How to make a massaged kale salad

So I talk a lot about massaged kale salads on here. And lately I’ve been getting questions about what the heck a massaged kale salad is. I guess the name does sound kind of funny when you think about it.

Massaged kale salad

Luckily I’m an expert at explaining this salad. Last year for one of my nutrition classes we had to do a demonstration, and I chose to do a massaged kale salad. So I donned my favourite apron, put on my best chef persona, and pretended I was the host of a Food Network Show called “Cooking Healthy with Chelsea”. Kind of has a nice ring to it doesn’t it?

Anyway, today I’ll try to replicate it in blog format for you guys – sorry, no videos of my corny presentation though!

So to answer the initial question of what the heck is a massaged kale salad: it’s a kale salad (duh) where you rub a fat and acid into the leaves. This helps to wilt the leaves so that they soften, and the fat actually helps to cut down on some of the bitterness of the leaf.

There are lots of different ways you can do this, but here’s how I make mine:

massaged kale salad

Massaged kale salad
Serves 2-4

Half a large bunch of kale
2-3 tbsp lemon juice
Half an avocado
Generous sprinkle of salt

1. Tear the kale into bite sized pieces, then wash and dry in a salad spinner. The drier the better!

2. Mash the avocado in a small bowl until it is mushy.

3. In a large bowl, drizzle the lemon juice over the kale. Now here’s where you get your hands dirty! Add the avocado to the bowl as well, then roll up your sleeves and use your hands to “massage” the avocado and lemon juice into the kale. It should feel sort of like kneading bread. This might take 2-3 minutes or longer. You’ll know you’re done when the kale has darkened and wilted.

massaged kale salad

4. Sprinkle salt over the salad and toss to mix. Whatever you do, don’t skip this step – the salt really brings out the flavours.

Ta da! You now have a massaged kale salad. It actually tastes pretty good on its own, but I usually jazz it up with toppings and a dressing. Some of my favourite flavours to pair with this base are tahini, avocado, carrots, nori, lemon soy grilled tofu, nutritional yeast, hummus, and parsley. I would love to hear any of your ideas too!

massaged kale salad

Have you ever made a massaged kale salad?

What’s your favourite way to eat kale?


Filed under food and cooking, recipe

37 Responses to How to make a massaged kale salad

  1. No, I’ve never made massage kale salad, but I don’t know what I’m waiting for because it looks so easy. I definitely need to try it asap! My favorite way to eat kale is boiled and after squeezing the water out, seasoned with olive oil, garlic and salt/pepper. Yum!

  2. i’ve never made a massaged kale salad but now i may try! :)

  3. I JUST MADE THIS FOR MY LUNCH TODAY. I’m excited for 12pm to arrive!

    I added sun dried tomatoes, nutritional yeast & a crumbled tempeh burger. YUM YUM.

    • Chelsea

      Mmm I love your additions! I’m actually on a bit of a sun dried tomato kick right now. They’re one of those jars I just always forget I have in my fridge, but every so often I remember and start adding them to everything!

  4. Confession: after 1 or 2 really bad experiences with kale, I pretty much swore it off for good. I -want- to believe you that massaging it cuts down on the bitterness, but it’s hard to get over a 5-year bias :lol: I do love the idea of using avocado, though. I may just have to give kale one more chance…

  5. Can you please have your own shown on the food network?!??! I would be your #1 fan. Like Arman I laugh everytime I hear massaged kale but it does taste amazing!

  6. If you had a food network show, I’d watch! (although I’d have to get some sort of crazy package to get it….WHY did they remove the food network from the basic cable package in London? Not cool). And you know I have a bit of a bias against kale, but I’ve never tried to massage it (so awkward) with avocado…I don’t like the bitterness, but if that cuts it then maybe that’s a method I could stand to try?

    • Chelsea

      Ugh I know right? I got so frustrated about that my last year in London!! You should start a petition!

      Massaging definitely cuts the bitterness, so you might like it? Especially with a lemon tahini dressing – it helps to mask the flavour even more! And if you don’t like that, then I think you might just have to give up on trying to like kale lol. :P

  7. Yum! Avocado, nooch and sundried tomatoes are staples in mine- SO GOOD! Thank goodness massaging kale is so delicious, I can’t be bothered to steam it most days!

  8. I love massaged kale salads… as funny as it is. I love to top mine with avocado, sunflower seeds, and dried cranberries.

  9. I rarely buy kale but when I do, I usually make chips out of them, love this sound of this salad. You had me at “creamy avocado” ;)! And just for the record, I’d totally watch a cooking show hosted by you.

  10. i love baking kale chips! got that idea from a recipe online and it was so yummy.

  11. No Chelsea it does not sound funny, it sounds X rated. But I like it.

    Thank you so much for this tutorial- I swear it must have been a sign when I went to the supermarket last night and randomly bought kale, only to see this post later! Perfect timing.

    You should get that cooking show happening- then chuck a pie in Martha Stewart’s face.

  12. So this must have been what you had before the women’s show when you said it had moisturized your hands! I’m not usually a fan of kale, but if this removes some of the bitterness than maybe I would like it better. Kale is usually a really good price so it would be great if I did like it! I totally wish I could have seen that demonstration live!

    • Chelsea

      Haha yup, this is what I made! I think it’s definitely worth a try, even if you don’t like kale. Topping it with a tahini lemon dressing helps mask the flavour of kale even more!

  13. As you know, I am sooo not a fan of kale! However, when made correctly, it can be tasty and your method may be way I’ll give that green another go!

  14. Usually my favourite form of eating kale includes kale chips, but I actually have never had massaged kale before!! I worry I’ll be put of by the texture but this seems to be pretty easy so maybe I should try it before assuming I’ll hate it.

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  16. This looks delicious! I personally have always loved kale chips but I’ll have to try this one for sure.

  17. I want to be that kale. I need a massage so badly! AH HH AH AH!

  18. Eating kale as I write this!Tonight I sauteed it lightly with some apple cider vinaigrette, garlic, rosemary, basil and black pepper-alongside a fillet of pan-seared rainbow trout. A quick dinner fit for a nutritional science student like myself :)

  19. Haha! As SOON as I opened this in my reader, I was thinking of tweeting it to Arman! I’ve made a few massaged kale salads, but most of the time I just throw it in a bowl with some other greens and eat it as is…or my latest obsession: kale chips!

    That name DOES have a ring to it! You better copyright that STAT! ;)

    • Chelsea

      Haha good idea. I can’t have anyone stealing it on me before I get a chance to approach the Food Network execs with my idea! ;)

  20. I have actually never made a messaged kale salad :( but I really want to get creative in the kitchen again (in a bit of a funk!) and this seems like an easy way to start once all of the holiday leftovers are gone!

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