When your neighbour gives you homemade cranberry kombucha, you, firstly, thank them. Then, you sip it slowly in the mornings and afternoons while working away, experiencing a different kind of alertness and buzz than black coffee gives you. Finally, you decide to do something other than drink it, so you eat it. I’m talking about cooking with kombucha without actually cooking with kombucha. Heat would destroy all of those beneficial properties kombucha has to offer, so raw is the way to go when incorporating the tonic into recipes.
If you’re wondering what kombucha is, there are several helpful primers online. I found this one, How to Make Kombucha Tea at Home, from The Kitchn, the best. The Kitchn’s article dives into what the drink actually is, as well as how to make it safely at home, if you want to get really into the ‘buch revolution.
Essentially, kombucha is a probiotic-rich beverage that you can buy in most grocery stores or make at home and has a sweet-and-tart tang. A less appealing description of kombucha is mushroom tea vinegar (it does not taste like mushrooms, in case you were worried) that has loads of good for you properties to replenish, restore and revitalize. It is ever so slightly effervescent, which adds to its refreshing character.
Depending on the brew, kombucha can be quite bracing, which I enjoy, but some may find too much. This is precisely why I wanted to show you a new way of incorporating it in your diet as food. Chew your kombucha!
Salad season coincides with grilling season, a time when you want dishes that can be made-ahead but still remain as fresh as the moment you make them, if not improve. Kale salad is my go-to for entertaining or bringing along to a backyard BBQ. It keeps well for a few days, even dressed. I use plain old curly kale, but deep, rich lacinato kale can step in here instead. Crispy vegetables with no need to cook, a swipe or two of parmesan and a sprinkle of toasted nuts add pizzazz without distraction to the rest of the meal.
And every salad needs a dressing, which is where the kombucha comes in.
Kombucha’s inherent vinegary tang is a superb base for a salad dressing. It’s also quite sweet, which helps almost any condiment come alive (no pun intended). I’ve smoothed everything out with olive oil, savoury dijon mustard and a splash of sherry vinegar. A kombucha vinaigrette is just that simple, especially so if the kombucha is prepared for you. Play around with kombucha flavours, such as green tea, ginger and lemon, to create a brand new dressing for your favourite kale salad. Easy, fast and just in time for the warm weather. Enjoy this fresh, inviting way to introduce kombucha to your diet.
Shredded Kale Salad with Kombucha Vinaigrette
Kale salad is dressed with probiotic-rich, zippy kombucha vinaigrette, a popular fermented tonic that can be found at most major grocery stores (even Costco now carries it). The salad keeps well, even dressed for most of the week. Enjoy it throughout the year, supplementing the salad’s produce add-in with what’s in-season. There’s plenty of character in this charmer as a side dish, but you can make it a meal by adding a cupful of cooked quinoa and chickpeas, or top it off with a cooked protein of your choice.
Shredded Kale Salad OR your favourite kale salad recipe
1 large bunch kale (about 8 cups), de-stemmed, shredded
1 bunch radishes, very thinly sliced
2 carrots, peeled, very thinly sliced
1/4 tsp salt
ground black pepper, to taste, more for serving
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/2 cup shaved parmesan or crumbled feta (optional)
1/2 cup kombucha, any flavour you like (I used cranberry)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp sherry vinegar or balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
- In a large bowl, using clean hands, combine kale, radishes, salt and pepper, massaging until kale is dark green and tenderized, about 20 to 30 seconds. Mix in half of pine nuts and cheese.
- For the vinaigrette, in a measuring cup to whisk or glass jar to shake, mix kombucha, oil, vinegar and mustard until fully combined. Add to kale mixture, toss well and let sit at room temperature for at least 5 minutes before serving. Serve garnished with remaining pine nuts and parmesan or feta.
- Store dressed salad airtight in refrigerator up to 5 days.