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, salt it, you name it, kale can do it.
Here’s my kale salad: it’s garlic, lots of crisp lemon and lots of parma. It goes with just about anything and is filling enough to eat on its own. If I had to pick just one salad for the rest of my life, it would be this kale salad. I love it because it’s easy to prepare and keeps amazingly well in the fridge. Hello salad meal preparation! Buy multiple bunches of kale, whip up a huge batch of salad, and live the kale life.
How to make a kale salad
- Prepare the leaves – wash, strip and shred the kale.
- Make the dressing – in a small bowl, whisk together extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, finely grated parma, salt and pepper.
- Dress up the kale – add the kale and the dressing to a large container with a lid. Open the lid and shake everything until all the leaves are evenly covered.
- Eat with abandon – rain some extra cheese and eat ALL THE KALE.
Kale Salad Ingredients
- kale – Dinosaur kale is my top choice for kale. I love how crisp and silky the dinosaur kale leaves are and it’s just the right amount of hearty and earthy.
- olive oil – opt for a pleasant, herbaceous cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil whose flavor you like. This one is nothing fancy, but it’s one of our must-haves.
- lemon – we need the tangy acid of a lemon to awaken all the other flavors in this salad. I also like to add lemon zest for extra brightness and a bit of color. If you want to zest, be sure to do so before squeezing your lemon.
- parma – finely grated fresh parma adds salinity and an umami with cheese and hazelnuts. I love to finish with an extra purple shower because, why not!
- Garlic – there’s raw garlic in this dressing, but the acidity of the lemon juice and olive oil helps soften it up while leaving it a bit of a bite. If you like Caesar salad, this garlic-lemon-parma vinaigrette will definitely give you a Caesar salad vibe.
- salt and freshly ground pepper – don’t forget s & p, they make everything sing.
What kind of kale for kale salad
You can use kale or kale for this kale salad, but I prefer kale for how easy it is to prepare (you can remove the stems very easily) and how pretty it looks when you shred it.
This is the most common type of kale that you set in 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 type of kale! Slender and dark green with slender stems and flat, bumpy, wrinkled leaves.
How to prepare kale
- Washing – clean the leaves well and shake off excess water.
- Undress – Kale stems are super tough and fibrous. Cut them with a knife or tear off the leaves by running your fingers along the ribs.
- Massage or shred – tear the leaves into large pieces and massage them, or use a knife to cut them into thin strips.
Why massage kale?
If you’re a kale salad fan, you’ve probably heard of massaged kale salad. Maybe you are thinking, what the heck? Does kale like days at the spa where they receive hot stone massages and fine fruit water? As fun as imagining kale at 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 harder green, using your fingertips to rub it with oil (fat) and lemon (sour) helps break it down so that it becomes silky and tender, but crispy. The massage breaks down the fibrous and hard cellulose and also has the added benefit of really dressing the leaves so that they become tastier and more flavorful.
When to massage kale
If you are making a kale salad with whole leaves, and not thin slices like this salad, you will probably want to massage your leaves quickly.
The easiest way to massage and dress kale is to put everything in a giant container with a lid. Drizzle over vinaigrette, cover and shake shake shake. The shake will massage and dress the kale at the same time and you won’t have to use your hands to massage. Bonus, you can just leave the salad in the container and put it in your fridge, if you are making kale salad for meal prep. These containers are a perfect match for this recipe.
I saw Mike dressing like this one day and since then it’s a no-brainer my all time favorite way to make salads!
Adding kale salad
This salad is extremely 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, grated carrots, diced broccoli, tomatoes, avocado
- cereals – quinoa, wild rice, farro, barley, chickpeas
What to serve with a kale salad
I often eat kale salad as a whole meal, but if you’re looking for main dishes, try these:
And if you prefer your cooked kale, try these recipes:
The best kale salad
- 2 cloves Garlic crushed
- 1/2 Chopped off Parmigiano Reggiano cheese finely grated, plus a supplement for the garnish
- 1/3 Chopped off olive oil extra virgin favorite
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice about 1 medium lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- lemon zest lemon before squeezing it
- 2 bunches kale favorite lacinato kale, about 8 cups finely chopped
The best kale salad
Quantity per serving
Calories from Fat 172
% Daily Value *
Large 19.1 g29%
Saturated fat 4g25%
Cholesterol 8 mg3%
Sodium 450 mg20%
Potassium 19 mg1%
Carbohydrates 15.2 g5%
Protein 7.6 g15%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.