This Asian-style kale salad recipe is actually more about one of my favorite dressings that I adore with kale. I have so many different versions of this recipe ’cause it’s actually a winter staple that we eat in some variation once or twice a week for the entire Tuscan Lacinto kale season. Which sadly is way too short! So about the dressing… it’s all about garlic and ginger together with Japanese rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil, soya sauce, and a little of my favorite olive oil. The combination is a DREAM! And in this version, I like to serve it with Tuscan kale, short grain brown rice, and smoked tofu made with almonds and sesame seeds. Simple, filling, tasty.
There are SO many ways to adapt this Asian-style kale salad
You can add roasted almonds for crunch, or some fresh vegetables — like edamame, shredded carrots, cucumber, or sliced red pepper. Or how about giving orange segments a try? You can switch out brown rice for pearl barley and skip the tofu and add leftover turkey or grilled chicken breast. Or simply enjoy it on its own. Can’t find kale, try your favorite variety of green cabbage. The options are endless!
Massaging kale makes it more tender
Rubbing the kale, whether using Italian lacinto kale or curly kale, transforms its leaves into tender, silky greens that are perfect for a raw salad. As you rub it with olive oil, using your hands, the leaves darken and shrink in size and the texture becomes soft – and delicious! This method makes it possible to enjoy kale in so many new ways. Another one of my favorite ways to enjoy kale salad is tossed with a tahini dressing with either raw or roasted vegetables.
Asian-Style Kale Salad with Brown Rice and Smoked Tofu
For the salad:
- 3/4 cup brown short grain rice 150g
- 1 bunch of Tuscan lacinto kale, stemmed and torn into bite sized pieces (about 6 handfuls)
- 1/2-1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- Pinch of sea salt
- 1 x 200 g package smoked tofu, cubed (see tips below)
- Sesame seeds, to garnish
For the dressing:
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 tablespoon ginger, minced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar (Japanese)
- 1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
In a medium saucepan cook rice in double the amount of water for 35-40 minutes (according to package instructions). Set aside for 5 minutes, covered, then fluff with a fork.
Once the rice is halfway cooked, massage the kale with the olive oil and salt, until all the leaves are well coated and kale starts to soften and wilt, 2-3 minutes (a little longer if using curly kale). Let this mixture “marinate” for 15 minutes, so the kale leaves have extra time to soften.
In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients until well combined.
Pour the dressing over the marinated kale, toss to combine. Add the rice and tofu, toss well. Sprinkle with sesame seeds as garnish. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!
- For this recipe, you can also use a mix of curly kale, redbor kale, and Tuscan lacinato kale. I recommend Taifun smoked tofu with almonds and sesame seeds. It's my absolute favorite. You can find it in organic food stores.
- I prefer Japanese rice vinegar since it is not as strong as the Chinese produced vinegars. Look for it in your local Asian supermarket.
Unseasoned rice vinegar (Japanese) can be found in Asian food stores. It's usually with the sushi ingredients. I only use the brand OTAFUKU (KOKUMOTSU SU). You can also find this online and in some larger REWE supermarkets.
- Roasted sesame oil is also a staple in many of my salads recipes. Look for a high-quality oil. My favorite are from La Tourangelle and Bio Planete. These are only used in salads, since they are heat sensitive. For cooking, I use regular sesame oil, which is suitable for high-heat frying and stir-frying.
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