I try to keep up with the latest and greatest food trends, but massaged kale somehow slipped under the radar until my daughter mentioned how good it is. When kale is rubbed, or massaged, its cellulose structure breaks down and wilts, so formerly tough leaves become silky. The kale reduces in volume by over half and the leaves take on a subtle sweetness.

Massaging kale is simple: wash and stem the kale, dress it and start rubbing the leaves together. After a couple minutes of vigorous rubbing the kale will have turned into delicate, tender foliage that makes a great base for salad, but can also be added to sandwiches, stir-fries, even pesto.

M A S S A G E D   K A L E   W I T H   D R E S S I N G

2 bunches kale
12 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
13 cup olive oil
14 cup lemon juice
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 minced anchovy fillet
12 tsp. each freshly ground sea salt and pepper
Cut leaves from kale stems, wash and dry. Tear leaves into small pieces and place in a large bowl. Add Parmesan, oil, lemon juice, garlic, soy sauce, anchovy, pepper and salt. With clean hands, firmly massage and crush the greens to work in the flavoring. Stop when volume of greens is reduced by about half. The greens should look a little darker and somewhat shiny. Taste and adjust seasoning.

A friend requested a chocolate beet cake recipe, and this one is borrowed from David Lebovitz, who in turn has riffed on a recipe from Nigel Slater. This cake can be made gluten-free by substituting 34 cup finely ground almonds for the flour.

C H O C O L A T E   B E E T   C A K E

12 pound beets, unpeeled, rinsed and scrubbed clean
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
14 cup hot espresso (or water)
1 stick butter, cubed
1 cup flour
3 Tbsp. unsweetened dark cocoa powder
114 tsp. baking powder
5 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
18 tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
Grease an 8-inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350º. Boil beets in salted water until tender, about 45 minutes. Drain, then rinse beets with cold water. When cool enough to handle, slip off peels, cut beets into chunks, and pulse in a food processor until you get a coarse puree. (If you don't have a food processor, use a cheese grater.)

In a large bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, melt chocolate, stirring as little as possible. Once it's nearly all melted, turn off heat (but leave the bowl over the warm water), pour in the hot espresso and stir it once. Then add the butter pieces and allow them to soften without stirring. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt together in a separate bowl. Remove the bowl of chocolate from the heat and stir until the butter is melted. Let sit for a few minutes to cool, then briskly stir egg yolks into melted chocolate mixture. Fold in the beets. Whip egg whites until stiff. Gradually fold sugar into whipped egg whites with a spatula, then fold them into the melted chocolate mixture, being careful not to overmix. Fold in the flour and cocoa powder. Scrape batter into prepared cake pan, reduce oven temperature to 325º, and bake cake for 40 minutes, or until sides are set but the center is still a bit wobbly. Do not overbake. Let cake cool completely, then remove it from the pan. Serve with whipped cream or mascarpone.

We have a bumper crop of long-necked butternut squash to use in pies, soups, risottos or these potstickers.

S Q U A S H - F I L L E D   P O T S T I C K E R S

1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 12-inch pieces
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
3 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
14 tsp. salt
2 scallions, white and pale-green parts only, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. grated peeled fresh ginger
20 wonton wrappers
14 cup canola oil
Put squash, 2 Tbsp. soy sauce, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Cover with water; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until squash is very soft, about 12 minutes; drain. Transfer to a medium bowl; mash with a fork until smooth. Stir in scallions and ginger. Place 1 scant Tbsp. filling in the center of each wrapper; brush edges with water. Bring up corners to make a triangle; press to seal. Place on a baking sheet; freeze until firm, 10 to 15 minutes.

Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add 10 potstickers, and cook, shaking pan frequently, until bottoms are golden brown. Turn pot stickers over; carefully pour in 12 cup water, and cover. Steam until most liquid is evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish; cover with foil to keep warm. Repeat with remaining oil and potstickers. Serve with dipping sauce.

D I P P I N G   S A U C E

2 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
2 medium scallions, minced
4 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. hot red pepper flakes
1 cup soy sauce
34 cup rice wine vinegar
114 cups water
4 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
14 cup sesame seeds
In a saucepan, heat toasted sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add scallion, garlic and red pepper flakes. Lower heat to medium and cook, stirring, 3 to 5 minutes or until garlic starts browning. Increase heat to high and stir in soy sauce, vinegar and water and bring to a boil. Add dark brown sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved. Lower heat to low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often. Add sesame seeds. Makes about 3 cups. (Can be refrigerated in airtight container for a week.)