Addictive Citrus-Massaged Raw Kale Salad

This citrus-massaged kale salad is SO GOOD! I even love the way it smells.

Have you ever leaned over the cutting board and given some freshly-cut kale a good sniff? It’s got a really unique smell – rich and earthy and fresh and mineral-like –it always makes me think “green.”


Although I enjoy kale prepared in many ways, this is by far my favorite at the moment. I actually find myself thinking about it at random moments and craving it. I haven’t felt this way about a salad since I was introduced to this one a few years ago. I didn’t think I could ever love like that again. I was wrong…

Kale in the salad spinner by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2013

The recipe was inspired by a similar salad my friend, Kali, made a few months back at a dinner party. I loved it then and I love it even more now.

Squeezing lemon onto the chopped kale by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2013by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2013

The main idea here is to “massage” thinly-cut kale with lemon juice and olive oil. Rubbing it with the acid and the oil makes it softer and easier to chew and just generally helps it to relax since the life of a vegetable can be so stressful!
Massaging the sh#t out of some kale by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2013

I add a little maple syrup to counter all the sourness of the lemon, some dried cherries, cranberries or currants to provide some pops of sweetness, toasted nuts for crunch and substance and fresh Parmesan cheese provides the salty goodness that ties the whole thing together.
Toasted almonds by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2013

It’s pretty incredible. And pretty good for you, too, which is always a plus!

Massaged kale salad with homemade dried cherries, toasted almonds and Parmesan cheese by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2013

The recipe below is not hard and fast in its proportions – it’s all open to interpretation based on your preferences.  The main thing is to soften the kale up using some acid – you can use lemon juice or vinegar, any kind of dried fruit, any kind of nuts (or omit them and/or the cheese if you prefer), etc. There is no need to feel boxed in by my recipe.

Try it and let me know if you find it as addictive as I do.

Citrus-Massaged Raw Kale Salad with Toasted Nuts, Dried Cherries & Parmesan
Serves 4


* 2 bunches of organic kale (about 1 lb), rinsed and dried, center ribs and stems removed, leaves thinly sliced crosswise
* Juice of 2-3 organic lemons
* 2 Tbsps organic olive oil
* 2 Tbsps maple syrup or honey (try hard to buy from a local beekeeper near you)
* 1/4 cup lightly toasted pine nuts or organic almonds (buying organic almonds is especially helpful to our honey bees)
* 1/4 cup dried organic cherries, cranberries or currants (we made our own cherries – so good!)
* 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheeses plus some bigger shavings to top the salad with
* Sea salt to taste
* Freshly ground black pepper to taste


1. Place the thinly sliced kale in a large bowl and toss with the lemon juice and olive oil (add more of either thing if you feel like there’s not enough to cover everything.) Massage the mixture with your fingers until all of the kale is well-coated and looks a bit darker in color. Let sit for a half hour (or not, if you’re in a hurry!)

2. Add the rest of the ingredients and toss to coat. Give it a taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed. Top with the shaved cheese and serve.

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