Megan-simple kale salad (with bonus scavenger cocktail action)

Updated Oct 12 2015
meggyfin

kale salad

Kale is so hot right now. In fact, it seems my friends make EVERYTHING with kale — salads, risottos, pastas, and even drinks.

I go to my buddy Jessica's house once a week (so that she can make sure I'm eating at least one meal that's not microwavable) and this time I stopped drinking wine long enough to document her incredible kale salad recipe.

Not only that, but we got a little creative and made a cocktail out of the leftover kale stalks. Check it out…

Salad ingredients

  • 2 lemons
  • Tablespoon of shallots
  • Olive oil
  • Pepper
  • Salt
  • Tablespoon of sugar
  • A bag of kale
  • Almond slivers
  • Shredded parmesan
  • Green cabbage (optional)
  • Shaved brussels sprouts (optional)
  • Avocado (optional)

kale salad dressing

  1. Squeeze out the juice of two large lemons.
  2. Chop and add a tablespoon of shallots.
  3. Pour in the olive oil.
  4. Add salt, pepper, and the secret ingredient: a tablespoon of sugar.
  5. Then shake it up!

Salad Recipe:

IMG_6203 copy

  1. Massage the kale (to reduce the bitter taste) and remove all the stalks.
  2. Chop the kale into smaller bits.
  3. Throw the kale into a big bowl.
  4. Throw in as many plain almond slivers as you want.
  5. Throw in a quarter cup of parmesan cheese.
  6. Cut up and throw in one large avocado (optional)
  7. Add the dressing and toss.

kale salad finished

Bonus scavenger cocktail: The MargKALErita

As we (and by "we" I mean Jessica and our friend Kimmy) were cooking, one of the gals thought about using the leftover kale stalks to make a cocktail. So we invented "the margkalerita." If you have a juicer, try it if you dare:

We took the kale stalks and some cucumbers that were going bad.
We took the kale stalks and some cucumbers that were going bad.
Throw them into a juicer.
Throw them into a juicer.
Salt the rim and fill it up with tequila.
Salt the rim — the salt is KEY with this drink — and fill it up with tequila.
Add the kale stock juice, and garnish with a lime (optional).
Add the kale stock juice, and garnish with a lime (optional).
    • You should have seen my face when I found out "massaging lettuce" was a fucking THING! Anyway, you should totally try this. I've made this three times since. Of course, the first time making it on my own took me two hours and I totally fucked up the dressing. I'm getting better though!!!

      • Yes, it makes a huge difference if you DON'T massage your kale (recipes I have read/used suggest adding a little salt when you do it–I think it wilts it a little faster, maybe). First time I bought kale a few years ago and opted to make a salad, I didn't know to do this. Needless to say, my jaw was exhausted eating that salad. Typically, I remove the stalks, tear it into smaller pieces, and THEN do the whole kale massaging thing.

        I read another food blog that offered a great recipe that uses maple syrup, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil (plus a little salt and pepper to taste) as its dressing for a kale salad. I just eyeball the ingredients now when I make it, but I think it was something like 1 tablespoon of the syrup, 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, 1 (or maybe 2) of the vinegar, and I think 2 of the olive oil. Either way, I don't think you can really screw it up if you put in a little more or a little less of the vinegar or oil, but that's just me.

        The original recipe involved adding cooked beets and feta cheese, as well as candied pecans or walnuts. I don't usually go through the whole process with all the ingredients, but it is delicious. You can just as easily throw some walnuts or pecans in the toaster oven for a minute or two and throw them and some crumbled feta on the kale with the dressing. It's still super-tasty and really not too difficult to make.

        • Mmmm, beets.

          I have a spinach/grapefruit/beets/walnuts salad planned for this weekend, but I'll try this next week and get my massage on.

  1. kale is my life force. all hail kale!!!

    but really, this recipe looks delicious. My favorite kale salad recipe is massaging it with a healthy drizzle of olive oil, a smaller drizzle of bragg's liquid aminos (tastes like soy sauce and you could use that instead), a dash of cayenne, and a good sprinkling of nutritional yeast. massage and enjoy.

  2. I am totally intrigued by the margkalerita. How essential is the tequila to making this palatable? Maybe subsitute a lemon-line soda? I'm not drinking these days, so am always on the look out for interesting mocktail recipes.

    • You know, your mileage may vary on the lime thing. Two of us preferred it without lemon and one preferred with lemon. I happened to think the lemon made it gross. The salt was TOTALLY key though. Maybe… margarita mix that's non-alcoholic? You know… I don't know!

  3. You're going to have to further explain this kale massageing thing too me….. I can't envisage what's going on there…..

    • Basically, when I do it (though I read to do it with a little added salt and I do it after I have already removed the stems and cut it into smaller pieces), I just stick my hands into the bowl of kale and rub the leaves between my fingers until it all feels fairly wilted, or softer, or something like that. It's a little like hand-washing laundry, I guess, but not exactly. Hope that helps and hasn't made it more confusing.

  4. Mann, if only I wasn't allergic to onions and shallots (wait, they're related right? Like cousins or something?) You can also get baby kale- that's more tender.

    • Yes, onions and shallots (and garlic, chives, green onions, and certain flowers) are related — they're all alliums. You could probably make the salad without the shallots, though — maybe add something to the dressing to up the "punch" — ground dry mustard would probably go well, or prepared (preferably not "bright yellow") mustard if you don't stock dry.

  5. Will never understand the Kale fad. It's disgusting. Chewy, unbearably bitter and totally not worth the time it takes to prepare it.

    • You're not preparing it right! 😛

      Personally, I like it best in soups with lots of other stuff — cooked long enough, it is certainly not overly chewy, and cooked in soup I've never noticed a bitter flavour. As to the time it takes to prepare, it's pretty quick to strip the leaves off the stems with a knife and chop it up a bit before throwing it into my soup — I'd say it takes less time than the potatoes do…

    • Well, like some people have noted, cooking it does help, or, as already indicated in this recipe (and others), if you are going to eat it raw, you really need to massage it to soften it up. It makes it a little less chewy (or at least, it makes it so eating a salad of it won't exhaust your jaw muscles) and makes the flavor more mild.

      Still, to each one's own–I'm not going to tell you that you HAVE to like kale. I do like it, however, as an alternative in colder weather. I find it tends to hold up longer in the fridge than other greens and I like the versatility–I can add it to soups, I can add it to pastas, or I can eat it as a salad.

    • I'm with you, man. We as a society will be better off when we collectively admit that kale does not taste good. And yes, I have had kale cooked properly, by really good cooks, and yes I have had kale chips, and yes I love bitterness in my food. And yes, I *am* cranky and defensive.

      • It's all good! Hey, I admit, though everyone talks about how awesome spaghetti squash is ("you can totally use it in place of pasta!"), I really don't like it. Sure, I want to like it ("you can totally use it in place of pasta!"), but I just don't like the taste. In general, I'm not a fan of squash-type veggies, though, so I think that's a big part of the problem.

  6. I just learned about massaging kale this summer – it makes an amazing difference. Not only does it get tender, but if you massage it long enough with some lemon juice, it develops a much sweeter taste. (I usually massage with lemon, then toss in a bit of sea salt and some olive oil). When my friend told me about it, I didn't believe it, but it's totally true. And Foxie – you really do massage it. I suppose you could think of it as kneading, like dough.

    Hmm, now that I think about it, it makes sense. Even on my crankiest days I'm much sweeter after a good massage.

      • You just put them in a large bowl and massage them in there. Some people put the salt in while massaging, too. The only reason I don't is that lemon juice + salt would do a number on my skin.

  7. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Kale salads and am making one for dinner tonight! So much more substantial than your typical lettuce 🙂 If you're super lazy like me, you don't even make your own dressing, I just use store bought Caesar dressing. I like cooking a bit of chopped up chicken w/ some Johnny's garlic seasoning, put a few tablespoons of water in the pan after the chicken is done to get all the tasty bits off the bottom, then dump the chicken/seasoning deliciousness on the salad too. Yum! one more thing I forgot to add…this is a great leftover salad too because, unlike lettuce, kale will not get all mushy and disgusting.

  8. I said this on Facebook but this kale hype never fails to amuse me. I'm Dutch and kale mash (boerenkoolstamppot) has been a staple winter food here since FOREVER. Like, you can't get much more Dutch than kale mash. It's basically shredded kale mixed with mashed potatoes and some cream, to make a stodgy but nourishing mass. You typically eat it with a rookworst ('smoked sausage').

  9. How long does this keep after you've made it? I'd love to take this to work for lunch, but it needs to stay together for at least 5 hours in the fridge, since I'd be making it at 6am and eating around 11-12noon. Do I have to do this right before eating it for it to work?

    • This totally keeps! I make this at night for dinner and then eat the perfect leftovers for lunch — salad dressing on it and all.

    • Unlike salads made of delicate greens like spinach and lettuce, kale salads will actually improve by marinating in their dressing. With a sufficiently lemony dressing and some time to sit, you can get away without the massaging, since the lemon will help break the leaves down a bit — some breaking down really is a good thing with kale.

      • I am going to be switching up my lunches—excitement! Thanks so much, this opens up so many possibilities. Delicious, delicious possibilities.

  10. I am banned from eating kale. The gasses it produces have been classified as weapons grade.
    How come it doesn't affect anyone else that way?

    • My dad can't eat anything in the whole family that kale is in (broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, rutabagas, bok choi, cabbage, etc.), since it makes him puke. Different people have different digestive systems; yours apparently doesn't like kale.

  11. For the people who find Kale is too chewy, know that an acid/astringent dressing will wilt the leaves a little and make them softer. On the other hand, some of the creamier dresisng will not do that.

  12. Kale hasn't really been available around here until recently so when I saw it at the store, I bought a bag and tried this salad. Well, I've amended it a bit. 🙂
    I think massaging the kale with lemon juice and a bit of salt really made it better. I'm usually not one for greens, but this actually worked. I added an avocado, some bacon cubes and crumbled feta cheese. I just had the leftovers for lunch and it was really good and satisfying!

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