This delicious massaged kale salad is so easy to make and absolutely delicious! Great on its own, but can also be used for a healthy lunch or dinner idea as well.
There's a new go-to salad and it's all thanks to my bff/cousin. We had a girl's weekend in Maine recently and she ended up doing a lot of the dinner cooking. On the first night, she made this recipe. I was instantly hooked. It has all the ingredients I love and couldn't be easier to make.
I've since made it for my brother, my parents, and Matt. This massaged kale salad is legit on repeat.
And once I make a recipe that much, I know you need it too. So that's what I'm giving you today – what I'm calling the best-ever massaged kale salad. Because it's honestly, the best EVER.
Ingredients for Massaged Kale Salad
What you're going to love about this salad is the short ingredient list. It's only 5 main ingredients, with an optional 6 for flavor!
Here's what we're using:
- Kale: I like to use curly kale, but any variety will work. I've also used thinly sliced lacinato kale and that was delish.
- Oil: I recommend olive oil just because it has a nice flavor, but avocado is another option. Skip the unhealthy oils!
- Lemon juice: this adds brightness and acidity and helps to soften the kale's texture.
- Salt: because every salad needs a little salt! I recommend pink Himalayan sea salt.
- Nutritional yeast: the main flavor booster of this salad – it's cheesy, it's high protein and it's SO good!
And then the 6th optional ingredient is garlic powder. If you want to use it to boost flavor, go for it. If not, skipping it is still totally fine!
Why Do You Need to Massage Kale?
Before we talk about how let's talk about why. You've probably heard of a massaged kale salad before – or seen them on a menu before – but like why do you actually need to massage your kale?
The simple answer is: kale is tough.
Unlike most greens, kale is pretty fibrous and hearty. It's not like lettuce which is pretty delicate. So in order to make the kale more palatable, you need to soften it. And that's where massaging comes in.
There are two main benefits of massaging kale:
- It breaks down the cell walls in the leaves and softens them
- It makes the kale easier to chew and ultimately digest
How to Massage Kale for Salad
And what's even better, massaging kale is so easy.
All you need to do is add your kale into a bowl. Top it with your oil and acid (in this case lemon) and get in there with your hands. And literally message it.
You're like squeezing it between your palms, rubbing the leaves, etc. And after about a minute or two, the kale will be beautifully soft and tender!
Make Your Massaged Kale Salad a Meal!
I like to think of this recipe as either a base salad or a side. We've been eating it a lot as a side dish, but it can totally be turned into a heartier meal by adding in more toppings.
Here's what I would focus on:
- Protein: this is great with pretty much any protein type! You see crispy tofu in that photo, but I've also done it with chickpeas, salmon, and Matt has had it with chicken. It works with pretty much everything.
- Fat: add in some avocado, nuts or seeds to amp up the fat content a bit.
- Veggies: tossing on some extra veggies also helps fill it out. I love adding in shredded cabbage, roasted broccoli, scallions and cucumber.
- Carbohydrates: and the last thing to consider adding is a starch. We love putting roasted sweet potato or roasted potatoes on top of our salads (like in my Healthy Salmon Salad), and this works really well for that!
Essentially, this is the salad to end all salads. This is a salad that you'll make for dinner parties, or your lunch, or if you're feeling lazy and want a quick dinner.
Kind of like a lifesaver salad. Because honestly…sometimes we all need a salad to carry us through.
More Delicious Recipes that Use Kale:
- Vegan Nacho Cheesy Kale Chips
- Asian Kale Quinoa Salad
- Sweet Potato & Kale Quinoa Spring Rolls
- Tuscan Kale & White Bean Stew
- Quinoa Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Best Ever Massaged Kale Salad
- If your kale is not prechopped, you'll need to first remove it from the stem. Start at the bottom of the leaf and place your fingers gently around the stem. With a quick motion up, tear the leaves off the stem. Then tear that larger piece into smaller pieces and add them to your bowl.
- To the bowl with the kale add the olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt and garlic powder. Massage with your hands for about 1 minute until the kale is wilted and soft.
- Add the nutritional yeast and message to combine (about 10 times).
- Serve immediately or top with your desired toppings!