Massaged Kale Greek Salad

Servings : Prep Time : Cook Time : Ready In : This recipe for massaged kale Greek salad turns grumpy tough bitter kale into happy soft sweet leaf salad. A few short minutes makes all the difference.

Massaged Kale Greek Salad in a yellow bowl

A massage works wonders, be it on a human or kale. This Massaged Kale Greek Salad turns raw kale from tough and bitter into soft and sweet.  

Massaged Kale Greek Salad


  • 8 ounces (about) chopped kale
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil, preferably lemon infused
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup, or as desired, cherry tomatoes, cut into halves
  • 1/3 cup (about) Kalamata olives, cut into quarters
  • 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup, or as desired, Feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup shelled pistachio nuts, toasted and salted


Step 1

Place the kale in a large bowl, drizzle the olive oil over the top, squeeze the lemon juice over, and then add the salt. Using your hands, gently begin massaging the kale, (as you would knead bread) using your fingers to gently rub the leaves and pull them apart from the hard center stem. After about 2 minutes you will feel the leaves get softer, remove any stems from the mix as they become loose. Continue to massage the kale for about 4-5 minutes. Add the additional ingredients and toss well.

Step 2

You can massage the kale and leave it in the refrigerator for a few hours before composing the salad. You could make this salad in its entirety up to 1 hour before serving - add the nuts at the last minute to preserve their crunch.

The making of Massaged Kale Greek Salad



Kale. We all know it’s good for us, full of vitamins, minerals, antitoxins. It s a nutrient-rich food. One of the best sources of vitamin K, A, and C. It also has large amounts of magnesium and potassium. It can help lower cholesterol and Yada Yada Yada. We know this.

But, kale can be tough. Kale can be bitter. Especially in the raw stage. Much better cooked as far as the mouth goes, but more nutrient-rich when served raw. So how does one go from making kale into a raw star, other than throwing it into your morning smoothie? The answer I found is simple. Give it a good massage.


Why Massage?

Just as you might enjoy a good massage to loosen up your tense muscles, kale loves a good massage to break down the tough cellulose and fiber that makes it hard to chew, harder to digest, and just not so much fun in your mouth. It also turns it from being slightly bitter to being sweeter.

I mean a massage does that for you, so why not kale?


Turn this


Raw kale in a bowl before the massage


Into this


Kale for the Massaged Greek Salad after the massage


Without all this


The stems left after massaging the kale


The art of the massage


Massaging the kale for the Greek Salad


Just like kneading bread, you want to use your hands and gently, but firmly, massage the leaves of the kale, using your fingers to separate the leaves from the tough stems. After about 2 minutes you will notice a distinct change in the look and feel of your kale. Keep massaging for a few minutes longer until your kale is as soft as you like it.

Don’t over massage. You want soft tender kale, not mushy kale.

Remove the hard stems as they become separated from the leaves. Unless, of course, you enjoy the hard stems. Then just leave them. Me, not so much.

The combination of massage, along with the oil, lemon juice, and salt is what works its magic.


A yellow bowl with Massaged Kale Greek Salad ready to be served


Where’s the dressing?

You might notice there is no recipe for any dressing. That’s because by putting the lemon-flavored olive oil, lemon juice, and salt on the leaves before you massage them, you are actually making the dressing as you make the kale soft and tender. It’s one reason I recommend you use a lemon-infused olive oil, although a good extra virgin olive oil will do the job. And with only 1 teaspoon of oil being used, you know that helps keep the fat and calories down too.

Not that I can claim this is low-fat. The olives, Feta, and pistachios all have fat. So use those ingredients as you see fit.


A side view of the massaged kale Greek salad with antique spoons


Make it in advance

This salad is so easy to make in advance. As a matter of fact, I think it’s better when allowed to sit for a while, an hour or so before it’s served to allow all of the flavors to blend.  The Feta melds into the kale, the meaty olives lend their brininess to the program, the thinly sliced red onion starts to soften and sweeten, and the tomatoes lend their juices to the mix. The only thing I would not add until the last minute is the pistachios. Keep them until just ready to serve so they maintain their crunch.

Refrigerated to hold – then remove the salad at least 15 minutes prior to serving so it’s not ice cold. Better at almost room temperature.


An overhead view of massaged kale Greek salad


So there you have it. Thinking outside of the shake. A new easy way to incorporate healthy kale into your life.

I hope you try giving your kale a good massage. It will make you, and your kale, so happy!


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Recipe Comments

  1. posted by Brian on September 6, 2019

    Amazing what a little massage does to soften this tough fibrous veggie…and salad dressing comes with the massage!

    Great dish.


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