Raw Kale Salads

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Kale!   It’s what’s for dinner!  No longer just for green smoothies and plate garnishes!  Kale is the new mean, green antioxidant filled fighting machine in town!  For 2013 spinach is out and kale is in!  All different types of this delicious dark green are popping up in grocery stores, farmer’s markets and restaurant menus.  Purple kale, siberian kale, curly kale, red russian kale and even dinosaur kale!  It’s raw, cooked, juiced, and pureed into smoothies.  It’s seems this country is becoming obsessed with kale!

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kale, kale salads, kale recipes, raw kale salad, vegetarian recipes, salad recipes Now, I know some of you may be rolling your eyes, wondering why people are so overly enthusiastic about this “green, bitter tasting, weed-like” of a vegetable.  Something that’s only supposed to be on the side of our plates at restaurants as garnish.  But I’m here to tell you that there’s something to this whole “kale movement.”  And you know me, I would never steer you wrong when it comes to delicious food!

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kale, kale salads, kale recipes, raw kale salad, vegetarian recipes, salad recipes Kale can definitely be bitter.  It can also most certainly be…very fibrous?  But it can be super tasty too.  My personal favorite way to eat lots and lots of kale is with raw kale salads.  And no, it’s not like eating a bowl of green cardboard!  If prepared correctly, raw kale can actually be quite the dinner time treat!  Really, it can be!  It just takes a few tips and tricks to understand to how get kale to shine in your next salad!

  • Massage the kale!  Kale has had a rough past – deemed inedible by most.  So give it some pay back with a nice massage….with olive oil and a pinch of salt!  Massaging your kale (rub/squeeze/squish with your hands) for just a minute or two will help begin to soften and break down the leaves.  Ultimately this will make the kale quite a bit more tender.
  • Plan ahead 30 minutes.  After you massage the kale let it hang out in your salad bowl for about 20-30 minutes.  This allows the afore-mentioned olive oil and salt to continue to soften and tenderize the leaves.  It also causes them to wilt slightly which helps the leaves to be a bit more manageable when serving and eating.
  • Add a nutty spice.  Nutmeg specifically!  Nutmeg is great on dark greens.  It kinda makes them…not as bitter?  Just a pinch of nutmeg in the dressing or mixed in during the massaging process will really bring out the earthy and grassy flavors of the kale in addition to hiding some of its inherent bitterness.
  • Add some sweetness.  This may just be my personal opinion, but I really think this takes plain kale over the top – adding dried fruit, fresh fruit, roasted or steamed beets or even candied nuts of some sort.  The sweetness and even the tartness of fruit tastes exceptionally delicious with kale!
  • Bring on the salt!  OK…not too much salt.  You know I can’t really endorse over salting foods as an RD.  But, I’m not gonna lie, kale tastes REAL good with maybe just a little extra salt or salty ingredients like shaved parmesan cheese, feta cheese or salty nuts.
  • De-rib the kale.  Most types of kale have a big, fat, tough and very bitter center rib.  Some people may eat this, I do not.  Not too tasty in my opinion.  Rip or cut this part out and toss it.  The very ends of the rib where it’s small and more tender are fine to eat.
  • Ease into kale.  Not ready for a full on bowl of raw kale?  Try mixing half kale and half spinach/arugula/romaine or other favorite lettuces.  You’ll get the flavor and texture of the kale, but it won’t overwhelm you!

kale, kale salads, kale recipes, raw kale salad, vegetarian recipes, salad recipes

kale, kale salads, kale recipes, raw kale salad, vegetarian recipes, salad recipes Now that you have all my secret kale cooking and eating tips, I hope you go home and make a raw kale salad.  Like tonight!  Need a good raw kale salad recipe?  Well, what do you know, I just happen have one for you (see pictures above).  It’s super simple, quick and very delicious…and full of kale.  Enjoy!  Oh and PS – kale keeps really well as leftovers – I’m guessing from the super high fiber content – so leftover salad is great for lunch the next day!

Kale Salad With Shaved Parmesan & Pine Nuts:

  • 1 bunch of dinosaur/tuscan/lacinato kale (or any other kale varieties you like), roughly chopped
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup shaved parmesan cheese (use a vegetable peeler to make long cheese shavings)
  • 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper


  1. In a large bowl, add in all the kale plus about 1-2 tbsp of the olive oil and 1/2 of the salt.  Massage and set aside for 20 minutes.
  2. After kale has set, add in the arugula, pine nuts, lemon juice, remaining olive oil and salt and pepper.  Mix together throughly.  Check for seasoning.
  3. Lastly top the salad or individual plates of salad with the parmesan cheese shavings.  Serve immediately.


  1. rika@veganmiam.com

    August 7, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    Don’t we all love massaged kale salads?! I love my kale salad with a squeeze of lemon, olive oil, shallots and salt & pepper. It’s easy to make and to go! I use vegan Parmesan by Parmela (tastes nearly like Parmesan compared to other vegan products I’ve tried) for the kale salad 🙂

    • mewinebrenner

      August 7, 2013 at 9:41 pm

      Kale salads are definitely tasty! I will have to try out that vegan cheese – I’m always looking for new vegan products!

  2. Todd @ HonestlyYUM

    August 12, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    So much good stuff here! What an informative post. I hate to jump on the bandwagon, but I’m all about kale these days. Thanks for sharing!!

    • mewinebrenner

      August 12, 2013 at 1:40 pm

      Thanks! Kale is delicious! I don’t think you’re jumping the bandwagon at all – you’re right on time!

  3. Kiersten @ Oh My Veggies

    August 12, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    Ooh, this salad sounds SO GOOD. I love that combination of pine nuts + lemon juice + parm. And on kale! Even better! 😀

    • mewinebrenner

      August 13, 2013 at 9:06 am

      I agree! Not sure what it is about that combo, but you sprinkle toasted pine nuts on anything and I’ll eat it. Same with parmesan cheese!!

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