Kale — it’s one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. Of all the leafy greens, kale is king. A staple in our household, we eat it baked into kale chips, steamed in a soup, or massaged as the base of a salad. We always have a bunch of this hearty, nutritious green in our fridge.
Health benefits of Kale
Kale is chock-full of vitamins, minerals, and compounds. A member of the cabbage family, it’s a cruciferous vegetable like cauliflower and broccoli. The most common type of kale is called curly kale, which has green and curly leaves (what I’m using for the recipe, below). It has a hard, fibrous stem. A single cup of raw kale contains high levels of vitamin A, K, and C. It is also a source of fiber and has 3 grams of protein (per cup).
Like other leafy greens, kale contains polyphenols — micronutrients in plant-based foods that are packed with antioxidants. Speaking of antioxidants, one cup of kale contains more vitamin C than a whole orange. Vitamin C is necessary for keeping your cells protected and healthy. Kale is also loaded with compounds that are shown to have protective effects against cancer.
Why do you have to massage Kale?
While it may seem odd to massage your greens, kale is chewy and dense. Once massaged, kale’s tough, green leaves transform into a tender, light salad. As you rub it with olive oil using your hands, the leaves darken and shrink in size. The texture becomes soft and palatable. It’s delicious. Tossed with lemon juice and grated parm, this dense veggie turns into a delightful, gluten-free, and vegetarian salad.
How to make the best kale salad
Remove the ribs. Use a sharp knife to remove the leaves from the stem. Or, use your hands to tear them from the rib.
Chop the kale into bite-sized pieces. Given that it is a denser green, the smaller the kale is chopped, the more palatable it is.
Be generous with salt. Because salt cuts bitterness, sprinkle generously before massaging.
Massage the kale. After adding oil, lemon, and salt to the raw kale, use your hands to massage the kale until it has softened.
Add a flavorful vinaigrette. Garlic-y, zesty, or tahini-based, dressing the kale is key to a delicious salad recipe.
MY Favorite Kale salads
Simple Kale Salad
- 1 bunch kale (curly kale or lacinato work best)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 lemon juiced
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- pinch sea salt
- black pepper to taste
- Wash kale, remove stems, and pat dry.
- Tear of kale leaves and roughly chop into bite-sized pieces.
- Toss chopped kale into a large mixing bowl.
- Add olive oil and lemon juice. Massage with your fingers for 2-3 minutes, or until the kale has softened.
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the kale. Mix with salad tongs to incorporate.