The book:  Wild About Greens, by Nava Atlas (Sterling, $24.95 here’s my complete review)

The recipe:  Asian-flavored kale and napa slaw

Why I tried it: I’d never tried massaging kale before (though the technique sounded vaguely familiar), and we had a ton of kale in the garden.  I thought the familiar-looking Asian-y vinaigrette was a good way to ease my way into the sketchy underworld of brassica massage…Oh, instead of agave nectar I used brown rice syrup because I happened to have it around.  Honey would work fine too.

Why I loved it:  This is one of those salads that pretty much goes with anything, and it’s super-fast to make.  The carrots and the sprouts and the seeds keep it crunchy and textural, and there’s none of the bitter taste you expect from raw kale; just a sense of ruggedness.  You end up with a good-looking bowl of vivid green that holds beautifully, by the way,  if you’re taking it to a party somewhere.

Estimated preparation time: 15 minutes (plus 15 minutes standing time for the flavors to absorb)   =================================================

Asian-Flavored Kale & Napa Cabbage Slaw
6 to 8 servings

You can also massage the kale with a little bit of kosher salt instead of the oil – it works just as well and helps develop the flavor.

For the dressing:
1 tablespoon olive oil or other healthy vegetable oil
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
2 tablespoons vinegar (apple cider, rice, or white wine)
2 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce or tamari
2 tablespoons agave nectar or other liquid sweetener

For the salad:
5 or 6 leaves kale, preferably lacinato (curly kale will work too)
3 cups firmly packed thinly shredded napa cabbage
1 cup grated carrots
1 cup sprouts, any variety
1/4 cup toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds, or 1/8 cup of each
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
Freshly ground pepper to taste

1.  Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together.

2.  Strip the kale leaves from the stems. Slice the stems very thinly or discard. Cut the kale leaves into very thin strips and place in a large serving bowl. Oil your hands lightly and massage the kale for 30 to 45 seconds, until the leaves are bright green and soft.

3. Add the remaining salad ingredients, then toss well with the dressing. Let the salad stand for 15 -minutes. Taste and adjust the tang, saltiness, and sweetness with more vinegar, soy sauce, or sweetener to your liking, then serve.

Reprinted with permission from Wild About Greens © 2012 by Nava Atlas, Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.