Raw kale salad recipe: massage your greens

My husband is an urban gardener. Each spring, he trundles off to the nursery, returns home with a trunk full of baby green plants and lovingly transfers them to the raised beds at the side of our house.

kale salad

While he always plants a variety of salad greens, the only ones that don’t seem to attract the slugs and deer are the kale.

kale salad

Consequently, during the summer months we eat a lot of kale! Kale chips, kale sautés and stir-fries, kale in our scrambled eggs and omelettes and smoothies. And now, kale as a replacement for romaine (darn slugs) in our caesar-style raw kale salad!

The trick to eating kale raw is to massage it!

That’s right, squeeze and rub the leaves (after they’ve been washed and the thick, centre spines removed) in your hands until they wilt. Three cups of fresh, raw kale will quickly reduce by about half after handling.

kale salad

Raw kale salad with pine nuts and avocado

  •  6 cups kale leaves, washed and de-stemmed
  • 1/3 pine nuts
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  1. Chop kale leaves into bite size pieces. Massage, by the handful, until wilted and pliable. Place in serving bowl.
  2. Place pine nuts on a non-stick baking sheet and ‘toast’ until golden in a 350 degree oven. Watch them carefully; I have burned more than a few batches.
  3. Combine olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper and parmesan in a bowl. Whisk until smooth.
  4. Pour dressing over kale. Toss to combine. Decorate with avocado slices and serve.
kale salad
Voila! A beautiful, healthy, raw kale salad!

Given the abundance of kale we have in our garden, I’d love to try some new kale recipes!

Do you have a kale recipe to share?

Please do! I’d love to do a ‘kale recipe round-up’ post and include your favourites! 





  1. This looks really yummy, Tamara. I love kale and I love salads. I don’t have a specific kale salad recipe, I just put whatever vegetables I have around.
    Mariella Lombardi recently posted…Free From Extra Pounds Or Captive To A Tipping Scale? Weight Gain on Independence DayMy Profile

    • Ha, ha! I do a lot of ‘eat what needs to be eaten before it goes bad’ cooking too! My favourite is to roast a hodgepodge of veggies then eat them cold for the next few days’ lunches!

  2. I am a five year old.
    but Ill try.
    and yeah. now I want a masssssage for me, too.
    Miz recently posted…Nia: Dance fitness that will surprise you (guest post).My Profile

    • Okay. I didn’t originally find the term funny, but now I’m giggling too!

  3. I am so jealous of your garden! I have no green thumb! Love this recipe…kale is soooo good for you!
    Carissa recently posted…Keepin it 100My Profile

    • Carissa, you don’t need much space to garden! We have several wooden troughs that we fill with dirt and manage to grow lots of greens! (Nothing else does well in our Pacific Northwest climate)

  4. Mmmm… swap that cheese do some nooch and that sounds like my kind of salad!!

    I have spicy kale salad and german chocolate pancakes with kale recipes you might like. I’ll grab those links for you.

  5. Sounds and looks delish! I love that lemon dressing! I make something similar to it (thanks to Mom!) 🙂
    Kierston recently posted…I Am a Spartan BEAST Warrior!!!My Profile

    • I think the lemon really offsets the bitterness in the kale. And yes, moms rock!

  6. I have yet to try it this was but looks delicious. I know Russell James, the raw chef, makes it this way, too.

    I did try purple kale last night. much more fibrous but just as yummy as Parmesan kale chips. 😉
    Christine @ Oatmeal Bowl recently posted…Do I Represent Healthy Living?My Profile

  7. Oh my gosh, I had no idea! Will have to try massaging my greens next time. I LOVE a good raw kale salad. Can’t wait to try this!
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted…Friday Round-UpMy Profile

  8. I am late again~~ BUT worth the wait with a great post & interesting info – that massaging & all. With my dirty mind, I am with Carla! 😉 I still have yet to try kale even with posts I have written & I know how good it is for you but the thought of the taste – I must try – I will.. at some point! 😉

    Thx for the tips as always!!!
    Jody – Fit at 54 recently posted…Rosemary-Apricot Pork TenderloinMy Profile

  9. OMG – I could see the tweet button this time!!!!
    Jody – Fit at 54 recently posted…Rosemary-Apricot Pork TenderloinMy Profile

  10. Looks yummy and healthy! first time to hear about Kale and I’m not sure
    if we have veggie here like this. thanks for sharing yummy and healthy recipe.
    Becca recently posted…24 Hour Electrician WoollahraMy Profile

  11. Ooh, you should try it! If not, what about substituting Swiss Chard?
    Tamara recently posted…Raw kale salad recipe: massage your greensMy Profile

  12. When you massage the kale do you use any salt? When I was first introduced to massaged kale salad, the person who taught me said to use a bit of sea salt on your hands to help break down the kale. Now I’m wondering if that is even necessary. And that recipe looks absolutely delicious.

    • Hi Monique,
      I myself, don’t use salt. I don’t like to add it during meal prep and find that massaging without does the trick just as well. Plus, I find the purple kale to be a bit salty itself!

  13. What! I’ve been wondering how my coworker was enjoying so many raw kale salads when I feel like I’m chewing forever just to get through a bite. I will have to try massaging it in the future (haha). I also use a dressing with lime or lemon and let it sit overnight to break down a little. This recipe looks like a great complement to serve with hot fall dishes!
    Alicia @ Humble Foodie recently posted…Brown Bag Tuesday: Broiled Salmon and Butternut Squash RisottoMy Profile

    • Hi Alicia!
      I love raw kale! You’re right; the lemon juice really does help to tenderize. I’ve never left this salad overnight to see if it gets better; perhaps I will! And the bright green colour does a great job of perking up a winter dinner menu.


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