It’s officially festive season, and the holiday-party invites are swarming in. This is absolutely the toughest time of the year to be healthy, especially with all those naughty treats going around the office. While we enjoy loosening our belts once in a while, we also try to be mindful. For every cookie consumed, there should be a kale salad thrown somewhere into the mix. After all, it’s all about balance – isn’t it?
Kale has quickly become the most famous vegetable in the world, thanks to its high amount of vitamins and low amount of calories. This salad is a combination of dark-green lacinato kale (also known as dinosaur kale) and the purpled-hued Russian kale, both courtesy of our favorite farmers’ market in Dubai’s Bay Avenue.
In this recipe, we’ve paired the kale with miso-glazed eggplant that has been caramelized under the broiler with miso, creating the most delicious umami flavor. We’ve topped it with a lime vinaigrette, making it the perfect salad for a light dinner.
Tip: When working with kale for salads, it is important to “massage” the leaves before using them. This softens them and removes some of the bitterness. To massage the kale, remove the leaves from the stalks before placing them in a bowl with a generous squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt. Massage for approximately three minutes, or until soft.
- 3 to 4 small eggplants (about 575g)
- 2 tbsp neutral oil (i.e. sunflower, canola, or vegetable)
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 bunches of kale, removed from the stem and massaged
- 1 small Lebanese cucumber, shaved into thin slices using a peeler
- ¼ cup sliced radish
- ¼ cup pomegranate seeds
- 3 tbsp white or yellow miso paste
- 3 tbsp mirin
- 2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 2 tbsp light-brown sugar
- 3 tbsp black sesame seeds
- 1 clove of garlic, finely minced
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 1 tbsp apple-cider vinegar
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
Preheat the oven to 218°C/424°F. Cut the eggplants into slices (about ½ inch thick) and sprinkle with salt. Let sit for ten minutes; this will help release some of the water.
In the meantime, oil a large baking sheet with the neutral oil. After ten minutes, wipe any moisture off the eggplant slices with a paper towel and place them on the baking sheet. Using a pastry brush, brush the sesame oil over the eggplant slices. Place the baking sheet in the oven and roast for 20 minutes.
To prepare the miso glaze, combine the miso, mirin, soy sauce, white vinegar, sesame oil, lime juice, and brown sugar to a food processor or blender. Mix until combined and smooth.
Once the eggplant has roasted, remove it from the oven and generously brush the miso glaze over each slice and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Set the oven to broil, and return the glazed eggplant to the oven to broil for three to five minutes until caramelized. Watch the eggplant carefully so it doesn’t burn. Set aside to prepare the salad.
To make the lime vinaigrette, whisk together the garlic, Dijon mustard, lime juice, and apple-cider vinegar. Slowly pour in the olive oil, whisking constantly. Season with salt and pepper.
Add all the salad ingredients to a large serving bowl, placing the miso-glazed eggplant slices on top. Serve with lime vinaigrette.
Noreen Wasti is the creator of Noni’s Place, a food and lifestyle website.