Kale, Sunflower Sprout, and Black Olive Salad (gluten free, vegan)

This salad is quick and really tasty and uses many of my absolutely favorite ingredients.  I'll put a photo up later today.  How can you go wrong with kale as a base?  And I love using sunflower sprouts.  Although I'm quite an experienced sprouter, I've never tried sprouting sunflower seeds; instead, I buy trays of live sunflower sprouts from my local co-op.  The sprouts are long and crunchy and wonderful, and make great additions to salads and wraps.  This salad also uses black olives; my favorite ones are from France, packed in oil and salt and flavored with lots of thyme.  They are wrinkly and dark and saltly and oh-so-delicious.  If you can't have vinegar, make sure to find olives that are packed in water, salt, or oil - many black olives are usually safe, whereas kalamatas and green olives are often packed in vinegar.  Many nicer grocery stores and food co-ops have bulk olive selections or pack their own; you are likely to find something that is free of vinegar!  Choose to make the vinagrette for this salad, or just sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper.  

serves 2
1/2 bunch kale
1 tray sunflower sprouts
1/4 c black olives, pitted
pinch thyme
1-2 T sunflower, flax, or olive oil
1-2 tsp ume vinegar* or lemon juice
fresh cracked pepper
raw or toasted sunflower seeds
  1. Wash kale well.  Cut out the rib from each leaf, then coarsely chop leaves.  Place chopped kale in pot of boiling water, and blanch until leaves are soft and bright green.  Dump kale and water through strainer, and let kale drain completely and cool to room temperature.
  2. Cut sunflower sprouts from tray and wash.  If they are long, cut sprouts in half.
  3. If desired, slice olives.
  4. In small bowl, whisk together oil, ume vinegar/lemon juice, and thyme until well mixed.
  5. Arrange kale, sprouts, and olives in 1 large serving bowl or in 2 smaller bowls.  Drizzle dressing over salad, and sprinkle on fresh cracked pepper.  Garnish with sunflower seeds, if desired.
Enjoy!  Great served alongside a hearty bean soup or a nice piece of fresh fish.
*Ume vinegar is made from the leftover juice from the pickling process of ume plums; it is not a true vinegar, but really a brine.  It is used a lot in macrobiotic cooking and makes a great seasoning.  Because it isn't really a vinegar, and is said to have an alkalizing effect, a lot of things I've read say that it is well tolerated by people dealing with Candida or by those who have sensitivities to yeasts.  So, give it a shot!  Eden Foods makes an ume vinegar that is easy to find at natural foods stores.