Hands on.

In general, I try not be a judgy Mcjudger…there are lots of perfectly acceptable ways to do things in the kitchen, and in life. To each, his or her own. But sometimes I watch people struggle with tongs and forks and pastry blenders and wonder why they aren’t using just their hands. I may be really appreciative that you’ve invited me to dinner, but I’ll silently judge your choice to make such a hot mess with 17 different gadgets instead of just using your hands.

Hands are a cook’s best tool. See, e.g., Ina Garten, Alton Brown, Irma Rombauer.

A non-exhaustive list of kitchen tasks best accomplished with clean hands:

1.Tossing salad
2.Coating vegetables with oil and seasonings before roasting
3.Cutting butter into flour for flakey pastries, like biscuits and pie crusts
4.Determining the done-ness of grilling or sauteing chicken or meat.
5.Determining whether soft baked goods, likes cakes and quick breads are done
6.Shucking corn
7.De-ribbing hearty greens like kale and collards
8.Adding meatballs to sauce
9.Stuffing a turkey or chicken
10.Kneading bread

You’ll need to get your hands into this winner of a salad. I don’t think there is any other way to break down the kale into the crisp-tender incarnation of itself without really getting your fingers in there. And it is *so* good….sweet, creamy, crunchy, verdant……and bursting with clean-eating cred. It’s a very fine way to get your kale on.

Start with a big pile of kale.

Use your hands to remove the stems, then tear or slice into bite-sized pieces. Add to a large bowl, along with an avocado, some salt, some garlic, and a little bit of honey. Squeeze a lemon into the bowl, then go for it.



Work the kale for a solid 3-5 minutes, until it darkens and shrinks to about half of its original volume.

Toss in some tasty bits- I used walnuts and dried cranberries, but consider almonds and slivers of dried apricot, or crunchy radishes and creamy bits of goat cheese, or sesame seeds and golden raisins and grated beets. Then wash your hands (was that so bad?) and serve….now, or later. This salad holds up very well in the fridge, for a few days at least. It never lasts more than a day or two at my house.

Massaged Kale Salad with Creamy Avocado

inspired by a recipe from my friend Rebecca T.

1 bunch kale
1 ripe avocado
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 clove garlic, finely minced or grated
1-2 tsp honey
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup toasted walnuts

Wash kale, remove stems and chop. Place in large bowl with avocado, salt, garlic, honey, and lemon juice. Massage kale until dark green and tender, about 3-5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and toss together. Serve at room temperature.

1 Comment

  • By Karen Harris, August 21, 2013 @ 7:43 pm

    I’ve never massaged kale, but now I’ve got the bug. This recipe looks like a good one to start with. Love how it kind of makes its own dressing. Sounds great.

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