BELLA ON HER 28TH BIRTHDAY / RECIPE: MASSAGED KALE SALAD WITH ROASTED CHICKPEAS IN A MISO-TAHINI DRESSING, September, 2015, Manhattan, NY

I turned twenty-eight this month. I’m now officially in my late twenties (even though twenty-seven totally qualifies as late twenties) so it’s time to get my shit together. On September 5th, my actual birthday, I wrote an Instagram post (you should probably follow me) listing all the goals I want to accomplish in the coming year and asked my friends and (handful of random) followers to help to keep me focused.

Here, once again, is the long-winded birthday message I posted on the gram:

“Hey world! Today I turn 28 and here are some things I’d like to accomplish in the coming year. I want to remain healthy, for my business to continue to profit and then some, to write/blog more frequently (at least once a week), to grow my blog/etsy/instagram/general social media presence, to write a cook book (okay maybe more of a long term goal), to commit myself to eating a balanced diet and an overall healthy lifestyle, to work out at least four days a week but aim for six, to go some place I’ve never been before, particularly abroad, to face my fears, to love, be loved and be happy.”

It’s been two plus weeks and I haven’t exactly hit the ground running towards accomplishing these goals. But hey, it’s a marathon not a sprint! In the past three weeks I’ve moved from Brooklyn to Manhattan, attended two destination weddings, gone through a torrent of emotional turmoil (which I’m not going to share with you because bloggers need keep some things private, right?), and sneaking a lot of crappy food. On top of that I haven’t worked on an embroidery project in over a month, which may have something to do with the fact that my life is in boxes. On the plus side I HAVE joined Class Pass (which is awesome) and started taking Pilates, yoga and barre classes frequently, though I’ve yet to meet my 4X/week goal. Maybe that will happen this week? I remain optimistic. I went on a super hard hike on my birthday and climbed an eight story (maybe I’m exaggerating) moon tower even though I’m completely afraid of heights. I already faced a fear! I have managed, on most days, to have a smoothie and/or a salad for at least one if not two of my meals. I have also booked several parties and special events at my restaurant that will definitely bring in extra revenue and more than likely a new batch of returning slash regular customers.

And I even very impromptu-ly (I know that’s not a word and I don’t care Mom) bought tickets to Hawaii for TWO WEEKS! I can’t remember the last time I went anywhere for two whole weeks, let alone paradise! If you’ve spoken to me at all in the past three months you’d have heard that Hawaii’s been calling my name; so many omens have crossed my winding path, omens pointing to the far west. (mostly, I got really into the Hawaii Five-O reboot on Netflix.) Even though I’ve been to Hawaii before, twice, I haven’t been Oahu, aka Hawaii Five-O Land, and because I’ve always wanted to go there it still counts as a place I’ve never been. And hey, I will have visited Hawaii AND Alaska in one year! That’s pretty cool.

So yea, I’m chugging along at my own pace trying to become the best version of myself. And part of that is eating right! Today I’m sharing a recipe for a healthy, filling and crazy delicious massaged kale salad. This recipe is based on the kale salad I had in Miami at 27, the restaurant inside the very hip (I hate using that word, but actually) Freehand Hostel, which is not actually a hostel, more like a fancy hotel with bunk beds. My friends and I were all little wary of ordering yet another kale salad but the miso-tahini dressing really piqued our interest so we ordered one for the table.

Oh boy did we make the right decision! The vigor of the kale harmonized beautifully with the crunch of the chickpeas and radishes, and the addictive delicious dressing made this a perfect salad. I’m pretty sure I licked the bowl. As soon as I got home I tried to recreate it, added some extra veggies, took away the fennel (not that I don’t LOVE fennel), and I gotta say, I think my version is just as good, if not better.

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MASSAGED KALE SALAD WITH ROASTED CHICKPEAS, RADISHES, GRAPE TOMATOES AND CUCUMBERS IN A MISO-TAHINI DRESSING

There are a lot of steps to this salad and I wanted to make a couple of notes on the prep. First, make sure you properly massage the kale – the last time I made the salad I rushed my massaging because my mama had to get to an appointment – and without the deep massage the kale was too fibrous and the salad fell a little flat. Second, the salty roasted chickpeas provide an alternative for the crouton crunch factor. After roasting the chickpeas make sure to use them while they’re still hot, as they’re crunchiest right out of the oven. After about thirty minutes or so they get a little chewier, still tasty, but for this recipe it’s all about the crunch. Next, though the recipe calls for half a can of chickpeas I like to roast them all and save the other half for a healthy snack. Finally, I’ve added one small hack for the dressing; the original recipe calls for tahini, a thick paste made of ground sesame seeds. In its place I use the tahini-based Annie’s Goddess dressing, which is much easier to work with and store than pure tahini and provides the same flavor.

Between the massaging, chopping, mixing the homemade dressing and roasting the chickpeas, this salad takes time – and timing – to prepare, but it’s so totally worth it. It’s robust enough for a filling lunch, or serve it as a colorful, crunchy accompaniment for chicken paillard or grilled steak and tada! you have a full on meal.

Serving size: Full meal for 2, side dish for 4-6.

Ingredients:

DRESSING

1/3 Cup Annie’s Goddess Dressing
1 tablespoon white miso
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup warm water

salt and pepper

PREP
***A jar with a lid or better yet a mini mixer like a magic bullet or small Cuisinart will make preparation a lot easier. If you lack both, some strong whisking will do the trick

1. in a small bowl mix together the warm water and miso paste until the miso is dissolved. add into a jar (or whatever you may have) with lemon juice, and goddess dressing and shake until emulsified

2. add salt and pepper to taste

SALAD INGREDIENTS

Kale (I like Russian curly kale, you can use whichever kale you prefer or find at the market)

1/2 15 oz can Chickpeas

1/2 cucumber, peeled and chopped

3 radishes, chopped

1/2 cup cherry, grape or sun gold tomatoes, sliced in half

olive oil

salt and pepper

CHICKPEAS

1. pre heat oven to 400° F

2. rinse chickpeas and thoroughly dry them with a kitchen clothe, until dry to the touch (this will take a little while)***they won’t get crunchy if they aren’t completely dry

3. place chickpeas on a cookie sheet and smother with olive oil and a generous helping of salt. iodized or kosher works best.

4. cook for 25-30 minutes until gold brown and crunchy

THE REST

1. first things first you gotta massage that kale! there are hundreds of great instructions on the internet, here’s a good one. make sure you work it hard! remove the ribs of the leaves and rip into bite size pieces

2. add chopped radishes, cucumbers and tomatoes

3. throw in hot crunchy chick peas

4. dress to your liking (I ilke a lot of dressing) but try adding half of the dressing, mix and taste to see if you need more.

5. add GOOD flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper and ENJOY!

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