Massaged Kale Salad with Radish, Apple, Avocado, and Roasted Sunflower Seeds

January 10, 2011
8 Ratings
  • Serves 2-4
Author Notes

The bright flavors and crisp, layered textures of this salad will immediately bring you out of your winter-time funk. First off, let me explain what massaged kale is (other than pure-green-bliss). Kale is kind of hard in it’s raw form; it’s tense, it’s chewy, and super bitter–not the best–unless sauteed, baked, or, massaged with sea salt. And massaging works really with Dinosaur kale–the flat, dark green leaf, not the frilly leaves of Russian and other varieties of kale (although, you can use those too). To massage kale: take about a teaspoon of nice sea salt and sprinkle it over washed dinosaur kale leaves cut into 1/4 inch wide strips all tossed into a bowl. It’s up to you if you want to leave the stems on–sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. Then, using your hands, squeeze the kale vigorously, so that the kale softens and moisture begins to sweat out. Take a moment and taste a piece to see if you need to add a little more salt, it really brings out the moisture and softens up the leaves nicely. The result is delicious! The dressing for this salad was light, refreshing, and perfect for the cold/flu season as there is no oil base for it and it’s packed with good vitamins. Feel free to experiment with roasted pumpkin seeds or tamari almonds instead of the sunflower seeds as well. Enjoy! —Eating Is Art

What You'll Need
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1/2-1 teaspoons sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice (one whole lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 apple (cored and sliced)
  • 6 radishes (sliced)
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 cup roasted sunflower seeds
  1. Rinse off the kale, Cut crosswise into 1/4 inch pieces, including stems if using dinosaur kale. Sprinkle on 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and begin to squeeze the kale and salt vigorously with your hands so that the kale softens and moisture begins to sweat out. Taste it to see if you need any more salt, which you probably will. Massage the kale until it’s moist and tender.
  2. Mix together the lemon juice, honey, and ginger, and combine with the kale. Toss together. Slice up the apple into small chunks, the radish, the avocado, add the roasted sunflower seeds and some pepper–toss it and serve.
  3. *to roast sunflower seeds, put into a shallow pan, preheat your oven onto 350 degrees F and bake for 10-15 minutes. For lighter a roast, 10 minutes, for a darker roast, 15 minutes. Enjoy!
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6 Reviews

Nicolette D. January 22, 2016
Every time I make this salad, people look at me like I'm made of magic. It's so easy, and so delicious! I generally taste test my kale as I'm massaging, and stop once it's no longer bitter. On the topping front, I've used any combination of apples, cucumbers, goat cheese crumbles, sunflower seeds, avocado, spiced pecans, etc. It all works!
Butternut February 28, 2013
Really liked this. Used two bunches of kale, and cut the honey back to one tablespoon. Otherwise kept the measurements the same, and it was very very good. After the massaging with salt, the kale (which had filled a giant bowl all the way to the rim) shrunk down to filling up the bowl less than halfway. Great, unexpected combination of tastes.
Blissful B. February 7, 2011
This recipe amazed me. As I massaged the kale, it transformed as if it was being cooked. I tossed in the other ingredients, tasted, and fell in love. Salty kale, tangy lemon, sweet apple, smooth avocado & crunchy sunflower seeds. What's not to love? The dressing is light & oil-free & the kale actually colors it a beautiful shade of green. This is a new favorite recipe.
robinbeth January 27, 2011
Massaging the kale with salt and letting in sit with the lemon juice dressing while the rest of the salad was assembled worked perfectly to soften the tough, raw leaves. Bruised with salt, and pickled with the citrus, the kale’s texture became supple. The combination of crunchy radish, sweet apple, creamy avocado, and roasted sunflowers complimented each other well.
robinbeth January 20, 2011
Ah hah! I had a dinosaur kale salad at Il Buco in NYC last week that was amazing and I was completely confounded as to how they got the raw kale to be so delicious. I'll definitely try this technique. Thanks!
Sadassa_Ulna January 10, 2011
Massaging the kale sounds so intriguing, can't wait to try this...