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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

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. Other kale salads I love are kale salad with quinoa and cranberries and this Harvest Kale Salad.

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 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

4.84 from 6 votes
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.
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
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.
Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 5 mins
Yield: 4 servings
Serving Size: 1 1/4 cups


  • 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.

Last Step:

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


Serving: 1 1/4 cups, Calories: 80 kcal, Carbohydrates: 3 g, Protein: 4 g, Fat: 6 g, Saturated Fat: 2 g, Cholesterol: 7 mg, Sodium: 304 mg, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 1 g


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58 comments on “Massaged Raw Kale Salad”

  1. 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. 

  2. 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!

  3. 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!!

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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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!!!

  9. 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!

  10. 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!  ????

  11. 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!

  12. 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!

  13. 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!

  14. 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!!

  15. Avatar photo
    Monique Lucero

    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.

  16. 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.