5-Ingredient Massaged Kale Salad with Lemon & Parmesan
If you ever need a salad to bring to a party, this is it. If ever you need to make a salad to pack in your lunch box for work, this is it. If you ever need a salad for any reason that anyone could ever want a salad, this is the salad.
Kale is considered one of those super foods, full of tasty antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. This cruciferous green stuff is delicious too, but it has a very sturdy texture that's a little intimidating at first. The first kale salad I ever made was impossible to eat because I treated it like normal salad. I didn't give it a massage, and that was a big mistake.
Why massage kale?
Massaging kale is exactly like what it sounds — getting handsy with kale. You sort of knead the kale with the salad dressing and it helps break it down and make it easier to eat and easier to digest. As you massage, the kale's leaves will become a deeper more vibrant green. The texture will become softer, but kale holds up well. The salad will still maintain a bit of crunch even after a day in the fridge, so it's a good make-ahead salad to take to work or a friend's house or something.
I made this salad for Christmas Day with my family this year, and added chopped bacon to the mix and that was a huge hit too. In case you want to do the same, I included those instructions in the recipe even though I photographed this salad without the bacon. You can also feel free to leave the cheese off of the salad if you don't do dairy. It's still tasty regardless!
Massaged Kale Salad with Lemon and Parmesan
gluten-free & vegetarian (vegan, paleo & whole30-approved with substitutions) | serves 4
- 1 lemon
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 big bunch of kale, cut into thin ribbons (I used dinosaur kale in these photos, but any variety will work)
- about 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
- a block of aged Parmesan, grated (use as much as you like)
- optional: 8 pieces of bacon, cooked and chopped (make it in the oven, it's easier)
- Zest the lemon and set the lemon peel aside.
- In a small skillet, heat up a tablespoon of olive oil and fry the garlic for just a minute or two until it softens. Set the pan aside to cool.
- Put the kale ribbons into a big salad bowl and drizzle olive oil. I gave 1/4 cup as a guideline, but you might use more or less depending on what you like. Don't overdo it with the oil, since you'll add the garlic-infused oil in a second..
- Squeeze the whole lemon's worth of juice over the salad.
- Using your hands, toss and massage the kale for a minute or two until the greens are tender.
- Add the garlic (including the oil from the pan), bacon, lemon zest, some finely grated fresh Parmesan and salt and pepper. Toss thoroughly.
- Top with a little more Parmesan (because it's pretty!) and serve.
- It'll hold up overnight in the fridge.
- To grate the lemon peel and the Parmesan, I use this wonderful microplane. I love this thing! The long ones that have the foldy edges (like this one), kind of bug me because everything gets stuck in there. Not with my flat microplane though.
- For Whole30 or paleo pals, just leave off the cheese and add a little extra seasoning to punch up the flavor.
- For a meal salad, add some grilled chicken or shrimp on top.