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Easy Massaged Kale Salad (That Anyone Will Love)

Learn the easy trick to making kale actually taste good with this beautiful massaged kale salad recipe that anyone will love (even the self-proclaimed kale haters).

Just like several vegetables in the cruciferous vegetable family, preparation is key. If they’re not prepared well, these vegetables can taste a little too earthy.

In the same way that humans are more relaxed after a good massage, the same rings true for kale.

Best Kale to Use & The ‘Why’ Behind Massaging It

Some varieties work better than others when it comes to massaging kale.

Curly kale works best due to its fibrous, woody textured leaves. When massaged, these fibers relax and soften, making them both easier to chew and digest.

Lacinato kale (also called dino/dinosaur or Tuscan) can also be massaged, but its leaves are softer and less fibrous, so it doesn’t need nearly as much massaging as the curly variety.

Ingredients

How to Make Massaged Kale Salad

Wash the leaves, pat them dry either with a clean kitchen towel (or use a salad spinner). Remove the stems by pinching the stem with one hand and the bottom of the leaves with your other hand and then pull in opposite direction to pull the leaves off the stem.

Chop the kale leaves into smaller bite-sized pieces and add them to a large bowl.

Peel the skin off your carrot and then using the peeler, keep peeling until you have several strands of carrot ribbons. Either break them up into smaller pieces with your hands or use a knife.

Thinly slice the cabbage (using a knife or mandoline) and give it a rough chop. You want about 1 cup.

Add the carrots and cabbage to the bowl of kale leaves along with the olive oil, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Set a timer and massage the kale for 2 minutes. The volume of leaves will be reduced, the hue will be a deeper green, and the leaves really tender. Taste for proof.

Keep the salad in a sealed container in the fridge until ready to use. Serve with dressing of choice.

Make It Your Way: Ingredient Substitutions

Please remember that recipes are just a starting point.

How can you make this massaged kale salad using what you already have? Here are some ideas

  • No red cabbage? ➝ use green or savoy cabbage, shaved brussels sprouts, bok choy, or 2 colors of rainbow carrots
  • No carrot? ➝ sub beet, one of the options above, or a vegetable of choice
  • No lemon juice? ➝ use a vinegar instead: apple cider, white wine, or similar

Helpful Recipe Tips

Choosing other ‘tough’ veggies?

The cabbage (another cruciferous vegetable), as well as the carrot, can be a little tough on their own, so massaging the salad with these vegetables included helps to soften their texture as well.

Must-have ingredients for massaging

The kale leaves are massaged with a little fat, which helps to soften the leaves and infuse flavor, and an acid, which helps to tenderize them. You can also do this with a vinaigrette (since it contains both of these elements). If doing this, use 1 ½ tablespoons total of vinaigrette.

Don’t forget the dressing

This is what will add heaps of flavor to those tender leaves.

More Salads You’ll Love

Easy Massaged Kale Salad

5 from 2 votes
plates of massaged kale salad
Learn the easy trick to making kale actually taste good with this beautiful massaged kale salad recipe that anyone will love (even the self-proclaimed kale haters).
Prep Time 12 minutes
Total Time 12 minutes

Ingredients
 

  • 1 bunch curly kale, stems removed and discarded
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and ribboned or substitute
  • 1 cup red cabbage, thinly sliced and chopped or substitute
  • tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice or substitute
  • pinch kosher salt
  • salad dressing of choice for topping see notes for ideas

Instructions

  • Wash the leaves, pat them dry either with a clean kitchen towel (or use a salad spinner). Remove the stems by pinching the stem with one hand and the bottom of the leaves with your other hand and then pull in opposite direction to pull the leaves off the stem.
  • Chop the kale leaves into smaller bite-sized pieces and add them to a large bowl.
  • Peel the skin off your carrot and then using the peeler, keep peeling until you have several strands of carrot ribbons. Either break them up into smaller pieces with your hands or use a knife.
  • Thinly slice the cabbage (using a knife or mandoline) and give it a rough chop. You want about 1 cup.
  • Add the carrots and cabbage to the bowl of kale leaves along with the olive oil, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Set a timer and massage the kale for 2 minutes. The volume of leaves will be reduced, the hue will be a deeper green, and the leaves really tender. Taste for proof.
  • Keep the salad in a sealed container in the fridge until ready to use. Just before serving, toss with a dressing of your choice (see notes for ideas).
  • Serves 6 as a side salad.

Notes

  • Choosing other ‘tough’ veggies? The cabbage (another cruciferous vegetable), as well as the carrot, can be a little tough on their own, so massaging the salad with these vegetables included helps to soften their texture as well.
  • Must-have ingredients for massaging. The kale leaves are massaged with a little fat, which helps to soften the leaves and infuse flavor, and an acid, which helps to tenderize them. You can also do this with a vinaigrette (since it contains both of these elements). If doing this, use 1 ½ tablespoons total of vinaigrette.
  • How can you make this massaged kale salad using what you already have? Here are some ideas
    • No red cabbage? ➝ use green or savoy cabbage, shaved brussels sprouts, bok choy, or 2 colors of rainbow carrots
    • No carrot? ➝ sub beet, one of the options above, or a vegetable of choice
    • No lemon juice? ➝ use a vinegar instead: apple cider, white wine, or similar

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