Massaged Kale Salad with Walnuts and Raspberry Dressing

Healthy Kale Salad

I thought I hated kale. It’s probably because I had never had it, didn’t really know what it was, and it looked a lot like other greens I do hate such as collard or mustard greens.

It was with trepidation that I tried to make kale chips using this recipe from It was pretty good and some of my kids actually ate it. I didn’t love it enough to add it to my rotation of side dishes though. Then I read different recipes that used kale in salads. At first I couldn’t image using kale in a salad because it seemed bitter. Finally, I hit on the way to use kale in a salad that I liked and do include in our rotation of side dishes.

The magic of massage. When you massage the kale leaves, they soften, lose some of their bitterness and become tastier.

Here’s my version of massaged kale salad with homemade walnut raspberry dressing.

Wash your kale. I really take my time because I like to make sure there are no little buggies, dirt, or anything that is not supposed to be there.

Unwashed Kale

Next, I place the kale in a bowl with some olive oil and lime juice. You can use lemon juice but I like the lime flavor. Use your clean hands to massage the kale until it almost looks wilted.

Washed Kale Greens

The more you massage it the less bitter it becomes. Make sure you use plenty of kale because massaging it reduces the volume by a lot. In fact, the first time I made it I ended up with a spoonful for each of us, which was just fine with my 9 year old.

Put the massaged kale in a bowl and add your choice of toppings. I like to use mandarin oranges and walnuts because those go well with the dressing I make. Other options include standard salad add-ins like tomatoes, cucumbers, avocado, or even mango.

Massaged Kale Salad and Dressing

Top with your choice of dressing. To make the Raspberry dressing I use simply combine the following:

  • 1/2 cup raspberry preserves with no added sugar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Whisk it all together and pour over the salad.  Add salt and pepper if desired, but I just leave it unsalted.

I hope you will not be afraid of kale like I was and give this really tasty salad a try! I’d love to hear different ways that you have used kale in your healthy meals.  Diane

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  1. I too have a hard time with raw kale for exactly the reasons you mentioned. I put it through the food processor and then add it to soups, works great for me.

  2. I have tried Kale a few times and didn’t like it raw. I love it in soups and quiches. I will definitely try it raw again, with this dressing. Thanks for sharing, Diane. I never heard of massaging kale before.

  3. Delish!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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  4. I love kale. I use it in soups, make kale chips and saute it with olive oil. I have even made spanakopita with it ( a Greek dish made from phyllo dough and spinach).

    If you grow kale, it is always sweeter after it has been hit by a frost.

    And if you have not tried collard greens- they are pretty darn good too. Very healthy.
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  6. Sharon S says:

    Frankly, I was getting tired of kale until recently. I like it in cooked dishes, like soup, but raw….meh. A couple of weeks ago I saw a recipe on Food Network for a raw brussel sprouts and kale salad. It had toasted pine nuts and parm cheese in it. The sprouts and kale are shredded in a food processor and then tossed with a lemon vinegrette. I added dried cranberries……delicious!!!! Now I plan to give your salad a try. I have never had success massaging kale but I’ll give it one more try. Thanks for the yummy looking recipe.

  7. Hi Diane
    Thanks for the recipe. I, like the others above, also have trouble tolerating raw kale. Shredding and throwing in soup is ideal I think and I shall have to give that a try. But I am not sure I can eat it in a salad. Any other tips for stomaching it?