Cutting Down on Salt? Kale Salad to the Rescue

A kale salad low in sodium, but big on flavor and texture. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

A kale salad low in sodium, but big on flavor and texture. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)


When I was diagnosed with high blood pressure years ago, it wasn’t necessarily a surprise.

That’s because it runs in my family, unfortunately.

What was a revelation, though, was just how much sodium lurked in so many foods I’d enjoyed without a second thought.

Check the labels on things like instant oatmeal, blue cheese, and even Dijon mustard, and you’ll be astonished.

(Graphic courtesy of the American Heart Association)

(Graphic courtesy of the American Heart Association)

Nowadays, I always read labels. And I wisely use flavor boosters such as good vinegars, lemon juice, herbs, spices, and toasted unsalted nuts to give extra oomph to dishes that are moderate in sodium.

That’s why I love this kale salad. I know — can you stand another kale recipe? I think you will when it’s as simple to prepare and satisfying as this one.

“Smoky Kale Salad with Toasted Almonds and Egg” is from the cookbook, “Brassicas” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy. It’s by Laura B. Russell, a recipe developer and food columnist for the Oregonian.

The book is loaded with good-for-you and good-tasting recipes that shine the light on brassicas. Otherwise known as crucifers, they include kale, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, bok choy, mizuna, radishes and more. As Russell states: They are full of vitamins, minerals and sulfar-rich phytonutrients that may aid in cancer prevention.

Plus they just taste so good with their distinctive flavors.

Kale shines in this salad, the sturdy leaves softened by massaging them briefly with a vinaigrette made of sherry vinegar, smoked paprika, black pepper, olive oil and just 1/4 teaspoon of salt (for four servings).

A chopped hard-boiled egg adds softness and creaminess. Toasted almonds — either regular or Marcona — add heavenly crunch. Aged Manchego cheese adds richness and a lot of flavor without an overload of sodium, since you can control how much you grate over.

This salad is wonderfully earthy, smoky and vibrant tasting. When you use ingredients that have so much flavor on their own, you can be skimpy with the salt and do a body good at the same time.

Don’t forget to “Take the Low Sodium Pledge” from the American Heart Association, which will add your name to the growing list of consumers demanding lower-sodium prepared and packaged foods. After all, wouldn’t it be nice to pick up a loaf of bread or a can of soup at the supermarket, and marvel at just how low the sodium content is?


Smoky Kale Salad with Toasted Almonds and Egg

(Serves 4)

2 large eggs

Kosher salt

1 large bunch kale (12 to 14 ounces), center ribs and tough stems removed, leaves finely shredded

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (pimenton de la Vera)

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/3 cup sliced almonds or Marcona almonds, toasted

Aged Manchego cheese, shaved or grated (optional)

Put the eggs in a small saucepan with cold water to cover. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let stand for 10 minutes. Drain the eggs and then peel them. (You can cook the eggs a day ahead. Keep them covered in the refrigerator.) Chop the hard-boiled eggs into small pieces and toss them with a pinch of salt (optional).

Put the kale in a salad bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, smoked paprika, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the pepper. Add the oil and whisk to combine.

Drizzle the dressing over the kale, then, using your fingertips or tongs, toss together the kale and dressing. Spend a few minutes thoroughly working the dressing into the leaves. (At this point, you can cover and refrigerate the salad for up to 4 hours before serving.) Add the almonds and eggs and toss once more. Shave some Manchego over the top, if using. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if needed, then serve.

Adapted from “Brassicas” by Laura B. Russell

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