This massaged kale salad is one of the best salads ever, kale or not. It’s super satisfying, completely delicious, super hearty, and it totally sold me on massaged kale.
See, I used to be unsure about the whole massaged kale thing – I mean, I’ve always liked unmassaged kale just fine.
But I’m doing this culinary certificate thing and one of the early assignments was to try kale three different ways: unmassaged, massaged with lemon juice and olive oil, and massaged with avocado.
Lo and behold, I had to admit that I really, really adore massaged kale – especially massaged kale with avocado.
Why would I want to massage kale?
Massaging kale takes care of a couple of things:
- It breaks down the fibers, making it easier to chew and digest.
- It takes away some of that bitter “green” taste that some kale-haters dislike.
How to massage kale
To massage kale, strip out the ribs and tear your kale into bite-size pieces. Add to a large bowl along with a fat, an acid, and salt. The fat helps tenderize and coat the kale leaves, the salt aids the tenderizing process, and the acid really helps break down those fibers.
For the fat in this massaged kale salad, we use avocado, but olive oil works wonderfully too. For the acid, we use lemon juice, but another acid-heavy citrus or vinegar works as well.
And then, with clean hands, squeeze and rub and manhandle the kale until it’s reduced in size and tender. This process usually takes just a couple of minutes.
Unmassaged (left); massaged (right)
A side benefit to massaging your kale salad is that you’re seasoning/dressing your salad at the same time you are massaging it. Win-win!
This version massages the kale with avocado, tops it with a simply dressed chickpea salad, and then it’s plopped with a few slices of avocado for good measure. Plus, I like a few sunflower seeds for crunch. I’m a sunflower-seeds-on-my-salad girl.
Simple, protein-packed, delicious, easy to assemble, and your kale enjoyed a nice little trip to the spa before you chomp it down. Massaging for the win!
If you try this recipe, please leave a rating! And, if you find it share-worthy – which I hope you do – please share. Tag #kitchentreaty on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest, and don’t forget to check out my other recipes!
Massaged Kale Salad with Avocado & Chickpeas
- 1 medium ripe avocado (halved, divided) (you'll massage half with the kale, the other half will be sliced for the salad)
- 1 medium bunch curly kale (rinsed, dried, and stems removed) (about 8 cups loosely packed)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (from approx. 1 medium lemon, divided)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (divided)
- 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (about 1 1/2 cups cooked)
- 1/4 cup diced red onion (about 1/4 medium onion)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons roasted salted sunflower seeds
- Squeeze half the avocado out of its shell and into a large bowl. Mash with a fork. Add the kale, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. And, with clean hands, dig in! Squeeze and rub the kale until it's reduced in size and tender, 1-2 minutes. Set aside.
- To a medium bowl, add the chickpeas, onion, olive oil, the remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice, Dijon mustard, pure maple syrup, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and black pepper. Stir until well-combined.
- Divide kale between three plates. Top with chickpeas. Slice remaining avocado and arrange on top of the salads. Sprinkle sunflower seeds over the top. Serve immediately.
Meat option:Top meat-eaters' portions with some cooked, cubed chicken.
Vegetarian (dairy) option:Top individual portions with 2 tablespoons each crumbled feta.