Massaged Kale Salad with Apple and Pomegranate

In Recipes/ Salads

Massaged Kale Salad with Apple and Pomegranate | A Couple Cooks

Massaged Kale Salad with Apple and Pomegranate | A Couple Cooks

The final side dish of our healthy + delicious Thanksgiving menu is a refreshing salad, the perfect balance to the roasted and earthy flavors in the rest of the meal. Massaging kale might sound strange and a little wonderful (and maybe a bit like 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 a zesty dressing, and it turned out to be an incredibly tasty concoction. It’s a great salad for a holiday gathering: Thanksgiving, Christmas, or otherwise.

Are you planning a holiday menu? Putting together dishes that work together and compliment each other is difficult, and it took us weeks of planning and playing with options to narrow it down. For me, this was the hands-down hardest part of cooking for me when I started – and still is, really. I would pour over books with menu plans trying to understand the art of putting together a cohesive menu. Alex and I are still learners in this realm, but here are a few holiday menu planning tips we used to create the menu below:

  • Use a few featured ingredients. We picked a few ingredients we wanted to shine: pomegranate, squash, pecans, and let them work across several recipes to create a sense of cohesion.
  • Create contrasts. As I mentioned above, think about contrasting elements, both between recipes and within recipes. Roasted squash and Brussels sprouts versus bright and crisp apple and kale salad. Crunchy pepitas and wild rice versus soft roasted squash.
  • Think in colors. So often, the Thanksgiving plate can be a pile of brown and white: brown turkey, white potatoes, brown gravy, brown stuffing. Here, we’ve amped up colors everywhere: crimson pomegranate, bright green kale, orange sweet potatoes, yellow squash. This helps the plate to remain visually appealing.
  • Focus on nutrients. In every recipe and menu we create, we think about maximizing nutrients. We’re not nutritionists, but we’ve read enough to know leafy greens, orange squashes and sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, nuts, whole grains, pomegranates, and apples are nourishing and wholesome. We’ve relied on these ingredients heavily and complimented them with things like butter, milk, and cheese, and instead of the other way around where a meal can rely solely on refined flours and sugars and fats, with small bits of nourishing veg.

This isn’t a list of easy steps to a perfect menu, and requires a lot of thinking and creativity on your part. But it’s a starting point, and hopefully can inspire some menus of our own! We’d love to hear what your menu looks like.

Thanksgiving 2014
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
Massaged Kale Salad with Apple and Pomegranate
Poached Pears with Pecan Granola and Whipped Cream

Check out our Thanksgiving Pinboard for more ideas. And don’t forget our *new gift shop* for Thanksgiving cooking tools and holiday gift ideas! 


Massaged Kale Salad with Apple and Pomegranate

1 Star (No Ratings Yet)

  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Yield: 6 to 8


  • ⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • 3 pinches kosher salt, divided
  • 2 bunches curly kale
  • ½ cup pecans
  • ½ cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1 apple


  1. In a bowl or ball jar, combine ⅓ cup apple cider vinegar, ⅓ cup olive oil, 1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard, ½ teaspoon chili powder, and 2 pinches kosher salt. Whisk or shake the jar to combine.
  2. Clean the kale and tear the leaves from the stem. Cut the leaves into bite-sized pieces and place in bowl.
  3. Sprinkle the kale with 1 pinch kosher salt. Coat your hands with a few drops of olive oil and massage the kale for 2 to 3 minutes until all pieces are tender.
  4. Break the pecans into bite-sized pieces and place them in a dry skillet. Heat over medium heat until fragrant, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat immediately.
  5. 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.
  6. When ready to serve, julienne the apple (cut it into matchsticks; alternatively, chop into bite-sized pieces). Combine all ingredients and dress lightly with dressing.



  • Reply
    dixya@food, pleasure, and health
    November 16, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    this is so the color and flavors.

  • Reply
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar
    November 17, 2014 at 1:17 am

    This looks like the perfect addition to your menu. The matchstick apples really make this look pretty!

  • Reply
    November 17, 2014 at 8:04 am

    Thanks for the tip about massaging kale before putting it into a salad! I’m going to try that out. Lovely recipe and beautiful photos. I love your alternative Thanksgiving recipes – so healthy and fresh.

  • Reply
    November 17, 2014 at 9:34 am

    I think your holiday menu tips are actually great tips for eating in general, focusing on the colours and textures within a meal can make all the difference and is such a simple way to improve your diet. Such great flavours in this salad!

  • Reply
    Abby @ The Frosted Vegan
    November 17, 2014 at 10:34 am

    I agree, sometimes it gets overwhelming to get everything figured out for a holiday meal, but this salad is too perfect!

  • Reply
    Amy @ Parsley In My Teeth
    November 17, 2014 at 11:26 am

    Wow – two of my favorite ingredients in one salad! You can an never go wrong with kale and pomegranates in my book. This beautiful salad looks scrumptious!

  • Reply
    Jennifer @ Show Me the Yummy
    November 17, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    Love massaged kale! Your menu looks perfect and nothing that will leave you feeling tired and weighed down!

  • Reply
    Katie @ Whole Nourishment
    November 17, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    These are great tips Sonja, especially the one to focus on a few ingredients and stream them throughout the meal. This is a great idea for a dinner party or holiday meal alike. And this is a beautifully simple salad. Love the chili powder in the dressing.

  • Reply
    Liz @ Floating Kitchen
    November 17, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    Your menu looks great! Can I come? This salad is perfect for Thanksgiving and Christmas too. What wonderful colors!

  • Reply
    November 21, 2014 at 11:05 am

    Yum! This looks great! My husband is not a fan of mustard – do you have any suggestions for what I could use as a substitute in the dressing instead of mustard? OR could I just leave it out? Thanks!

    • Reply
      November 21, 2014 at 3:23 pm

      I would probably just leave it out — or make a small bowl separately for him :)

  • Reply
    November 24, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    This recipe looks spectacular! I live in Germany, so I was wondering what a “bunch” is in terms of grams. Kale tends to be sold by weight here in a bag or loose with the leaves already taken from the stems. Thanks in advance!

    • Reply
      November 24, 2014 at 4:52 pm

      Since it’s a salad, you don’t have to be too exact. I’d say a bunch is roughly 12 ounces or 350 grams.

  • Reply
    October 12, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    I just made this for Canadian thanksgiving and it went down a storm! Thanks so much for sharing the recipe

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