Massaged Kale Salad with Garlicky Lemon Dressing

After spending years stumped by “what is your favorite food” questions, I realized my answer is rather surprising.


Raw in salad, sauteed with garlic, on pizza, or whirled into a smoothie,  kale is an integral part of my diet. I love its texture and flavor, it keeps me full, and its just so darn good for you!

This is more of a template than a recipe, you can take the concept of a kale salad in many directions. Top with any combination of goodies you have on hand. This recipe makes a bright, springy dressing with a fresh kick from the garlic.

Full recipe after the jump…


2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

juice of 1/2 lemon

1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard


1 bunch curly green kale

small handful freshly grated parmesan or pecorino cheese

any combination of nuts, fruit, herbs & vegetables to top; I used toasted almonds, radishes and scallions

Make a paste of the garlic and salt in a mortar and pestle or on a cutting board with the flat of a chefs knife. The paste ensures a creamy emulsion and even garlic flavor — no one wants to bite into a big chunk of raw garlic!
Add olive oil and red pepper flakes, if using, and allow oil to steep for at least 15 minutes.

Wash and tear kale away from stem, into bite size pieces. Finish the dressing by adding the lemon juice and dijon; taste and adjust seasoning. If your lemon is especially acidic, add a drizzle of honey. If you think it needs more salt, hold off as the cheese is quite salty.

Dress the kale, using your hands to distribute the dressing evenly over the leaves. Don’t be too gentle with curly kale, as you squeeze and massage the leaves, they color will brighten, this is what you’re after.* Allow kale to sit for a minimum of 20 minutes before serving; the acid in the dressing actually “cooks” the kale a bit, tenderizing it and allowing the flavors in the dressing to meld.

Toss with grated cheese, top as desired and serve. Have fun with it, this salad is endlessly adaptable.

*Note: if using the more delicate lacinato (tuscan) kale, treat the leaves a bit more delicately.


Alternative dressing ideas:

Creamy Avocado Vinagrette with Lime — from Back to Her Roots

Creamy Feta Dressing with Balsamic and Greek Yogurt — from

Or go Asian with a Carrot Ginger Dressing — from Smitten Kitchen


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