With tender bites of flavorful kale, a pile of seasoned chickpeas, and creamy slices of avocado, this Massaged Kale & Chickpea Salad is one of the tastiest salads ever. It’s completely delicious, super hearty, and it totally sold me on massaged kale salad.

A white plate on a pink and green napkin. The salad on the plate is a mix of kale massaged with avocado, chickpeas, and slices of avocado.

Table of Contents

The Story Behind the Recipe

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 salad – especially massaged kale salad with avocado.

Readers say …
“If I could only make one salad for the rest of my life…it would be this one! So happy to have found it.” 

A plate of massaged kale and chickpea salad with a gold fork

Why Massage Kale?

Massaging kale takes care of a couple of things:

  1. It breaks down the fibers, making it easier to chew and digest.
  2. It takes away some of that bitter “green” taste that some kale-haters dislike.

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!

When you massage kale for salad, you add de-ribbed leaves to a large bowl along with a fat, an acid, and salt.

  • Fat: Helps tenderize and coat the kale leaves
  • Salt: Aids the tenderizing process
  • Acid: Really helps break down those fibers.

Then, you squeeze, massage, and toss around the kale until tender and perfect!

Massaged Kale & Chickpea Salad Ingredients

This chickpea kale salad 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.

  • Kale – I like curly kale for this kale chickpea salad, but any kale will do.
  • Avocado – use half for massaging the kale, and the other half sliced on the salad.
  • Lemon juice – some for massaging, some for dressing the chickpeas
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper – some salt for massaging, plus, of course, loads of flavor!
  • Chickpeas – One can or about 1 1/2 cups cooked
  • Olive oil, dijon mustard, and pure maple syrup – To finish out the chickpea dressing. So good!
  • Red onion – for a little pizzazz and color
  • Sunflower seeds – I love a sprinkling of salty roasted sunflower seeds for crunch.

How to Make Kale Chickpea Salad

First, Massage the Kale

To massage your kale, strip out the ribs and tear your kale into bite-size pieces. Add to a large bowl along with the avocado, lemon juice, and a bit of salt.

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. 

Massaged Kale Salad with Avocado & Chickpeas recipe - The 10-minute vegan meal I can't stop making: Kale massaged with avocado then topped with a simple chickpea salad and more avocado. (More avocado is always a good thing, am I right?)
Unmassaged (left); massaged (right)

Your kale enjoyed a nice little trip to the spa before you chomp it down. Massaging for the win!

Toss the Chickpeas in Dressing

Mix the chickpeas with the onion, olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon, pure maple syrup, and salt and pepper.

Assemble the Salad

Divide the kale between plates, top with chickpeas, and arrange the remaining avocado over the salads. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds and serve!

A white plate with kale and chickpea salad with a gold fork

More Kale Salad Recipes

I love kale salad! Here are a few more kale salad recipes on Kitchen Treaty:

Massaged Kale Salad with Avocado & Chickpeas
5 from 2 votes

Massaged Kale & Chickpea Salad

Prep: 10 minutes
Total: 10 minutes
Author: Kare
Yield: 3
The 10-minute meal I can't stop making: Kale massaged with avocado then topped with a simple chickpea salad and more avocado. (More avocado is always a good thing, am I right?)


  • 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.


You can make the chickpea salad ahead of time, but due to the avocado and the fact that it usually does not keep well, I recommend doing the massaged kale and avocado right before serving.

Meat option:

Top meat-eaters’ portions with some cooked, cubed chicken.

Vegetarian (dairy) option:

Top individual portions with 2 tablespoons each crumbled feta.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1g, Calories: 482kcal, Carbohydrates: 56g, Protein: 19g, Fat: 24g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g, Monounsaturated Fat: 12g, Trans Fat: 0.01g, Sodium: 541mg, Potassium: 1275mg, Fiber: 22g, Sugar: 11g, Vitamin A: 13526IU, Vitamin C: 139mg, Calcium: 432mg, Iron: 7mg

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