Kale salads are popping up all over the place these days. You can get a kale salad from Wahoo’s fish tacos to a four star restaurant. Some are good, some are not so great. So what makes the good ones stand out? I will share the secret with you how to prepare the best kale salad at home. The best part? It’s super easy, fast and highly nutrient dense and packed with cancer-fighting properties.
Kale Nutrition Facts
In two loosely packed cups, raw kale packs a punch of nutrition. Your body will receive a hefty dose of calcium, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin B6, and fiber. Two cups will cost you a whopping 16 calories and next to no carbohydrates. It is absolutely considered a superfood, for the large amounts of vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and flavonoids contained in such a small amount is mind boggling. Aah, just think, it was once only known as a “garnish”.
Secrets to the Best Kale Salad
So it’s nutritious, but treating it like regular lettuce won’t give anything I’d want to eat! Raw kale requires a special preparation method to transform tough leaves into tender morsels. Here’s the special “know how” knowledge to make it delicious!
No Stems Allowed
The stems of kale are very bitter and very fibrous, they are not for eating. We must remove! Here’s the easiest way to do that. Fold leaves in so they are touching and the stem is exposed on the edge. Grab leafy part with one hand close to the stem and pull stem away from leaves moving upward. See the photos below. It’s super easy and quite effective.
Little Pieces Please
Since kale is rather tough, there are two steps needed to make it tender. The first is to tear into small pieces. Do not cut – tear! Like so,
Only Fresh Kale Will Do (No Prepared Bags)
Some places like Trader Joe’s sells prepared kale in a bag. Trust me, you will be grossed out if you try to make a raw kale salad with the “ready to eat” kale. I can’t even put it in my smoothies. They leave the stems on the kale, so most little peaces of green leaf are attached to a stem piece. Look at the photo. The left pile is from a prepared Trader Joe’s bag of kale. The right pile is prepped at home with stems removed. You can tell which one is going to be more appetizing just by looking.
A Massage Makes the Best Kale Salad
You must massage the kale. Massage? YES! Massaging the kale with olive oil and salt tenderizes those tough leaves. It breaks the cell walls, transforming the rough leafy greens into tender morsels. Massaging takes all of 1-2 minutes, so you must not skip this critical step. Dressing the kale leaves like a regular salad will result in a completely different salad. See photo below (kale after a nice massage).
Quality Ingredients is a Must
This salad is dressed only with reduced balsamic vinegar, olive oil and truffle salt, so all three ingredients must be of the utmost quality.
If you can’t find any reduced vinegar, you can make your own by simmering regular balsamic vinegar to half of it’s original volume with a bit white sugar added. If you can, get an awesome reduction by going to a farmers market, a wine or olive oil shop. If you can’t find it anywhere else, you can try one like this on Amazon here. I like to try new types, the one used here has fig infused by Manassero Farms (got it at one of their produce stands).
Reduced vinegar is thicker and sweeter than regular, making it a dream to dress salads with.
If you’ve never tried black truffle salt before, you’re seriously missing out! It provides amazing aroma and taste to just about anything you sprinkle it on. Since this salad is so simple, the truffle is able to stand out and be a showcase. The salad will still taste amazing even without the truffle salt, but be sure to get some and try it out for the future! I get mine at a gourmet salt store nearby, but if I wasn’t in an area where that was available, I’d opt for this one here.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
You’ll want a quality, fruit forward extra virgin olive oil for this recipe. You can never go wrong with California Olive Ranch products.
I am in love with nuts. And whats even more amazing is when they are glazed. Toss some in a salad for an extraordinary addition. I love this simple recipe for candied walnuts in 5 minutes here. Be sure to keep a bag full in your freezer!
The Best Kale Salad Recipe
- 2 cups Kale, loosely packed (torn into small peices like shown above)
- 1 Tablespoon Extra virgin olive oil
- 1/8 teaspoon Truffle salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoon Reduced balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon Pepitas
- 1 Tablespoon Sunflower seeds
- 1 Tablespoon Candied nuts
- 1 Tablespoon Dried cherries
- 1 teaspoon Chia seeds
- 1 Tablespoon Feta cheese
- Wash and dry kale leaves.
- Remove stems as illustrated above.
- Tear kale into small pieces, see size above into bowl
- Drizzle olive oil and salt over kale.
- Massage for 2 minutes. Kale will turn dark green and volume will reduce by about half.
- Drizzle balsamic vinegar over kale. Toss to coat.
- Add in desired add ins listed above, except cheese.
- Toss to mix.
- Serve in bowl and top with cheese.
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