Kale. Gosh, when did kale get so popular? It is certainly a food trend and here I am jumping on the train with kale salad. This Kale Salad with Lemon Dressing is a refreshing and healthy salad everyone will enjoy!
I have to tell you, it took me a while to jump on this kale crazy bandwagon. There was something about the flavor and texture of kale salads that weren’t for me until I realized I hadn’t been making them the right way.
Kale is slightly sweet, slightly bitter, hearty green. It makes a wonderfully vibrant and voluminous salad, but also does well in soups and stews, like my Pork Ragu, because it doesn’t breakdown as spinach would.
It is a year-round vegetable and an excellent choice for nutritional reasons as well. The fiber, potassium, vitamin C and B6 found in kale all support heart health.
It is also found in many green smoothies for great flavor, great texture, and all the amazing things listed above.I am a firm believer that salads don’t have to be boring. Just check out my tips for exciting salads.
Types of Kale
There are several common types of kale that are widely available. Here are some of the most popular varieties:
- Curly Kale: Curly kale is perhaps the most recognizable type of kale. It has ruffled, curly leaves and a slightly bitter taste. The leaves are usually dark green or purple, and they have a robust texture. Curly kale is versatile and can be used in salads, soups, sautés, or even baked into kale chips.
- Lacinato Kale (also known as Tuscan Kale or Dinosaur Kale): Lacinato kale has long, narrow, dark blue-green leaves with a bumpy texture. They are generally large leaves, hence the dino kale name. It has a slightly sweeter and more delicate flavor compared to curly kale. Lacinato kale is often used in Italian cuisine and is great for soups, stews, sautés, and raw salads.
- Red Russian Kale: Red Russian kale has flat, fringed leaves that are green with purple veins. It has a mild flavor and a tender texture. Red Russian kale is often used in salads, sautés, and smoothies.
- Redbor Kale: Redbor kale is a variety of curly kale with vibrant, deep purple or reddish leaves. It has a slightly milder flavor than curly kale and retains its color even after cooking. Redbor kale is often used in salads or as a colorful garnish.
- Siberian Kale: Siberian kale has large, flat, blue-green leaves that are tender and slightly sweet. It is one of the hardiest varieties and can withstand cold weather. Siberian kale is suitable for various cooking methods, including sautés, stir-fries, and soups.
- Black Kale– Much harder to come by, but very mystical in appearance.
These are just a few examples, and there are other kale varieties available as well. Each type of kale has its own unique flavor profile and texture. The most common and widely available kale leaf is curly kale.
Why Do You Massage Kale?
Massaging kale is a technique used to prepare raw kale before consuming it in salads or other dishes. Kale has a tough and fibrous texture, and massaging helps to break down its structure, making it more tender and enjoyable to eat. Here are a few reasons why people choose to massage kale:
- Texture improvement: Massaging kale helps to soften its leaves and reduce their toughness. By breaking down the fibers, the kale becomes easier to chew and digest.
- Bitterness reduction: Raw kale can have a slightly bitter taste, which can be lessened through massaging. The process helps to release some of the natural compounds that contribute to the bitterness, making the kale milder in flavor.
- Enhanced flavor absorption: Massaging kale with a dressing or oil allows the leaves to absorb the flavors more effectively. This step can help the kale to better incorporate the dressing’s flavors, resulting in a tastier and more well-rounded salad.
Why You’ll Love This Kale Salad
Crisp kale tossed in a light lemon dressing with all kind of crunch- what’s not to love!
- Easy to throw together – From start to finish, you can have this easy kale salad ready in only 20 minutes. You can’t beat that!
- Health benefits – While I’m no doctor, kale can provide lots of health benefits. It’s high in all kinds of vitamins, loaded with antioxidants and can reduce cholesterol.
- Customizable – Although I love this kale salad exactly as is, there are plenty of ways for you to make it your own.
All of the simple ingredients for this simple kale salad can be found easily at your local grocery store.
- Kale – For this salad, we want the stems removed- just keep the leafy green part. Also make sure it is shredded for easier eating.
- Radicchio – Make sure the core is removed and this is also shredded. You only want the leaves.
- Basil – Fresh basil adds not only a bite but also fresh flavor to this easy kale salad recipe.
- Salt and pepper – I prefer to use sea salt and freshly cracked pepper.
- Lemon – Always use fresh lemon instead of the bottled variety. We will use the lemon for both fresh lemon juice and lemon zest.
- Extra virgin olive oil – We need a drizzle of olive oil for our lemony dressing.
- Dried currants – I love the slight sweetness that currants bring to this best kale salad recipe. They also give another texture.
- Walnuts – Toasted walnuts add both flavor and crunch to our salad.
- Pecorino Romano – There’s nothing like topping a fresh salad with freshly grated cheese.
How to Make Kale Salad
With it’s simple dressing and basic ingredients, this is the easiest way to make a kale salad.
- Toss greens. In a large salad bowl toss kale, radicchio and basil. Season dry greens with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss.
- Make dressing. Whisk extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice and lemon zest in a small bowl.
- Add dressing to greens. Toss greens with half of dressing.
- Toss with cheese, currants and walnuts. Add half cup cheese, currants and walnuts as well as the remaining dressing. Toss again.
- Top with remaining cheese. Garnish with remaining cheese and enjoy
What to Serve with Kale Salad
I love serving this salad as both a main meal and a side dish. For parties or large dinners, fix the salad in a large bowl with the dressing on the side.
There are endless ways you can make this raw kale salad recipe your own.
- Dressing – Not a fan of lemon? Change up the dressing! Whip up a simple dressing with dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar and maple syrup and a little oil. You could even use lime juice, white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar.
- Crunch – Instead of using walnuts, try using crispy chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, homemade croutons or sunflower seeds instead.
- Fruit – Instead of currants, you could use sweet apples cut into slices or dried cranberries for an element of sweet.
- Veggies – Feel free to throw in some extra vegetables. Red onion, cucumbers or bell peppers would all be great additions.
Storage and Freezing
Storage: You can store any leftover kale salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator. In fact, this is a great salad for meal prep; just prep them into smaller containers and they’re ready to grab and go for lunch!
Freezing: I do not recommend freezing this fresh kale salad. The different components will not all thaw correctly.
Easy Salad Recipes
Salads don’t have to be boring! Here are more salads to be served as a side dish or even entree that just might interest you.
- Three Bean Salad
- Orzo Salad with Goat Cheese and Asparagus
- Shrimp Salad Avocados
- Spinach Apple Salad
Kale Salad Recipe
- 4 cups kale stems removed, shredded and massaged*
- 1 leaves head radicchio core removed,shredded
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil , shredded
- Sea Salt and Freshly Cracked Pepper
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup dried currants
- 1/2 cup walnuts , toasted
- 1 cup Pecorino Romano , shaved
- In a large salad bowl toss the kale, radicchio and basil. Season thedry greens with the sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss and set aside.
- Whisk the olive oil, fresh lemon juice and lemon zest in a small bowl.
- Toss the greens with half of the prepared salad dressing.
- Add 1/2 cup of the cheese, currants and walnuts as well as the remaining dressing. Toss again.
- Garnish with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.
- If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings.