kale salad recipe

  For the past 4 years or so I’ve been eating this kale salad almost every single day from summer until my black kale finally dies back in January or February.

Black Kale, the only vegetable to be known by more names than Puff Daddy, is a less bitter kale than what you might be used to. Under most circumstances it is also less bitter than Puff Daddy.

Black Kale also goes by the stage names: Tuscan Kale, Lacinato Kale, Cavolo Nero or Dinosaur Kale.

Black Kale is the only kale I like.

Which is a good thing because as far as Kale goes (which we all know is a “superfood” blah, blah, blah) Black Kale has some very specific benefits.

The Health Benefits of Black Kale
  1. Black Kale contains a thing in its cells that gets converted to another “thing” once it’s chewed.  This second “thing” has been proven to inhibit and destroy cancer cells.  You will get 10X the anti-benefits if you eat the kale RAW.  Here’s one of the studies if you’re the medical journal type.  The “thing” is called aIsothiocyanates (ITCs) by the way.
  2. Kale is also anti-inflammatory which helps with arthritis, asthma and autoimmune disorders.
  3. Per gram, kale is packed with more calcium than milk.
  4. In 2013 a study was done and preliminary findings were that Black Kale in particular  had neuroprotective and immunomodulatory effects.  This means Black Kale is now being studied as something that could provide health benefits for people with MS.

A bit of research showed me that Black Kale is particularly good for you.  We have also learned on our little journey today that you get 10 X, TEN TIMES, the health benefits in terms of kale being an anti-cancer agent if you eat it raw.  I didn’t know that. All I knew is that I really like this kale salad and I eat it a lot.

I’ve talked about it for years now and I figured with fresh, locally grown kale available to one and all, this would be the perfect time to lay it on you.

It’s my favourite salad for 3 reasons:  It has very few ingredients, it’s easy to make and you can dress this salad and leave it in the refrigerator for a week and it doesn’t go soggy.

kale salad recipe

The actual salad is made up of just 3 things.  Black kale, parmesan cheese and toasted breadcrumbs (or croutons).  That’s it.

So the only prep work is making the dressing and cutting the kale.


kale salad recipe

Kale has tough ribs so I remove those first.  Just slice down either side of the rib and pull it away from the kale.  Then, because even though black kale is the least tough of all the kales, you still need to slice it fairly thin to make it easier to chew.  I mean, it IS kale after all.  I cut my kale into anything from 1/4″ to 1/2″ wide strips across the width of the kale.

kale salad recipe

Then I pour on my dressing (recipe at the bottom of this post) and perform the MOST important task with ANY kale salad.  I touch it.  I caress it.  I give it a massage.

kale salad recipe

Massaging the kale does 2 things.  It helps open the cell structure which makes the kale less tough and it allows the dressing to enter the kale giving it better flavour.  Kind of like simmering a stew.  Massage the salad and then put it in the fridge for a day.  You can eat it right away but it’s much better after it’s been massaged and recuperated from it’s massage for 24 hours.

kale salad recipe

When you want to eat it, just pull a handful out of the bowl, top it with shaved or grated parmesan cheese and some toasted breadcrumbs.  I use spelt crumbs when I can find them otherwise I just crunch up a few croutons with my fingers and sprinkle them over the salad.


The beauty of this black kale salad is you can prep and dress it at the beginning of the week and just grab handfuls of it when needed. PLUS it actually tastes good.
4 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Tuscan
Author: The Art of Doing Stuff


  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 garlic cloves minced then mashed
  • 2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Big pinch of red pepper flakes1-2 bunches of kale depending on the size of your family and their appetite for kale
  • Parmesan cheese to taste shaved or grated
  • Bread crumbs or croutons


  • Prep kale by removing ribs and cutting leaves into 1/4" - 1/2" strips.
  • Whisk together the first 6 ingredients.
  • Pour dressing over prepped kale.
  • Massage dressed salad then refrigerate overnight.
  • Add big shavings of parmesan cheese and a handful of croutons or crumbs and serve.
  • Salad will keep, dressed, in the fridge for up to a week.

If you want to make this salad UNFORGETTABLE, try sprinkling some Buzz Button flower petals on top of it. Not sure what those are? O.K., you have to learn about Buzz Buttons immediately. They make your whole mouth tingle and dance.  You can even grow them yourself.

Two other things that help me out with making this the easiest salad ever is using one of my favourite kitchen tips, this little premeasured salad dressing bottle DIY and keeping the kale fresh in one of these bags prior to prepping it.

For someone who couldn’t get their ass in gear to write this post I’ve managed to work this simple salad recipe into a whopping 1,200 words.

Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to “lie on the grass under trees on a summer’s day”.  Rolling around like a bag of Monarch Cheetos.


  1. Kath says:

    Omg, if you haven’t already can you do a post on how you bleach your fingernails?? I’m always looking for a better way than what I do…

    I spend most of my workdays trying to remember to hide my less-than sparkling fingertips (and that’s even with my nails clipped as short as possible).


  2. Leslie says:

    Kale Yeah!

    Okay, did my Amazon thing, bought some seeds. Not sure if it is too late to plant or not, but gonna give it a try. Because, kale yeah! I suddenly want to try this salad, haha.

  3. susan Whelan says:

    I actually like the taste of kale, especially in fruit smoothies. It gives it a clean, summery taste. But I have a question. I planted a kale plant last year, don’t have a clue what country it hails from, and it kept me in leaves to mix with salad or put in smoothies right up until December. I live in PEI so not much will survive the winter and I was very surprised to see it turn green again in the spring, grow monstrously big and produce a lot of yellow flowers, much to the delight of the bees! I was thrilled, love to do my bit for the bees and there were line-ups for every blossom. Are you supposed to cut them back? And if so, when? And how severely? If it’s before blossoming, ain’t gonna happen.

  4. Kathy Savage says:

    Did you know there is a gizmo for stripping the stalks from the leaves of thing and leaving the stalk? It is a plastic disk about the size of the palm of your hand with little to larger holes in it. Using the tightest but useable hole you feed the stalk through and strip off the leaves. I have done kale and thyme. Kale is easiest. I got it at Lee Valley and I think it was worth it but then I like my Instant Pot.

  5. KimS says:

    Hey Karen,
    This looks delicious. I make a “Massaged Kale Salad” from Aarti Sequeira that I love. I have a question–is there anything at all other than compost that can be done with the stems of Kale? PS. Just seeing your post in my inbox brings a smile to my face everytime.

    • Karen says:

      I think most kale is pretty much garbage, lol. But the stems especially. I think the only thing the stems could possibly be used for is to flavour vegetable stock. ~ karen!

    • Audrey says:

      Get a rabbit, they like kale.

      • KimS says:

        Ha! I knew someone would say feed it to pigs/bunnies/etc. unfortunately for me–no animals, thanks though!

  6. marilyn meagher says:

    I detested kale when I started reading this post and I detest it even more now. Masssage my food??? Nada.

    • Susan Claire says:

      Amen, Marilyn. All the wondrous benefits aside, kale is a big nasty weed. I’ll stick to spinach.

  7. Mary W says:

    You must have been very tired and went to bed early (having finished the post on your porch) since you haven’t responded to anyone and it is almost 7:30 AM! Good for you. BUT, probably you are out in your garden harvesting and even more tired but smart to get out in the heat before Noon. I do love kale and thank you sharing the difference between black and other kale.

  8. Amy Watson says:

    I make kale slaw it is so good, I just do a rough chop and add it to my cabbage and then use my regular cole slaw dressing it is yummy..

  9. Sandra Lea says:

    I’m struggling to believe that you can dress this salad and it will keep for a week but I’m going to give it a try.

  10. Julia says:

    I make a salad very similar to this with a homemade yogurt Caesar dressing (that has a tiny bit of mayo too). Yours sounds delicious. I can’t wait until my garden kale is big enough to harvest – because the only kale the store seeks in northern Minnesota I’d the curly kind. But at least they sell any kale at all.

  11. Paula says:

    Omg – I eat exactly the same salad every night except I use a bit of Caesar dressing and sometimes I add beet tops, lettuce, and other greens. So yummy!

  12. wendy says:

    Karen, Here are a couple more summer quotes to mull over while lolling in the grass:
    “Hey! It’s summer! Be free and happy and fanciful and uninhibited and now-y!”–Terri Guillemets
    “A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken.”–James Dent
    I enjoy your musings about almost anything. Glad you were in the NYT.

  13. MrsChrisSA says:

    That sounded so yummy that I am going to have to give it a whirl. No breadcrumbs though – will have to try nuts or perhaps even chickpeas……..

  14. Hazel says:

    I like the fact your salad doesn’t involve remembering to buy pomegranates and walnuts (because the children have eaten the rest of the walnuts for breakfast). I’ll definitely try it.

    I know as soon as anybody says they don’t like something, everybody else immediately feels the need to challenge it, but if you ever get the chance to try red russian kale (well, that’s what it’s called in the UK ), I find it even more tender and less bitter than cavalo nero- I eat it from the bag it’s so good. Like a substantial salad leaf rather than kale. Anyway, you might like it.

  15. Kathleen Aberley says:

    Okay – you win… I’ll try it. I like the idea I can make it in advance and it will last for up to a week. Good for work lunches. I can just add my own extras to it. Thanks Karen.

    • Karen says:

      That’s the beauty of it Kathleen! ~ karen

    • martina says:

      I’ve been making this same salad for years, and this may sound odd, but instead of breadcrumbs I put in smoked almonds, chopped dates (or cranberries), and thin sliced onions. Maybe that helps with some add-in ideas? It’s addictive.

      • Kathleen Aberley says:

        Sounds yummy. I’m definitely going to give it a try. I will prep it all this weekend and see how it goes next week. I will report my findings soon! :)

  16. Therese says:

    My teenage twin daughters HATE kale – especially cavolo nero. BUT, one of them has insisted on giving up dairy products, so I’m going to sell this salad to her as containing more calcium per gram than milk. Ha ha – I’m going to have such fun forcing them to eat it. I think it sounds delicious, by the way.

  17. Robert says:

    Also if you didn’t knew after almost 3 years of being the bigger person Katy perry became lame by releasing a very bad song about the feud with Taylor swift that none of the 2 had actually confirmed, just when everyone had lost interest and she was actually winning the fight by no acknowledging it

  18. Heather says:

    Love kale! Have you tried substituting seasoned rice vinegar for white vinegar in your dressing? Yum!

  19. Brenna says:

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I have a hard time digesting raw kale so I usually avoid it but the ‘massage’ and overnight soak in acid will help break it down a bit so I too can enjoy the deliciousness and reap the health benefits. Genius!

    • Karen says:

      It makes allll the difference. :) ~ karen!

      • Brenna says:

        I finally tried it and….I love it! That dressing is so amazing I want to marry it. Seriously. I’m going to use it, and some version of it with different oils/acids, for all my salads from now on. I can’t believe I’ve been buying dressing all these years when I can make a much better tasting one at home. Thanks for changing my salad world Karen!

  20. Lisa says:

    How on earth did you do that? You made Kale sound delicious. OK I’ll give it a go – but only because it’s you (and you rescued a cheetos bag). PS: I really don’t like Kale.

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