I LOVE this salad! I know. I know. Some of you glance a kale recipe and roll your eyes. I get it, we’ve seen A LOT of kale action over these past few years, but the truth is I’m not done with kale (and I have a feeling I’m not the only diehard fan out there). Plus this salad is so darned good I had to share it here today, even kale skeptics could fall for this one.

If you haven’t massaged kale before, really, you should give it a go. Massaging dressing into the leaves transforms hearty, fibrous kale into green goodness that’s almost unrecognizably silky and tender (plus you get a little workout). For me, raw kale is totally unpalatable, but massaged kale is heavenly – it’s a totally different beast – and a delicious beast at that.

The base recipe for this salad (one of my favorite recipes in my cookbook) is always the same – I think the secret to the dressing lies in the splash of maple syrup, which brings a sweetness that tempers the kale’s bitter bite. After dressing the leaves, I always add a few layers of texture, flavor and color. I like pistachios here for crunch (and I think toasted hazelnuts or marcona almonds would be equally delish). In my book, I call for kumquats and dried cranberries, but this time of year I can’t resist tossing in my two seasonal obsessions of the moment – pomegranates and fuyu persimmons. They make such delicious companions to the tender kale and help the whole dish feel festively appropriate for the holiday season. I can totally see this dish as a fresh addition to the Thanksgiving table.

One last thing to keep in mind about this salad…. it holds up shockingly well. You can make a batch of massaged kale and eat it hours later or even the next day. Convenient, right?

Wishing you all the happiest of Thanksgivings. Savor that time with your loved ones.


INGREDIENTS  adapted from Yummy Supper: 100 Fresh, Luscious & Honest Recipes from a Gluten-Free Omnivore

  • 2 large bunches kale, lacinato or red are great here
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 firm, but ripe, Fuyu persimmons, peeled and sliced into thin wedges, then cut in half
  • 1/3 cup fresh pomegranate arils
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped, roasted and salted pistachios

After washing and thoroughly drying your kale, discard the tough ribs, then tear or chop leaves into smallish pieces. Set aside.

In the meantime, whisk together maple syrup, lemon juice, olive oil and salt in a large salad bowl. Add prepped leaves to the bowl and massage that dressing into the leaves. Don’t be shy… really go for it. Massaging the leaves for 3-5 minutes will render the leaves nice and tender. Taste as you go to experience the transformation.

When you’re done massaging, taste the salad for seasoning, adding additional lemon juice, salt or maple syrup to your liking.


serves 6-8 as a small side

P.S. The beautiful black cutting boards in this post were a gift from my buddies at Blackcreek Mercantile. (Thank you Josh and Kelly!) Local folks, run, don’t walk to March where you can drool over Blackcreek’s stunning new collection of boards, cooking tools, and the perfect step stool.  

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