Massaging Kale: Review of Wild About Greens by Nava Atlas

Wild About Greens by Nava AtlasThough not a vegetarian, I’m an avid fan of greens, both wild and domestic. I’ve studied them extensively and cook greens regularly. I’ve read and used every English and Greek language book about greens I can find. When I heard Nava Atlas, an accomplished vegetarian cooking authority, had written a book about greens, I couldn’t wait to see it.

I’ve finally read Nava’s new book: Wild About Greens: 125 Delectable Vegan Recipes for Kale, Collards, Arugula, Bok Choy, and other Leafy Veggies Everyone Loves (Sterling 2012). It was well worth the wait. I haven’t been as excited about a cookbook in a long time.

There are many things to love about this book. Nava’s recipes are simple and easy to follow, yet produce full-flavored, well-seasoned dishes. Her instructions are complete and uncomplicated. She uses ingredients readily available in American supermarkets; no hustling to find obscure items required. Although the book is for vegan fare, Nava is never preachy or critical of omnivores. Her warmth and good humor shine through every recipe.

Wild About Greens starts with an illustrated section introducing each green used in the book, and explains how best to choose and prepare them using basic cooking techniques. Nava also gives directions for storing and preserving greens. This information is helpful for times like Alaskans face now: greens still in our gardens must be picked and preserved or be lost to snow and ice.

From main courses to salads, from soups to grains, Nava’s recipes are terrific. If you grow greens in your garden, subscribe to a CSA, bring gorgeous stacks of greens home from the market, or are looking for delicious Lenten recipes, Wild About Greens is an absolute must-have. This is the highest praise I can give.

Kale and Cucumber Salad with Avocado-Tahini Dressing

Kale and Cucumber Salad with Avocado-Tahini Dressing

Yesterday, Jennifer McGovern and I had a great time testing four of Nava’s recipes, all for Massaged Kale Salads. And by massaged, I mean exactly that. Kale is stemmed, cut into thin ribbons, and massaged and squeezed and rubbed until its tough cellulose structure collapses. After a good massage, kale darkens, loses its bitterness, and is surprisingly tender.

Kale flourishes during Alaska’s cool summers. It grows prolifically and rarely falls victim to bugs and slugs. Cooked kale is delicious and, when blanched, freezes well. Because uncooked kale tends to be tough, most people don’t eat it raw, despite its excellent flavor. By massaging kale, as Nava recommends, this problem disappears.

Kale, Pear and Radicchio Salad with Raspberry VinaigretteNava provides various techniques for massaging kale. Jen and I tried all of hers and a couple of our own. We massaged kale with salt, with olive oil, with olive oil and lemon juice, just with olive oil covered hands, and with olive oil and salt. I liked the olive oil and salt technique best; the kale tasted delicious even before it was added to salads. With either of the salt techniques, be careful not to add too much and to take the salt massage into account when making salad dressing.

We like all four of Nava’s massaged kale salads that we tested, but had two clear favorites: Kale Salad with Pears & Radicchio and Kale & Cucumber Salad with Avocado-Tahini Dressing. Links to our adapted versions of these two recipes are below.

Be sure to check out the recipes mentioned in this post:



Wild About Greens by Nava Atlas

Wild About Greens by Nava Atlas

Enter our cookbook giveaway, and you’ll automatically be eligible to win a copy of a terrific new cookbook: Wild About Greens: 125 Delectable Vegan Recipes for Kale, Collards, Arugula, Bok Choy, and other Leafy Veggies Everyone Loves by Nava Atlas.


Enter the Wild About Greens Cookbook by Nava Atlas Giveaway. Note : The deadline for entries is noon (12:00 pm) Alaska time on October 26, 2012.

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8 Responses to Massaging Kale: Review of Wild About Greens by Nava Atlas

  1. I’d love a copy of Wild About Greens!

  2. Love my greens! Anyway any how….gotta have my greens, so hoping to win a copy of your book!!

  3. Karen NBvW says:

    Thank you for the 2 raw Kale ideas. I have bought SO many C’books this past year, as a new Vegan, (and given so many away) I just can’t spend more, but here again is ANOTHER exciting PBWF book I WANT!

  4. Every recipe I read that looks delicious is one of yours. I would to own the whole collection

  5. This sounds like my kind of cookbook. That kale, pear and radicchio salad sounds really nice.

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