Massaged Kale Salad with Variations

I discovered kale a few years ago and it quickly became one of my favorite vegetables and a frequent guest on our family dinner table. Last time we talked food (one of my kids’ favorite activities) I shared that kale belongs to the big family of cruciferous vegetables. My 4- and 7-year-old kids immediately picked up the idea and created an imaginary veggie family with brussels sprouts as little kids, broccoli as the mom and kale as the dad!
Kale proudly stands up out among its family members by being a truly super vegetable. Just one cup of it, raw and chopped, provides more than 100 percent of the daily value of vitamins A, C and K. In addition, kale—like other brassica vegetables—is very high in sulphoraphane, a potent cancer-fighting chemical.
There are many different ways to prepare kale, from adding it to soups and stews to making kale chips, but the easiest cooking method is giving it a special treatment by preparing a massaged kale salad. Young tender kale and the "dinosaur kale" variety work especially well for this simple-yet-delicious recipe. Making a massaged kale salad can be a fun cooking activity for your children too. Getting their hands dirty in the kitchen is always fun for the little ones.
I adapted this recipe from Eating Well magazine. I typically use it as a base to which I add a variety of ingredients depending on my mood and the contents of the refrigerator.

The best thing about the recipe is that the lemony, pungent dressing offsets the bitterness of this super-vegetable. Even kids will be willing to give it a try.  My children's favorite variation of the basic massaged kale salad is Number 3, the one with bacon, mushrooms and eggs. This combo can be a perfect lunch or a lighter dinner for the whole family.

Massaged Kale Salad (with Three Variations)

Recipe by Natalia Stasenko, MS, RD, CDN

2 bunches kale
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice
1 minced anchovy fillet (optional)
½ tsp. freshly ground pepper
¼ tsp. salt


  1. Strip leaves from the stems, and discard the stems. Wash and dry the leaves.
  2. Tear the leaves into small pieces and place in a large bowl. Add oil, lemon juice, anchovy (if using), pepper and salt. With clean hands, firmly massage and crush the greens to work in the flavoring. Stop when the volume of greens is reduced by about half. The greens should look a little darker and somewhat shiny.
  3. Taste and adjust seasoning with more lemon juice, and/or pepper, if desired.

Variations of the Basic Recipe
Number 1
Add 2 tablespoons slivered almonds, ½ cup chopped shallots, and ½ cup crumbled goat's cheese
Number 2
Add 3 cloves minced garlic, 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and  ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan
Number 3
Add 1 cup sliced and sautéed mushrooms (made with 2 cups or ½ pound fresh mushrooms),  ½ cup cooked bacon pieces (made with 2 slices of uncooked bacon), and 4 boiled eggs that have been chopped roughly.

Natalia Stasenko on FacebookNatalia Stasenko on Twitter
Natalia Stasenko
Natalia Stasenko, MS, RD, is a U.S.-credentialed pediatric dietitian based in London and New York and the owner of Feeding Bytes. She blogs at Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.