Kale does not come out of the ground ready to eat. It may be tough and bland, but it’s also bitter! These shortcomings, however, make it a great make-ahead lunch salad, you just have to apply some pressure.
Traditionally, kale is softened with a little massage and maybe some oil and salt. (It also helps to remove the tough stems.) But if you don’t want to spend your time rubbing a bunch of leaves — and you have a vacuum sealer — I’d like you to consider the vacuum-sealed salad, which is the laziest, easiest way to tenderise and flavour the sturdy plant parts.
The process is easy: Toss as much kale as you like into a vacuum bag, add some salt and some sort of dressing, them pull out as much air as you can and seal the bag (using the “moist setting” so as not to remove all of your dressing). Pop that bag in the fridge overnight, and prep any toppings you might like to add the next day in a separate container.
Take the kale out the next morning, and try not to freak out when you notice that — if you used an olive oil-based dressing — your dressing has solidified. This is fine, just toss the salad into your bag. By the time lunch rolls around, the oil will be liquid once more.
Throw the rest of the toppings on there, and enjoy.
For one serving of vacuum salad, you will need:
1/2 a bunch of kale, ribs removed and cut into bite-sized pieces (I did not remove my kale ribs because I spaced out and chopped the kale before I remembered to remove them. Don’t be like me.)
2 big pinches of salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice (or some other acid)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
Any other flavourful things you’d like to add to your dressing (herbs, garlic powder, cheap shaker parm, any other spice, etc.)
Toss the salt and kale together in a bowl and set aside. Add the remaining ingredient to the vacuum bag, and squish it around with your hands to emulsify. (You can also whisk and then pour the dressing into the bottom of the bag, but it’s fun to squish.)
Place the kale in the bag on top of the dressing then, using the moist setting, vacuum seal the bag according to the manufacturer’s instructions to soften the leaves and infuse them with flavour. Toss the bag in the fridge overnight, then enjoy the next day. This salad can be made three days ahead of time, though it will get softer with each passing day.