Massaged Raw Kale Salad

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Massaged Raw Kale Salad – Kale is a hearty winter green that holds up well in soups and stews. But it’s also wonderful as a salad if you give it a three-minute massage.

Massaged Raw Kale Salad – Kale is a hearty winter green that holds up well in soups and stews. But it's also wonderful as a salad if you give it a three-minute massage.Massaged Raw Kale Salad

Other salads I love are prosciutto wrapped figs with blue cheese, green bean salad and kale salad with quinoa and cranberries.

I realize it might sound odd to massage your greens. But you will be surprised by how this tough green leaf transforms into a tender, light salad. As you rub it with olive oil using your hands, the leaves darken and shrink in size and the texture becomes soft – it’s delicious! Then it’s tossed with lemon juice and grated parmesan cheese. Gluten-free, vegetarian and easy to make.

I can’t believe I never shared a massage kale salad on my blog. I eat them often, sometimes with avocado, or craisins and almonds. So when I got my hands on The Kitchn Cookbook and saw this recipe listed as a side dish in the book, I knew this would be perfect to share.

The Kitchn Cookbook from Apartment Therapy’s cooking site The Kitchn, has great tips for setting up the perfect organized kitchen, storage tips and over 150 recipes with full-page color photographs and a cooking school with 50 lessons  – perfect for the beginner cook, newlyweds, college graduates or anyone learning how to cook.

The best part about this salad is that you can make it, refrigerate it, and it’s still perfect the next day. It won’t get wilted or soggy like lettuce once it’s tossed with dressing. So it’s the perfect salad to make ahead for lunch – just add your favorite salad fixins.

More kale recipes you might enjoy:

Massaged Raw Kale Salad – Kale is a hearty winter green that holds up well in soups and stews. But it's also wonderful as a salad if you give it a three-minute massage.
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4.84 from 6 votes
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Massaged Raw Kale Salad

80 Cals 4 Protein 3 Carbs 6 Fats
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 0 mins
Total Time: 5 mins
Yield: 4 servings
COURSE: Salad, Side Dish
CUISINE: American
Kale is a hearty winter green that holds up well in soups and stews. But it's also wonderful as a salad if you give it a three-minute massage.


  • 1 bunch kale, preferably dinasaur (lacinato), ribs removed and discarded (6 oz total without ribs)
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeeze lemon juice, from 1/2 lemon
  • 1/3 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano


  • Slice the kale into 1/4-inch thin ribbons.
  • In a large bowl combine the kale with oil and salt.
  • Using your hands, massage the kale for 3 minutes until the kale softens.
  • Toss with the lemon juice and grated cheese and serve.


Makes 5 cups. Will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Reprinted with permission from The Kitchn Cookbook.


Serving: 11/4 cups, Calories: 80kcal, Carbohydrates: 3g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 6g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 7mg, Sodium: 304mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g
WW Points Plus: 2
Keywords: kale salad, kale salad ideas, kale salad recipe, massaged kale salad, Massaged Raw Kale Salad

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  1. Trying to understand the nutritional info for this recipe that I love. Does this make 11 servings or am I being obtuse or misreading? Quite possible. 🙂   Thanks. 

  2. So, I enjoyed learning that you can massage kale in order to soften it. And I think the flavors chosen go well with kale.
    But I didn’t particularly enjoy the recipe as-is. It seems most of the readers added something more to it. I think it’s a good kale base for a salad though. And if you’re already a big fan of kale you may not feel that it needs anything more.

  3. I have been on a kale kick for the time being and this is a great anytime salad that can be added to if desired. I usually cut back on amount of oil and am perfectly happy with it. Nice to have a salad that can be made ahead and it holds up very well.

  4. So glad I found this recipe! I’ve been trying to eat more kale, but have a hard time with easy/tasty recipes to use up the whole bag before it goes bad. I made this side salad with my leftover quiche today for lunch, and love it! It worked well with bottled lemon juice, and reduced fat feta cheese! Thank you!!

  5. Fabulous and easy lunch. I added a boiled egg, craisins,, and toasted slivered almonds at serving time.

  6. I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical about this salad but wanted to try something different. THIS KALE SALAD DOES NOT DISAPPOINT!  I added some grilled chicken and WOW. This will be on the weekly menu for sure. 

  7. So easy and delicious, and it holds for days! I’ve made this with the typical, curly kale and with the dinasaur kale.  Both work!  Thank you for another great recipe, Gina!

  8. Greetings!
    I came across your site about an hour and a half ago and still can’t tear myself away! EVERYTHING looks so divinely delicious I want to try it all, right now! Most of all, I want to thank you. 1. You always refer to your husband as your ‘handsome husband’ and it’s a wonderful reminder to me about how much intention words have and that I sometimes don’t tell my beautiful, magical man how amazing he is, so thank you; 2. While your site is not a vegetarian site, the mass array of delectable-looking, healthy, and easy-to-make dishes you present is an absolute God-send!! I am so sick of ‘vegetarian recipe sites’ that show me how to make yet another chilli! So, thank you for helping in such a significant way, for helping my family stay healthy, adventurous in our eating, and eating delightfully delicious foods!!

  9. The photo shows curly kale, but the recipe says lacinato kale. What kale are most of the reviewers using?

  10. can I freeze kale?

  11. while massaging I ad some chopped bottled in oil sun-dried tomato (along with a little of the oil), about a 2 or 3 tbs  of Sweet onion and 4 or five chopped kalamata olives save half to toss after massaging and another 2 tbs of onion.

  12. This is good without the cheese too, if you don’t like/have/have calorie room for it.

  13. If you didn’t care for Kale you will love this. I added chopped apples or cherries and it is to die for. Massaged kale is the best. No bitter after taste. Try it and I promise you will get hooked.

  14. When I was in home ec, lo, those many years ago, we were not allowed to wear any kind of fingernail polish for sanitary reasons. I must say, I was put off by that black fingernail in one of the photos of the salad. Guess that marks my age, but just sayin’. If I were doing a website, I would keep my personal stuff neutral, ie, no polish or clear or natural. Black? Not.

    I discovered kale salads couple of years ago. Wonderful. I grow it, buy it, depending on the season, and just enjoy it. and yes, I massage mine, too. How funny, but it works. It’s my spouse’s favorite these days.

    Thanks, Lib

  15. Today I tried kale massaged, I however added green onions, jalapeno peppers chopped, cilantro chopped, a touch of honey mixed with the lemon juice, broken up fritoes instead of salt..yummo!!!

  16. I eat massaged kale salads all the time. I recently tried pulsing the kale in my food processor until it is in small chopped pieces, it gives it the same consistency as being massaged. I use lemon juice/ olive oil and a touch of honey as a dressing, and mix with toasted pine nuts and fresh parmasean cheese and some dried berries- soooo yummy! Love all your recipes!

  17. Gina I’m so addicted to this recipe! I make it at least once a week. I add tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, and a hard-boiled egg and avocado took this to the next level!  ????

  18. I've only ever had kale cooked into soups and stews and was a bit skeptical about this – but we love it so much I've made up a big bowlful to accompany Christmas dinner! Even the fresh green aroma while massaging is amazing!

  19. refrigerate – then we ate

  20. Simple and delicious! I've never made anything with kale before, so this was a wonderful introduction 🙂 I followed the instruction, found it was a little less citrusy than I liked, so I proceeded to double the lemon. It was then a little more sour than I wanted (whoops!). If I were to make this again, I'd probably go with 1.5 T of lemon, and I think it would be perfect!

  21. Would baby kale work just as well?

  22. I made this as part of our dinner last night, and it turned out pretty good. I added a bit too much salt, and I felt like perhaps our kale could have used a slightly longer massage, but now I know for next time. I'm thinking that adding some garlic might be a good place to start playing with this one!

  23. One addition I like to make to this salad is either a light drizzle of pomegranate syrup or just a handful of pomegranate! Super yummy!!

  24. I made this the weekend after it was posted and we loved it! I added spinach, green onions, and a bit of garlic to the kale mixture. Even my husband couldn't stop eating it and he doesn't usually like "rabbit food", lol.

    In fact, we loved it SO much, i'm now making two LARGE batches for Thanksgiving with our families this week! I'm planning to use kale, spinach, and spring mix, along with green onions, a bit of garlic, and sunflower seeds. I love how simple this salad is! Will definitely be making it over and over again.

  25. This is an excellent recipe and a great way to eat raw kale. It keeps well and is something you can put your own spin on. I added chopped sundried tomatoes. Next batch maybe some dried cranberries, sunflower seeds…lots of options.

  26. This sounds amazing. I usually use spinach in my salad, but the Kale sounds awesome.

  27. This sounds fabulous! Pinning for later! I never massaged kale and I love how simple it is!

  28. This looks so simple yet packed full with flavour, I only recently discovered the magic of kale, so tatsy ;D x

  29. Love this salad…we add craisins, some diced sweet onion, the parmesan and chopped nuts (almonds are my favorite). Massaging the greens make all the difference. Added bonus – unlike more tender salad greens, this dressed kale salad will keep for days in the fridge!

  30. Just had a kale caesar salad with seared ahi on top, it was delicious. The restaurant let's the kale sit in the dressing for 24 hours before they serve it. But I definitely can't wait to try this……

  31. Massaging it? Wow, what a great idea! I like kale but mainly cooked because I don't love the roughness of it when raw. So, I'm definitely trying this, this week!

  32. This reminds me so much of a salad I make that was inspired by Barbuto in New York! Massaged kale is soooo good and it's even better with the lemon juice and parmesan cheese 🙂

  33. I make this all the time and add crushed red pepper. It is addicting.

  34. This may be a very simple recipe, but it's one of the most exciting ones I've seen in quite a while. Thanks for posting it.

  35. I love this kind of salad, and make it all the time! I will often add golden raisins to it, too. Delicious. Sometimes, I'll use nutritional yeast instead of parmesan cheese, which is a good alternative for people who can't or won't eat dairy. It gives that same kind of sharp, savory, nutty flavor, that umami note, that parmesan does.

    • Great idea to use nutritional yeast instead of cheese! I use nutritional yeast all the time and love the flavor, but never thought to use it on salad. Thanks for the great suggestion!

  36. Can you explain a little more about the massage technique? I've eaten a salad like this, but never made one. Massaging is more than just tossing, right? Do you have to really rub the greens between your fingers?

  37. This looks absolutely delicious! I love a tasty and simple kale salad!

  38. That cookbook has "PHO" on the cover! Please tell me you will be putting up a pho recipe soon! Love your site Gina, it has helped me lose nearly 60 pounds!

  39. This looks awesome! I've been making a lot of different kale salads this fall, love yours!

  40. I've made something very similar to this only I've added one finely minced garlic clove and a can of rinsed and drained chickpeas. It's soo yummy!

  41. Perfect. Thanksgiving side dish. Thank you!

  42. I do something similar, 3 cloves of crushed garlic, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, dash of cayenne pepper and some homemade bread crumbs. Sometimes I add some chopped red pepers too

  43. I make a salad with a similar technique but no salt or parm. Instead, I use soy sauce, red pepper (either crushed or ground) and garlic. I was pretty anti-kale but this is one of the only ways I actually like it and I've used it to convert other kale haters.

  44. If you like feta, replace parmesan with it and chop some tomato and files to add. Fresh oregano or cilantro nice addition. The trick is to chop kale finely and get your hands in to it.

  45. I've yet to find a way to make me fall in love with Kale as I wish I could. Going to try this recipe out next!