May 182016

Kale and Spring Vegetable Salad


Kale is one of my favourite green leaves to put into a salad because you can pre-toss it in dressing and it won’t get limp for days. My general method with most kale salads is to massage the kale leaves by chopping them and then squeezing them between my hands for about three minutes. It makes a world of a difference because the relaxed kale leaves become softer and more flavourful.


These days, I’m tossing my kale salads with roasted spring vegetables. Any three vegetables that roast well would work in this recipe, but do try and look for different coloured vegetables to get the most variety. Here I used carrots, leeks and beetroots. I’m using some irresistibly cute mini vegetables which I found in my market, but if you can’t use mini-sized vegetables feel free to use the regular-sized ones and simply cut them into bite-sized chunks.



Kale and Spring Vegetable Salad


Dressing ingredients:

5 Tbsp EVOO

2½ Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Good pinch of sea salt


Salad ingredients:

1 bunch of kale (about 8 large leaves)

400g baby carrots

400g baby leeks

200g baby beetroot

Nuts (optional, for garnishing)

Extra virgin olive oil for roasting the vegetables

Sea salt for roasting the vegetables




  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400C.
  2. Wash, peel and trim the carrots. If they are baby carrots, cut them in half lengthwise. If they are regular sized carrots, cut them into generous bite-size pieces.
  3. Remove the outside layer of the leeks and trim off the top and bottom. Wash well. If you are using baby leeks, leave them whole. If you are using regular sized leeks, cut them into large chunks.
  4. In a medium-sized baking dish, add the carrots and leeks and toss them with 2-3 Tbsp of EVOO and a generous pinch of sea salt. Roast them for around 30 minutes until nicely caramelised, tossing once halfway through cooking. When they are ready, remove them from the oven and allow to cool.
  5. To roast the beetroots, first wash the skin and cut off the leaves at the top. Wrap in two layers of aluminum foil and place on a baking tray. Roast them for around 1 hour (or until a skewer goes easily through the beetroot). When they are ready, open the foil and allow them to cool. Once cool, pinch off their skin with your fingers and cut into bite-sized cubes.
  6. While everything is roasting, you can prepare the kale by removing the leaves from the thick stalks down the center. Discard the stalks.
  7. Wash and dry the kale leaves, then roughly chop them.
  8. Place the chopped kale in a large bowl and massage it by squeezing it between your hands for 3 minutes (set the timer). This will make the kale softer and more tasty, and in my opinion is a necessary step for any raw kale salad.
  9. Toss the massaged kale with all the dressing ingredients. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  10. Add the carrots, leeks and beetroots and toss well.
  11. Scatter some nuts on top for garnish (they can be added at this point or just prior to serving).
  12. Refrigerate for up to 3 days.
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May 202015

Kale Tabbouleh


I really enjoy eating traditional Lebanese Tabbouleh, but making it is a true labour of love! Although Tabbouleh is a very simple salad to make, there is one rather time-consuming step: separating the large quantity of parsley leaves from their stalks.


I am not the only one who finds this a big job. I’ve seen boxes of pre-chopped parsley in my supermarket in Dubai, so there must be others who struggle with the same thing. Of course, the problem with pre-chopped parsley is that it has very little flavour and aroma compared to freshly chopped parsley.


But then something happened which changed the way I make Tabbouleh.


This week I attended the official opening of The Farm House, a shop which sells local organic produce in the UAE. The event was hosted at The Change Initiative in Dubai where Chef Yogesh prepared amazingly fresh, seasonal dishes with a ‘twist’ using mostly local organic produce. One of the many delicious dishes he prepared was Kale Tabbouleh. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was hooked from the first bite. I knew immediately that I wanted to go home and try to replicate this dish. I don’t know exactly what Chef Yogesh’s recipe is, but I think I got pretty close to it with my version of Kale Tabbouleh.


I love the taste of this recipe, and I also love the fact that chopping kale is so much easier than chopping parsley. Unlike delicate parsley leaves which take a long time to separate from their stems, kale leaves come off very easily from their tough stalks.


The main thing to remember when using kale in a salad is the importance of massaging the leaves for a few minutes to break down their cellulose structure (I know it sounds weird, but trust me on this). Raw kale leaves are quite tough and it’s hard to get much flavour from them. Massaging the kale gives you a softer, more flavourful leaf. It also shrinks the leaves to about half their volume which makes them easier to toss with other ingredients. The technique for massaging kale is to tear or cut the kale leaves off their stalks, shred the leaves, place them in a large bowl, and rub and squeeze them between your hands for 3 minutes. By the end of the first minute, the kale will smell like a freshly mowed lawn and by the end of 3 minutes it will be very pliable and soft.


If you are a fan of kale, you will love this salad. If you are not a fan of kale, you will become a kale convert after eating this 😉


Share your thoughts in the comment section below: Do you like experimenting with traditional recipes and updating them, like this Kale Tabbouleh? Or do you think it’s better to leave traditional recipes as they are?


Kale Tabbouleh



(Serves 4 as a side dish; recipe can be doubled to serve more)


Dressing Ingredients:

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 tsp coarse sea salt


Salad Ingredients:

1 cup cooked bulgur (1/4 cup dried bulgur usually becomes 1 cup when cooked)

1/2 cup freshly boiled water

1/2 tsp salt

100g/3.5 oz kale (weight with the stalks removed)

2 scallions/spring onions (white and green parts), thinly sliced

2 Tbsp fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

4 cherry tomatoes or 1 large tomato, seeds removed and cut into small pieces



  1. Prepare the dressing by combining the extra virgin olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice and sea salt in the bottom of the bowl you plan to toss your salad in.
  2. To prepare your bulgur, follow the directions on the packaging. I made mine by combining 1/4 cup dried bulgur, 1/2 cup freshly boiled water (from the kettle) and 1/2 tsp salt into a pot with a lid. Cover and allow to sit for 20-25 minutes. Alternatively, you can boil the bulgur for 10-15 minutes in a pot of boiled water. Drain if necessary and spread on a plate to cool.
  3. To prepare the kale, remove the kale leaves from the tough stalk which runs the full length of the kale leaf. This can be done by pulling the leafy parts off by hand or cutting them off with a knife. Wash the leaves and then dry them thoroughly in a clean tea towel or kitchen cloth. Thinly shred the kale and put it into an empty bowl. Massage the shredded kale leaves with your hands by rubbing and squeezing it for 3 minutes. Set aside.
  4. Finely chop your scallions/spring onions and mint leaves. Set aside.
  5. Deseed your tomatoes and cut into small pieces.
  6. Take the large salad bowl with the dressing in it, and add the kale, cooled bulgur, scallions/spring onions, mint and tomatoes.
  7. Toss all the ingredients well with the dressing.
  8. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
  9. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  10. This salad will stay fresh in your refrigerator for 3 days.


Share your thoughts in the comment section below: Do you like experimenting with traditional recipes and updating them, like this Kale Tabbouleh? Or do you think it’s better to leave traditional recipes as they are?


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Dec 162014

Noodle, Kale and Orange Salad with Plum Sauce Dressing


Rice noodles are probably one of the easiest things to cook ever. Well, maybe ‘cook’ is an overstatement. Rice noodles simply need to rest in a pot of boiled water for 2-3 minutes and they are good to go. Make sure not to leave them in the water for too long otherwise they may turn mushy.


The nice thing about noodle salads is that they are more filling than many other types of salads and they don’t get soggy, so they are a great little treat to keep in the fridge for a few days. They are also handy to have when you have house guests staying with you, so they can graze on the salad whenever they feel like it.


Noodle salads are extremely versatile and there are so many different combinations of flavors and vegetables that work. In this recipe, I used kale, spring onions, bell peppers, navel oranges and coriander leaves, and tossed it all in a Plum Sauce Dressing.





(serves 4)


Dressing Ingredients:

6 Tbsp Chinese Plum Sauce

5 Tbsp soy sauce

5 Tbsp rice vinegar

1 Tbsp sesame oil

1-2 deseeded red chillies finely sliced or 1/2 tsp red chilli powder

A pinch of salt


Salad Ingredients:

1 bunch of kale (about 6-8 large stalks)

1 pack (about 200g / 7 oz) of dried brown rice noodles/vermicelli

4 spring onions, finely sliced

2 bell peppers (any color), deseeded and finely sliced

1 cup cilantro/coriander leaves, roughly chopped

2 navel oranges

1 cup roasted peanuts or cashew nuts



  1.  To cook your rice noodles, follow the instructions on the packaging. I usually place the noodles in an empty pot with a generous pinch of salt, boil some water in the kettle, and then pour the boiled water over the noodles in the pot. Cover the pot for 2-3 minutes until the noodles are cooked (al dente). Drain your noodles and run some cold water over them to cool them down.  Toss with a little oil (olive oil or sesame oil) and set aside.
  2. Make the salad dressing by combining all the dressing ingredients. Set aside.
  3. You can either buy roasted peanuts or cashew nuts, or you can toast them on the stove. Place the nuts in a dry pan over medium heat and stir so that they heat evenly. In about 5 minutes, they will start to brown. Keep moving them on the pan so that they don;t burn. Toast for another few minutes until they are light brown. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  4. Wash and dry your vegetables.
  5. Slice your kale very thinly. Put the kale in a large bowl and start massaging it in your hands for about 3 minutes to soften it and make it easier to eat. The kale will shrink to about half it’s volume.
  6. Finely slice 4 spring onions and 2 bell peppers. Set aside.
  7. Roughly chop 1 cup of cilantro / coriander leaves. Set aside.
  8. Peel and cut 2 navel oranges into bite-size pieces.
  9. To make the salad, put the noodles in the salad bowl and pour all the dressing on top. Toss it well. Add the spring onions, bell peppers, kale, naval oranges and coriander leaves, and toss until everything is evenly mixed. Scatter the roasted nuts on top.
  10. Serve immediately or refrigerate for upto 3 days.


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