The secret to this fruit, nutty massaged kale salad is using a trail mix that has a nice blend of nuts, seeds, and dried fruits.
That’s what gives this simple salad its “wow factor” with no extra effort. The pop of sweet apple or pear doesn’t hurt, either! Every time I’ve made a salad like this for an audience or company, it’s devoured. This is one of the recipes I’ve made most often in my public talks about the joys of leafy greens.
When you hear about massaged kale, that’s meant literally. Massaging this hardy green makes it soften, become brighter green, and makes it more tender. Best of all, it gets a better mouth feel and enhances its flavor.
My favorite for massaged kale salad is the common kind of curly green kale. Lacinato works too, as long as the leaves aren’t too large and tough. The sweet-tart flavor balance of this kale salad makes it a perfect accompaniment to hearty and spicy dishes. Recipe adapted from Wild About Greens by Nava Atlas.
- 8 to 10 ounces kale, any variety
- 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup trail mix
- 1 medium apple, cored and diced
- Juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon, to taste
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or agave nectar
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Strip the kale leaves off the stems. Slice the kale thinly and place in a serving bowl. If you’d like to use the stems, slice them thinly as well; otherwise, discard.
- Coat your palms lightly with olive oil and massage the kale until it softens and becomes bright green, 30 to 45 seconds.
- Add the remaining oil along with the other ingredients. Toss together with the kale.
- Taste and add more lemon and maple syrup or agave for the sweet and tart balance. I tend to like a more pronounced flavor of each, but tailor to your liking.
- If time allows, cover and let the salad stand for 15 minutes or so before serving.
Use a firm ripe pear in place of the apple.
Photos (top and bottom) by Evan Atlas