the mixture, discarding any seeds. Mix well. Meanwhile, bring a bot of salted water to a boil. Prepare a bowl of ice water. Dip the kale leaves in the boiling water, and immediately add to ice water. Remove leaves, gently wring out extra water, separate leaves, and drain on a clean kitchen towel.
Build tacos: Lay kale leaves down. Top with hot chicken or turkey, sour slaw, apple salsa, and then jalapeno. Enjoy!
Kale Tacos with Sour Slaw and Apple Salsa
Makes About Eight Tacos
2 cups cooked protein of choice (braised chicken or turkey, sliced seasoned chicken breast)
1 bunch lacinato kale
1/4 head red cabbage
1/4 head green cabbage
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp Diamond Krystal Kosher Salt
2 tsp ground cumin
2 fresh apples (Gala or Macintosh), peeled and diced small
1 fresh orange
1/2 fresh lime
1/4 cup finely chopped sweet yellow onion
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp Diamond Krystal Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup pickled jalapeno
1. Make slaw: Place vinegars, 2 tbsp kosher salt, and cumin in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Finely slice cabbages with a knife. Add cabbages to a bowl and pour hot vinegar liquid over the top. Toss the mixture well with tongs, and cover with a plate. Set aside.
2. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare a bowl of water with ice cubes. Carefully and quickly drop the kale leaves in the boiling water, and immediately remove with tongs, and dunk into the ice water. Wring the kale leaves out without ripping them. Separate the leaves and drain on a clean kitchen towel. Set aside.
3. Place diced apples in a bowl. Add sweet onion, cilantro, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, and mix well. Squeeze the orange and lime over the salsa, removing any seeds. Toss well.
4. Gently heat chicken, turkey, or other protein.
5. Build tacos. Lay kale leaves flat on a plate. Top with chicken, turkey, or other proten. Top with sour slaw, apple salsa, and pickled jalapeno.