My body talks to me – not in that, “I see dead people” way but in a “oh, if I listen, I can learn” sort of way. And I’m starting to listen. Lately, it’s been talking about healthy food. Perhaps because the more time I’m on the road, the less often I eat homemade meals (or meals, period), but, no matter the reason, I’m gravitating toward simple, healthy, whole foods.
In particular, the chatter has been about big, filling salads with loads of veggies, which seems simple enough yet is nearly impossible to find when traveling. So, when I’m home, I’ve been making them for myself, like this one here. I started with a base of kale, because it’s so ridiculously healthy for you and also really filling. Then I loaded it with handfuls of my favorite vegetables, some shredded chicken, salty cheese, and a mint yogurt dressing that’s cooling yet spicy, like a good raita.
(about 10 ounces)
about 8 ounces
ends trimmed and small dice
For the kale: Fold each kale leaf in half lengthwise then pull out and discard the center rib. Tear leaves into bite-sized pieces and place in a large nonreactive bowl (you should have about 6 cups). Add lemon juice from one lemon half and a pinch of salt and, with clean hands, rub and gently squeeze the kale until it just begins to soften and wilt (it will get darker green in color). Set aside 5 to 15 minutes while you prepare the rest of the salad.
For the dressing: Combine yogurt, vinegar, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, sugar, mint, red pepper flakes and garlic in a blender or mini food processor and process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the inside of the carafe as needed. (Depending on the kind of yogurt you use, you may need to thin out the dressing with a little water so it is pourable.) Taste and adjust flavor, adding salt, freshly ground black pepper, and sugar, as needed.
For the salad: Heat oil in a small pan over medium heat. When it shimmers, add coriander and cook until just fragrant. Pour over shredded chicken, add juice from remaining lemon half and toss to combine. Taste and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, as desired.
Place greens in a serving bowl or serving dishes and top with chicken mixture and remaining ingredients. Spoon dressing over the top and serve.
Food styling and photography by Aida Mollenkamp