The ultimate feel-good meal: lots of colorful, crunchy, nutrient-dense veggies (hello, vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants!), omega-3-rich wild Alaskan salmon, and some lactofermented veg (beets, in this case) for probiotic power.
Packed with so many good things, this one also checks the boxes on all the “-frees”: dairy-free, gluten-free, gluten-free, grain-free, free of added sugars (not even honey or maple syrup). So it’s perfect for a cleanse or reset meal when your system needs a break. Like the beginning of Spring when, despite the snow that might remain on the ground, we’re starting to crave meals of the lighter and brighter variety.
Kale, fennel and red cabbage salad with miso-ginger-lime salmon
The key to a great kale salad is massaging and marinating the kale with an acidic dressing, which essentially “cooks” it. The result is a tender, verdant green that still retains some of its structure and crunch but is much tastier and easier on the digestion.
1 tablespoon thinly sliced shallot
3 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
8 leaves of lacinato (dinosaur) kale, de-stemmed, washed/dried and sliced crosswise into thin ribbons (about 2 cups)
1/4 head of red cabbage, cored and shaved or thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 fennel bulb, trimmed and shaved or thinly sliced
1 small carrot, shaved or thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fennel seed gomasio (or sub 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds + 1/4 teaspoon sea salt)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
pinch of red chile flakes
Two 6-ounce wild salmon filets, skin on
1 tablespoon mild miso paste (I used sweet white miso; use chickpea miso if you prefer soy-free)
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon sesame oil (not toasted)
1 teaspoon peeled, grated fresh ginger
two-tone gomasio (optional) or sesame seeds
2 tablespoons fermented beets or sauerkraut (optional)
sea salt and black pepper
Place the shallot and vinegar in a large bowl. Add a pinch of salt and toss to combine. Leave to quick-pickle for 5 minutes. Add kale, cabbage, fennel, carrot, and gomasio to the bowl. Massage with clean hands for a minute or two. Add olive oil, chile flakes, and a few grinds of black pepper and toss to combine. Set aside for at least 15 minutes to marinate (or several hours in the fridge – leave at room temp for 10 minutes before serving).
Preheat broiler with a rack positioned about 4 inches below the heating element.
Combine miso, lime juice, sesame oil, and ginger in a small bowl. Whisk until smooth. Season salmon filets with salt and black pepper on both sides. Spoon mixture over salmon, covering the top and sides of the filets. Sprinkle with a pinch of gomasio or sesame seeds.
Heat a heavy-bottomed, oven-safe skillet (such as well-seasoned cast iron) over medium-high heat. Add salmon filets, skin side down, and sear for 3 minutes. Transfer to broiler and cook for 4 to 5 minutes more, to your desired doneness. Transfer salmon filets to a plate and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
To serve, divide salad mixture among two bowls. Top with fermented beets or kraut, if using, and salmon. I like to sprinkle with a pinch of gomasio to finish.