With summer fast approaching, you and your family are probably looking forward to enjoying as many barbecues and picnics as you can, to enjoy the beautiful weather. And what good is a picnic without a delicious and healthy side dish, like a salad? If you’re looking for an Asian inspiration, this Marinated Kale and Kraut Salad from Marisa Moon of My Longevity Kitchen is a great choice.
The tanginess of the sauerkraut and rice vinegar combines well with the sesame oil and mustard powder, creating a harmonious blend with the earthy flavor of kale. What’s wonderful about this recipe is that you can make it ahead of time without worrying about its flavor going bad — it even tastes better after a few days!
Refreshing Asian Marinated Kale and Kraut Salad Recipe
Prep time: 15 minutes
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons oil of your choice (extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil are good choices)
- 1/2 tablespoon water
- 1/2 teaspoon each of fine sea salt and black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder (optional)
- Monk fruit to taste
Ingredients for the salad:
- 1 head curly kale, stemmed and ripped into 2- to 3-inch pieces (these vary in size, so start with less and add more once you see how much marinade is left)
- 2 to 4 tablespoons sauerkraut or tsukemono (Japanese pickles)
- 2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced or diced
- Mix the dressing ingredients in a bowl big enough for the kale.
- Add the kale and toss to combine.
- Take your hands and get in there, squeezing the kale to break down the fibrous texture and work in the dressing.
- Cover the bowl with a lid and leave at room temperature for two to three hours, or refrigerate overnight. This salad gets better with time — even days!
- When you are ready to eat the salad, mix in 1 to 2 tablespoons of sauerkraut or tsukemono per serving.
- Add the egg. You can go ahead and mix it in for a wonderfully messy combination of textures, or serve it in slices for a prettier presentation.
- Drizzle your salad with a little extra olive oil or chili oil.
Kale: A Super Serving of Nutrients in Every Bite
Did you know that a 100-gram serving of kale contains 2.92 grams of protein, 4.1 grams of dietary fiber and only 0.99 grams of sugar?1 Its carbohydrate-to-protein ratio is 3-to-1 — an exceptionally high amount of protein for any vegetable. This is why it’s been recently dubbed the “new beef.”2 Kale also boasts of an impressive nutrition content, namely calcium, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium. It’s rich in vitamin C, folate and vitamin A3 — no wonder it’s been dubbed a superfood.
One tip when adding kale to your meals: Always buy it organic. As with other greens, kale tends to accumulate toxins present in the soil where it’s grown. Better yet, grow your own kale at home. Check out my article “How to Grow Your Own Superfood — Tips for Growing Kale” for more useful pointers.
While the recipe above can be prepared in advance, take note that this may mean sacrificing the crispiness of your kale — it stays crispy for a relatively short time, which is why it’s best used a few days after being harvested. If you like your kale with a bit of crunch, eat the salad immediately, but if texture isn’t an issue, then you can leave it for a few hours before serving.
The Benefits of Adding Fermented Vegetables to Your Meals
One of my longstanding health recommendations is to optimize your gut health by regularly consuming fermented foods, and sauerkraut is one of the best options out there. But don’t be fooled by its German name, which literally translates to “sour cabbage” — it’s surprisingly an Asian creation.
According to The Spruce Eats, ancient workers who constructed the Great Wall of China more than 2,000 years ago were said to have fermented shredded cabbage in rice wine so they would be able to enjoy this vegetable during the non-growing season. A thousand years later, Genghis Khan brought the dish to Europe, where it became a staple, often served with pork.4
Eating fermented foods like sauerkraut is an inexpensive — and far more effective — way of reaping the benefits of probiotics. Research shows that cultured vegetables can influence the microbiome, which then leads to a wide array of beneficial effects, including helping:
- Combat infections caused by Helicobacter pylori bacteria5
- Improve symptoms of autism6
- Protect against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s7
- Ease urinary tract infections8
While you can buy ready-to-eat sauerkraut from groceries, it’s much better to make your own version at home. Try this easy, healthy classic sauerkraut recipe from Pete Evans.
Have You Ever Tasted Tsukemono?
While you may have heard of sauerkraut, you’ve probably never heard of tsukemono before. This is a type of Japanese pickle, made by soaking vegetables in brine and adding vinegar and spices. There’s no single variety of tsukemono, as each region has its own specialty, resulting in an infinite number of varieties.9
According to Serious Eats, tsukemono is an integral part of a traditional Japanese meal, called a washoku, because it brings about harmony. Aside from refreshing the palate and countering the savory flavor of umami-rich foods, tsukemono components, which are often vibrantly colored, also help meet the general rule that a meal must have five colors: red, black, green, yellow and white.10
You can use different tsukemono varieties for this salad recipe. Traditional examples include “gari” or pickled ginger, “beni shoga” or red pickled ginger, “misozuke” or miso pickles, and “kojizuke” or koji rice brain pickles.11 You can buy tsukemono from different Asian specialty stores — or, just like sauerkraut, you can make it at home.
The Finishing Touch: Pastured Eggs
Organic, pastured eggs are a great source of healthy fats, protein, nutrients like choline, and antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. Adding eggs to your foods is a simple and cost-effective way to add valuable nutrition to your diet.
While I prefer to eat eggs as minimally cooked as possible, such as poached, soft-boiled or over easy with very runny yolks, hard-boiled eggs are a good snack option. Added to salads, they not only pack a nutritional punch, but also impart a different texture that contrasts with the vegetables. Where your eggs come from also matters. Free-range, pastured organic eggs are my top choice because they’re much more nutritious than conventional ones. One egg-testing project found that, compared to commercial eggs, free-range eggs contain:12
- Two-thirds times more vitamin A
- Two times more omega-3 fatty acids
- Three times more vitamin E
- Seven times more beta-carotene
To make sure you’re purchasing truly organic eggs, source them from a small, local farmer near your area. You can also find them in farmers markets.
About the Author
Marisa Moon of My Longevity Kitchen is a public speaker and certified primal health coach who provides one-on-one guidance to help individuals put an end to the confusion regarding what is healthy. Marisa honors ancient practices by learning the ways of our early human ancestors — from the days before industrialized food and crazy-busy schedules — and then she adapts those lessons for modern living. Work with Marisa: MarisaMoon.com, subscribe to her recipe blog, My Longevity Kitchen, and/or visit her coaching channel “The Wild Within” through the free Aura smartphone app.
Sources and References