Simple Kale Salad
Nov 14, 2023
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You’ll love this simple, yet flavorful kale salad! After a little massage with garlic-infused oil and lemon juice, the kale leaves become tender and light. And while the freshly shaved parmesan is optional, I highly recommend it for a savory, cheesy touch.
When I need a quick and fresh side dish, I turn to this kale salad recipe every time. It may be simple, but that’s the beauty of it. It’s tender yet crunchy, savory yet tangy, and made in under 15 minutes.
Enjoy its simplicity with freshly shaved parmesan or slivered almonds on top. But if you’d like to zhuzh it up a bit, you can also use this recipe as a base to make a roasted beet and kale salad or kale salad with apples and chicken. However you make your kale salad, the key is to massage the leaves, which I’ll go into more detail below!
Kale Salad Ingredients
- Kale: Any variety of kale can be used in this recipe, from curly kale to Tuscan kale.
- Garlic-Infused Oil: A quick sauté with fresh garlic and oil will create a delicious oil to massage your kale with.
- Salad Mix-Ins: Fresh lemon juice, salt, and black pepper tie this salad together. But I also love adding freshly shaved parmesan on top at the end.
Find the printable recipe with measurements below.
How To Make Kale Salad
Sauté the garlic. In a small skillet, heat the olive oil and add the minced garlic. Cook for about 30 seconds until fragrant, then set it aside to cool.
Remove the kale leaves. Prep the kale by removing the leaves from the stems and roughly chopping (or tearing) the leaves into bite-sized pieces.
Get massaging. Place the kale pieces in a large bowl and add the cooled oil, minced garlic, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper. Gently massage the kale with your hands for about 2 minutes until the leaves are well coated and start to wilt. The kale should reduce in volume by about 30%. Just remember that you don’t want to over-massage your kale, otherwise it will start to look a bit lifeless.
Why YOU SHOULD MASSAGE KALE
I get it, it might sound strange to massage your kale at first. But trust me, it’s the best way to enjoy raw kale on its own.
Massaging kale transforms its tough and stiff texture into soft, tender leaves with less bitterness. To give you a reference, have you ever ordered a kale salad at a restaurant to find that it’s extremely airy and light? Well guess what? It’s been given a nice little massage in the back kitchen to make it more palatable.
The Different Types of Kale
When it comes to kale, each one has its own strengths. Here’s a quick overview of the different types:
- Curly Kale: This is the most common type of kale you will see at your local market. It’s wavy, curly edges give it that nice crispy texture, making it great for salads or sautéed dishes.
- Tuscan Kale (Lacinato Kale or Dinosaur Kale): This kale is more tender and slightly thinner, which means it cooks more quickly. Toss this in a nice hearty soup or slice it into a slaw. Just make sure you don’t overcook it as its chewy texture will disappear.
- Red Kale: Also known as “scarlet kale,” is very similar to curly kale except for its appearance. Its ruffled leaves can range from a deep red to purple color, but can be tossed into salads or seared in a quick sautée.
- Baby Kale: This is a younger version of kale, and is more likely to be found in a box of salad greens. A hint that you’re better off using this to complement other greens in a salad.
More Kale Recipes
- Kale Chips: The easiest way to get crispy veggie chips!
- Kale and Butternut Squash Frittata: A delicious way to incorporate kale into breakfast.
- Green Juice: Keep your juices nutrient-dense with kale.
- Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash: The perfect veggie-heavy breakfast.
- Colcannon: Amp up mashed potatoes with extra greens!
I hope you enjoy this kale salad as much as I do. If you make it, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the recipe in the comment box below. Your review will help other readers in the community.
Simple Kale Salad
- 1 bunch kale
- 1 lemon, juiced (about 3 tablespoons)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup shaved parmesan cheese
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Saute the garlic. In a small skillet, heat the olive oil and add the minced garlic. Saute the garlic over medium heat for about 30 seconds. Set the garlic infused oil aside to cool.
- Remove the kale leaves. Prepare the kale by removing the leaves from the stems and roughly chopping or tearing the leaves into bite-sized pieces.
- Add ingredients and massage. Place the kale in a large bowl. Add the cooled oil and garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Then gently massage the kale for a minute or two with your hands, or until the leaves start to wilt.
- Garnish. Top the kale salad off with freshly shaved parmesan and serve.
- Kale is a pretty durable green. You can store this salad for up to 3 to 4 days in a sealed container in your fridge.
- When it comes to juicing lemons, my little stainless steel juicer can’t be beat.
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Recipe originally published September 2019, but updated to include new photos and information for your benefit!