Warm Kale Blackberry Salad
There’s a lot to love about this fresh take on kale salad. In fact, this could be my cooking school students’ most beloved recipe! It comes together in under 10 minutes, all in one skillet, no kale massaging required. It’s warm and comforting, yet bright and flavorful. And, it’s packed with good-for-the-brain foods. Each ingredient has special powers to protect the brain from neuroinflammation and combat the process that leads to Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 bunches of kale, or enough for 8 cups of kale leaves
- 1 cup raw pistachios
- 1 ½ cups fresh blackberries
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 15 fresh mint leaves, cut into slivers
- Kosher or flaky sea salt (such as Maldón)
- Edible blooms, for garnish (optional)
- Rinse the kale well and strip the leaves from the stems using your hands or a knife. Tear or cut the kale leaves into 2-inch strips and dry thoroughly with a salad spinner or a kitchen towel. (Reserve the kale stems for another dish — dip into hummus, add to vegetable broth, or dice fine and add to soups.)
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and heat just until it shimmers.
Add the kale and sauté for 2 to 4 minutes, until wilted and slightly brown on the edges. Transfer to a serving dish.
- In the same skillet, add the pistachios and sauté over low heat for a few minutes until toasty brown. Remove the pistachios and sprinkle over the kale.
- In the same pan, add the blackberries and balsamic vinegar. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the vinegar coats the back of a spoon.
- Pour the blackberries and their vinegar sauce over the kale.
- Scatter mint leaves across the salad and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of flaky salt. Garnish with edible blooms, if using. Toss gently just before serving.
Brain Health Notes:
- Pistachios are one of the most nutrient-dense nuts. Not only do they provide fiber, potassium, folic acid, vitamin E and healthy fats, they are a good source of resveratrol — the same brain-boosting phytonutrient found in red wine.
- Whenever possible, purchase nuts raw. All “raw” nuts produced in the US are not truly raw, they are pasteurized for health safety reasons. But the roasting process of most commercially produced nuts creates advances glycation end products (AGEs) that are known to be harmful to brain cells. If you like toasted nuts, give them a quick toss in a dry frying pan or one coated with olive or avocado oil. Or roast your nuts in the oven at 375º F for 8-10 minutes or until lightly toasted.
- All blue, black, and red berries provide brain healthy anthocyanins, a nutrient that helps clear amyloid plaque from the brain. Blackberries are especially high in antioxidants, more than twice that of blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries.
- Everyone knows that kale is a nutritional powerhouse. But did you know that eating one cup of leafy greens each day can lengthen your brainspan by 11 years? Yes, eating leafy greens such as kale can actually slow down cognitive decline and help you maintain an active brain longer. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29263222)
- If you can find organic edible flowers at the grocery store or farmers market, try adding them to your brain healthy dishes. Each pigmented petal is packed with brain healthy phytonutrients.
BHK Cooking School Notes:
- Use any combination of kale and berries that you like. A combination of purple kale and Lacinato (also called Tuscan or Dinosaur kale) is especially good.
- Substitute sliced almonds, chopped Brazil nuts, or cashews if that’s what you have on hand.
- Don’t use your very best aged balsamic for this recipe; use an everyday brand.
- Make it a meal: Serve the warm kale salad topped with a filet of wild-caught Alaska salmon.
Reposted from Annie Fenn, M.D. and the Brain Health Kitchen.