Categories: Food & Recipes

The Best Kale Salad · i am a food blog | Selfimprovementblogs

I could eat this kale salad all day, every day.

Kale might just be my all time favorite leafy green. It’s incredibly versatile – you can sauté it, bake it, roast it, stew it, salad it, you name it, kale can do it.

This is my go-to kale salad: it’s garlicky, full of bright lemon, and lots of parm. It goes with practically anything and is hearty enough to eat on its own. If I had to choose only one salad for the rest of my life, it would be this kale salad. I love it because it’s easy to make and keeps incredibly well in the fridge. Hello salad meal prep! Buy several bunches of kale, make a huge batch of salad and live the kale life.

How to make kale salad

  1. Prep the leaves – wash, strip, and shred the kale.
  2. Make the dressing – in a small bowl, whisk together extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, finely grated parm, and salt and pepper.
  3. Dress the kale – add the kale and the dressing to a large container with a lid. Pop the lid on and shake everything up until all the leaves are evenly coated.
  4. Eat with abandon – make it rain extra cheese and eat ALL THE KALE.

Kale salad ingredients

  • kale – dinosaur kale is my top pick for kale. I love how crisp and silky dinosaur kale leaves are and it’s just the right amount of hearty and earthy.
  • olive oil – go for a nice and grassy cold pressed extra virgin olive oil that you like the flavor of. This one isn’t anything fancy but it’s one of our go-tos.
  • lemon – we need the tart acid of a lemon to wake up all the other flavors in this salad. I like adding lemon zest too for extra brightness and a bit of color. If you’re going to zest, just remember to do it before you juice your lemon.
  • parm – fresh finely grated parm adds saltiness and major cheesy, nutty umami. I love finishing with a shower of extra parm because, why not!
  • garlic – there’s raw garlic in this dressing, but the acid from the lemon juice and the olive oil helps mellow it out while still letting it have a bit of a bite. If you love caesar salad, this garlic-lemon-parm dressing will definitely give you caesar salad vibes.
  • salt and freshly ground pepper – don’t forget s&p, they make everything sing.

Curly vs Dino Kale

You can use curly or dino kale for this kale salad, but I prefer dino kale for it’s ease of preparation (you can strip the stems out super easily) and how pretty it its when you shred it.

Curly Kale

This is the most common kind of kale that you set at the grocery store. It’s a deep green with frilly edges and long, thick stems.

Lacinato aka Dinosaur kale or Tuscan kale

This is my favorite kind of kale! Slender and dark green with slim stems and flat-ish leaves that are bumpy and puckered.

How to prep kale for kale salad

  1. Wash – give the leaves a good wash and shake off any excess water.
  2. Strip – kale stems are super tough and fibrous. Slice them away with a knife or rip the leaves off by running your fingers along the ribs.
  3. Massage or shred – either tear the leaves into large pieces and massage, or use a knife to cut into thin shreds.

Why massage kale?

If you’re a kale salad fan, you’ve probably heard of massaged kale salad. Maybe you’re thinking, what the heck? Does kale enjoy spa days where they get hot stone massages and fancy fruit water? As fun as it is imagining kale going to the spa, massaged kale isn’t quite as cute. Literally, massaged kale is kale that has been massaged (or marinated) with oil or lemon.

Because kale is a tougher green, the act of using your fingertips to rub it with oil (fat) and lemon (acid) helps break it down so that it becomes silky and tender, yet crisp. Massaging breaks down the tough, fibrous cellulose and also has the added bonus of really dressing the leaves so they become extra tasty and flavorful.

When to massage kale

If you’re making a kale salad with whole leaves, not thinly sliced ones like this salad, you’ll probably want to give your leaves a quick massage.

Massaging alternatives

The easiest way to massage and dress kale is to pop everything into a giant container with a lid. Drizzle on the dressing, put the lid on and shake shake shake. The shaking will massage and dress the kale at the same time and you don’t have to use your hands to massage. Bonus, you can just leave the salad in the container and pop it in your fridge, if you’re making kale salad for meal prep. These containers fit this recipe perfectly.

I saw Mike dressing salad like this one day and ever since, it’s been a no-brainer, my all time fave way to dress salads!

Kale salad add ins

This salad is immensely customizable, try adding:

  • nuts and seeds – toasted pecans, slivered almonds, walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, toasted sesame seeds, poppy seeds
  • fruit – apples, pears, peaches, oranges, strawberries, cherries, raspberries, blueberries, dried cranberries, dried blueberries, golden raisins
  • protein – eggs, sliced steak, sliced pork, chicken, tofu
    other vegetables – diced onions, sliced radishes, shredded carrots, diced broccoli, tomatoes, avocado
  • grains – quinoa, wild rice, farro, barley, chickpeas

What to serve with kale salad

I often just eat kale salad as a whole meal, but if you’re looking for mains, try these:

And if you prefer your kale cooked, try this recipes:

Happy kale-ing!
xoxo steph

The Best Kale Salad

Kale-ing it!

Serves 4

Prep Time 10 minutes

Cook Time 0 minutes

Total Time 10 minutes

  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese finely grated, plus extra for topping
  • 1/3 cup olive oil extra virgin preferred
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice about 1 medium lemon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • lemon zest from the lemon before you juice it
  • 2 bunches kale lacinato kale preferred, about 8 cups finely chopped

Nutrition Facts

The Best Kale Salad

Amount Per Serving

Calories 252
Calories from Fat 172

% Daily Value*

Fat 19.1g29%

Saturated Fat 4g25%

Cholesterol 8mg3%

Sodium 450mg20%

Potassium 19mg1%

Carbohydrates 15.2g5%

Fiber 2.1g9%

Sugar 0.2g0%

Protein 7.6g15%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


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