Frivolous Friday: Kale Salad That’s Actually Good

Dino kale in bunch

The trick is to massage the HELL out of it. You’re basically cooking it, only with citric acid instead of heat. Think of it as kale ceviche.

Kale salad is very trendy, or it was until ten minutes ago (Brussels sprouts seem to have taken its place). I’ve seen it on many a restaurant menu. And I’ve inevitably been disappointed when I order it — because nobody makes it as well as Ingrid.

Ingrid will tell you that I am not a fan of the dark leafy greens: I don’t like chard, mustard greens, collard greens, any of that (although I am fond of a spinach salad). But I not only eat kale salad — I enjoy it. I mean, yes, you have to put a bunch of crap in it, you have to fill it up with cheese and dried fruit and fresh fruit and nuts and seeds before I’ll say “Yes, that sounds delicious” — but do all that, and I will happily put it in my face.

There’s a trick to it, though. Here’s the recipe we’ve been using, given to us by our friend Lori. Serves two if it’s your dinner-in-one-bowl, more if it’s a side dish.


One bunch dino kale, a.k.a. dinosaur kale (I guess it’s what some people think dinosaur skin looked like), a.k.a. lacinato kale
Juice from 1/2 lemon or lime
1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt (other coarse salt is probably fine)

As much of the following as you have in your pantry:
Dried cranberries or dried cherries
Fresh fruit, cut up into dice — oranges or tangerines are nice, as are nectarines or plums
Cheese, diced — smoked is especially nice
Smoked tofu, diced
Pepitas, sunflower seeds, pistachios, whatever nuts or seeds sound good to you — toasted if you prefer
Other vegetables if you feel like it: red bell peppers, grated carrots, whatever

Juice from the other 1/2 lemon or lime
1-1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. water
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. honey or agave syrup, or to taste (obviously everything is to taste, it’s salad, put whatever you want in it, dress it however you like, the only crucial proportions are the massaging bits)
1 clove garlic, chopped
Ground black pepper


Wash and stem kale, cut or tear into pieces. Put into large bowl. Mix juice from 1/2 lemon or lime, 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil, 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt: add to kale.

Now, for the important part:

MASSAGE THE HELL OUT OF IT. This is where most restaurants fall down on the job. Most restaurants treat kale salad as if it were lettuce or spinach. They tear it up, throw some other stuff in it, dress it, and stick it under your face as if it were food. But kale is aggressive. It fights back. If you don’t massage it, you’re going to be chewing it for hours. Days, maybe. Millennia would not be a stretch.

So massage the hell out of it. Yes, I mean massage it. Get in there with your hands, and squeeze it, and keep squeezing. Go “scrunch, scrunch, scrunch” with your hands. Massaging kale with citrus juice, olive oil, and salt softens it up. It essentially cooks it. Massage it until it’s soft, as soft as you want it to be. You can let it sit for a bit after massaging it: it’ll just keep softening on its own. I mean, don’t let it sit for days, you’ll basically have a bowl of green slime, but it can happily sit for a while.

Add the other crap: the fruit, nuts, cheese, tofu, whatever.

Make dressing with remaining citrus juice, olive oil, other stuff. You can use fancy flavored olive oil if you like (we used jalapeno olive oil the other night, it gave it a nice little bite). Dress salad. Eat. Feel super-smug and virtuous. Question the whole idea of healthy eating being a moral virtue. Note, as Chris Hall has pointed out, that the left treats food purity the way the right treats religious purity. Best served with potato chips, whiskey, and ice cream.

Frivolous Fridays are the Orbit bloggers’ excuse to post about fun things we care about that may not have serious implications for atheism or social justice. Any day is a good day to write about whatever the heck we’re interested in (hey, we put “culture” in our tagline for a reason), but we sometimes have a hard time giving ourselves permission to do that. This is our way of encouraging each other to take a break from serious topics and have some fun. Check out what some of the other Orbiters are doing!

Frivolous Friday: Kale Salad That’s Actually Good
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One thought on “Frivolous Friday: Kale Salad That’s Actually Good

  1. 1

    In other words, trail mix with dressing still tastes ok, even if some kale fragments are mixed with it. That makes sense to me.
    Especially if it’s then used as a topping on the ice cream, garnished with the potato chips, and chased down with the whiskey. The plan is clear now.

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