Kale and Cabbage Salad with Carrot Ginger Dressing and Toasted Rice Powder includes tender young greens and root vegetables available here in Georgia during early spring. I was fortunate to find tender kale florets at my local farmers market to add to this particular salad. Other local vegetables can be substituted throughout the year in this endlessly forgiving recipe.
The carrot ginger dressing recipe is a salad stalwart and makes almost everything it touches taste sunny. My recipe originated from the 2013 Keepers cookbook by Kathy Brennan and Caroline Campion. It is reminiscent of the salad dressing served in just about every traditional Japanese restaurant. I often end up eating spoonfuls before an ounce ever touches my salad. It’s really just a variation on a saucy marinated salad, right?
The toasted rice powder, called kha khua, adds a slightly crunchy, roasted flavor to counterbalance the bright fresh salad flavors. It can be purchased in Asian markets although homemade has a deeper toasty flavor. My recipe is adapted from the 2004 Gourmet Cookbook edited by Ruth Reichl.
Salad Notes and Tips:
- Adding cabbage to chop salads is one of my favorite tricks because cabbage doesn’t wilt and the salad can be marinated and refrigerated for a few days.
- A mandoline or vegetable slicer is the best way to get thin, even slices of salad vegetables. A knife and a steady hand can also be used.
- When kale is young it doesn’t need to be massaged. If the kale has big leaves, remove the stem and center rib, cut in strips and massage a teaspoon of olive oil into the kale to break down the structure.
- Dinosaur or lacinato kale is preferred. If you have access to other young kale varieties, use them. I used mild and sweet young Russian red kale spied at the farmers market and added it along with baby lacinato kale last time I made this salad.
- Hakurei turnips, any variety of spring onions, kohlrabi, roasted beets or blanched broccoli or broccolini, all work well in this salad.
- Carrots and ginger are first chopped in a food processor then added to a vinaigrette. The carrots need to be minced yet still retain a bit of texture. If all ingredients are processed together, they seem to separate and the make a more visually muted dressing.
- If I don’t use fresh ginger, my favorite brand of minced ginger has added sugar and rice vinegar in it, do not buy brands with added oil or the taste will be off
- Short grained sticky rice is traditionally used in Southeast Asia for the toasted rice powder, but any rice can be used. I use a fragrant, premium-aged long-grain called Indian Kitchen King Basmati Rice.
- To grind the rice, a mortar and pestle can be used instead of a spice grinder or blender.
Recipe: Spring Kale Cabbage Salad with Ginger Carrot Dressing and Toasted Rice Powder
4 cups kale, cut into ½” strips (stems and large center ribs removed)
2 cup thinly sliced cabbage
½ cup thinly sliced radishes
½ cup thinly sliced carrots
¼ cup sliced green onions (scallions)
½ cup carrot ginger dressing
4 tsp toasted rice powder
- In large bowl mix cabbage, kale, radishes, carrots, green onions and carrot ginger dressing.
- Sprinkle 1 tsp toasted rice powder over each serving of salad.
makes a little more than 2 cups
2 cups chopped carrots (about ½ pound)
¼ cup diced ginger (If I don’t use my favorite brand of minced ginger has added sugar and rice vinegar in it, do not buy brands with added oil or the taste will be off)
2 Tbs Asian toasted sesame oil
¼ cup peanut oil (canola or grapeseed oil can also be used)
¼ cup plain rice vinegar (champagne vinegar can also be used)
2 Tbs honey (preferably local)
2 Tbs fresh lime juice
½ tsp kosher salt
- Pulse carrots and ginger in a food processor and until finely chopped, but not pureed. Set aside.
- In small bowl, mix sesame and peanut oil.
- In medium bowl mix rice vinegar, honey, lime juice and salt. Slowly mix in sesame and peanut oil until well mixed and emulsified.
- Add finely chopped carrots and ginger and mix until well combined.
Toasted Rice Powder
2 Tbs raw white rice
Heat rice in heavy small non-stick sauté pan (preferably a cast iron skillet) over medium heat until all rice kernels are a deep golden brown, about 7-8 minutes. A nutty fragrance will be noticeable. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Grind toasted rice in spice grinder or blender to a fine powder.