We love the earthy flavor of uncooked kale, but the texture of raw kale can be a little tough.
Many recipes call for tossing it with dressing and letting it tenderize in the fridge overnight. This method didn't deliver the tender leaves we were after, and the long sitting time wasn't very convenient.
Luckily, we found another technique that worked better and faster: massaging. Squeezing and massaging the kale broke down the cell walls in much the same way that heat would, darkening the leaves and turning them silky. Caramelized roasted sweet potatoes, shredded radicchio, crunchy pecans, a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, and a sweet pomegranate vinaigrette turned our salad into a hearty meal.
If you can't find pomegranate molasses, you can make your own. Tuscan kale (also known as dinosaur or Lacinato kale) is more tender than curly-leaf and red kale; if using curly-leaf or red kale, increase the massaging time to 5 minutes. Do not use baby kale.
KALE SALAD WITH SWEET POTATOES AND POMEGRANATE VINAIGRETTE
Start to finish: 1 hour
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
12 ounces Tuscan kale, stemmed and sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide strips (7 cups)
1/2 head radicchio (5 ounces), cored and sliced thin
1/3cup pecans, toasted and chopped
Shaved Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 small shallot, minced
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Salt and pepper
1/4cup extra-virgin olive oil
For the salad: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 F. Toss sweet potatoes with oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange potatoes in single layer in rimmed baking sheet and roast until browned, 25 to 30 minutes, flipping potatoes halfway through roasting. Transfer to plate and let cool for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, vigorously squeeze and massage kale with hands until leaves are uniformly darkened and slightly wilted, about 1 minute.
For the vinaigrette: Whisk water, pomegranate molasses, shallot, honey, vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together in large bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in oil.
Add potatoes, kale, and radicchio to vinaigrette and gently toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to serving platter and sprinkle with pecans and shaved Parmesan to taste. Serve.