This massaged kale salad is the perfect winter salad recipe; massaging the kale makes it taste tender and sweet! It’s paired with pomegranate seeds and an apple cider vinaigrette.
Meet your new favorite salad: the massaged kale salad. Massaged what? We know, we know. Massaging kale might sound strange—and maybe a little odd (like something out of Portlandia). And yes, it’s a little of both. The massage tenderizes the kale and removes the bitter taste, leaving soft and lightly sweet leaves that are suitable as salad greens. We combined the kale with apple, pomegranate seeds, and an apple cider vinaigrette, and it was a delicious side salad for a cozy meal. Keep reading for the massaged kale salad recipe and more about massaging—yes massaging!—your favorite green vegetable.
How to massage kale
OK really: how to massage kale? Well, it’s exactly as it sounds. You take the kale leaves and you, well, massage them! The cool thing about massaging the kale leaves is that it makes them tender and sweet tasting instead of crisp and bitter tasting. If you’ve ever tried raw kale, you know what I’m talking about! A raw kale leaf isn’t something to write home about. But after it’s been massaged….well, it’s a different story!
To massage kale, you first destem the kale and chop it into pieces. Then you sprinkle it with a pinch of kosher salt. Then, coat your hands with a few drops of olive oil and massage the kale leaves for 2 to 3 minutes until all pieces are tender. That’s it! It sounds mystifying but it’s actually very simple. And you can taste the difference right away.
How to plan a menu
This massaged kale salad is a fantastic component for a fall or winter menu. Are you planning a menu? Putting together dishes that complement each other is difficult. For me, this was the hardest part of cooking for me when I started. I would pour over books with menu plans trying to understand the art of putting together a cohesive menu. Here are a few menu planning tips we use
- Create contrasts. Think about contrasting elements, both between recipes and within recipes. This bright and crisp kale pomegranate salad pairs well with mushy, savory comfort foods that are typical in fall or winter.
- Think in colors. This salad adds a well needed burst of color to a fall or winter tablescape. When planning a menu, we always think of the colors that are represented in all of the dishes: since we eat with our eyes first!
- Focus on nutrients. A crisp green massaged kale salad is a great way to bring in needed nutrients to a fall or winter meal, which can tend towards heavier comfort food.
A few timer saver tips for integrating this massaged kale salad into a meal: you can chop the kale in advance and massage before serving. In some grocery stores, you can also find seeded pomegranate, which can help with the prep time. And of course, you can whisk up the dressing in advance and refrigerate: just bring it to room temperature before serving.
Looking for Thanksgiving recipes?
This massaged kale salad is a lovely idea for Thanksgiving! Here are few more Thanksgiving recipes on A Couple Cooks:
- Pomegranate Cider Spritzer
- Stuffed Delicata Squash with Wild Rice, Brown Butter and Sage
- Garlic and Chive Mashed Sweet Potatoes
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pecorino and Pecans
- Poached Pears with Pecan Granola and Whipped Cream
Looking for more salad recipes?
Outside of this massaged kale salad recipe, here are a few more salad recipes on A Couple Cooks:
- Strawberry Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Pomegranate
- Vegan Italian Pasta Salad
- Vegetarian Cobb Salad
- Beet Salad with Blue Cheese
- Apple Manchego Salad
This recipe is…
This massaged kale pomegranate salad is vegetarian, vegan, plant based, dairy free, naturally sweet, and refined sugar free.Print
This massaged kale salad is the perfect winter salad recipe; massaging the kale makes it taste tender and sweet! It’s paired with apple cider vinaigrette.
- 2 bunches curly kale
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup pecans
- ½ cup pomegranate seeds
- 1 apple
- Kosher salt
- Clean the kale and tear the leaves from the stem. Cut the leaves into bite-sized pieces and place in bowl.
- Sprinkle the kale with 1 pinch kosher salt. Coat your hands with a few drops of olive oil and massage the kale leaves for 2 to 3 minutes until all pieces are tender.
- In a bowl, whisk together the apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, maple syrup, chili powder, and 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt. Gradually whisk in the olive oil 1 tablespoon at a time.
- Break the pecans into bite-sized pieces and place them in a dry skillet. Toast them over medium heat until fragrant, stirring constantly, for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat immediately.
- Remove the seeds from the pomegranate: cut the pomegranate in quarters and place them in a large bowl of water. Under the water, start to gently pull out the seeds with your fingers. Eventually you’ll be able to turn the peel inside out to extract the seeds closest to the outer skin. As you work, the pomegranate seeds will sink to the bottom, while the white pith from the fruit will float to the top. When all of the seeds are extracted, skim off the white pith and strain out the water.
- When ready to serve, julienne the apple by cutting it into matchsticks–or simply chop it into bite-sized pieces. Combine all ingredients and drizzle lightly with the dressing. (Parmesan shavings are also a nice garnish if desired.)
Keywords: Kale Salad, Massaged Kale Salad, How to Massage Kale, Pomegranate, Kale Pomegranate Salad, Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten Free
About the Authors
Cookbook Author and writer
Sonja Overhiser is an acclaimed vegetarian cookbook author and cook based in Indianapolis. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Cookbook Author and photographer
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the “best vegetarian cookbooks” by Epicurious.