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Massaged Kale Salad with Apples and Gorgonzola

Bastyr adjunct faculty member Jennifer Adler M.S., C.N. contributed this recipe.  I love to watch Jennifer work with food because she loves to use her hands.  She touches and loves food into magnificent flavor and tenderness.  Jennifer likes to make a bunch of this salad at once to ensure that she have dark leafy greens ready when busy days are ahead. It tastes better as the days go by.   

1 LARGE bunch kale
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
, toasted (or Sweet Glazed Nuts)
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/3 cup currants
3/4 cup diced apple
, ( apple)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons unfiltered apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup gorgonzola
cheese, crumbled

  1. Be sure to choose a large bunch of kale (or two small ones) or the salad will be overly salty and over-dressed.  By large, I mean 16-20 leaves that are at least 12" long.
  2. De-stem kale by pulling leaf away from the stem.  Wash  leaves.  Spin or pat dry. 
  3. Stack leaves, rollup and cut into thin ribbons (chiffonade).
  4. Put kale in a large mixing bowl. Add salt, massage salt into kale with your hands for 2 whole minutes. The volume of the kale should reduce by about 1/3.
  5. To toast seeds, put in a dry skillet over low to medium heat and stir constantly for a few minutes until they change color and give off a nutty aroma.
  6. Put kale in a fresh bowl and discard any leftover liquid. 
  7. Stir onion, currants, apple and toasted seeds into kale.
  8. Dress with oil and vinegar and toss.  Taste for salt and vinegar, adding more if necessary. When at desired flavor, toss in cheese. 

Preparation time 15 minutes
Makes 6 servings


Wendy Wallace
Cynthia, I just made this (w/o cheese) and it's great! I used a bunch of kale from the farmers' market (which was small and more flat-leafed?) and wonder if it matters what kind of kale to use? This kale really smushed down a lot during the 'massage' portion.
May 31, 2009, 7:12 pm

Wendy Wallace
Oh, and my husband, a real meat&potatoes guy, LOVES it! that is huge!
May 31, 2009, 8:30 pm

Cynthia Lair
hmmm. That doesn't sound like kale I'm familiar with. Most kale has curly edges or bumps - not flat leafed. I like to use curly-leafed kale or lacinato kale.
June 1, 2009, 2:06 pm

Fran Post
I live in a Co-Housing Community & my husband prepared this for our weekly community meal yesterday. There were NO leftovers, just raves AND a round of applause by all in appreciation. We picked the kale from our community garden the day before making the recipe. There wasn't any liquid in the bowl after massaging it & I wondered if that was due to its' freshness? BTW there is another wonderful recipe for kale on - Lacinato Kale and Ricotta Salata Salad; read the reviews there for additional ways to turn it into a one-meal dish - yum
June 2, 2009, 10:37 am

Wendy Wallace
O! I wonder what we ate! It was fresh, fresh something....
June 2, 2009, 6:47 pm

Gillian Clark
The day I'd stopped at a roadside farm stand to pick some some kale, from the kale sale this recipe came across my desk. I just made it and my hubby and I chowed it down--yum. Next time I will use less salt, as I think it was a little too salty this time. Fran, there was no liquid left in my bowl either and my kale spent 5 days in the fridge.
June 2, 2009, 9:48 pm

Si Sam
This was delicious!!! Do you think you'd be able to make it with Swiss Chard as well? I used Dinosaur Kale and I had plenty of green frothy liquids come out, but I have some fresh swiss chard in my fridge and would like to try it if you think it would work. Thanks! :)
June 3, 2009, 1:51 pm

Cynthia Lair
Since chard is a more tender leaf, you might try less massaging time and a little less salt.
June 3, 2009, 4:37 pm

Wendy Wallace
Cynthia, I asked at the farmer's market today and it was white and red russian kale I had gotten. Never heard of that! But I ate it and it was good.
June 13, 2009, 7:30 pm

Wow. This salad is amazingly delicious! It is crazy that massaging the kale with salt will eliminate the bitterness like that. Thank you for this!!!!
July 7, 2009, 1:31 pm

Phenomenal. I can not say enough good things about this dish. Just served it with slow cooked Black-eyed peas. Going back for left overs right now!
July 10, 2009, 10:14 am

This salad is spectacular! Who would've thought to massage the salt into the greens? I usually blanche kale. I love this recipe and I love the site and especially the good humour that goes along with it! Feels like my house! Can you cut down on the amount of salt a little and perhaps massage a couple more minutes??
July 18, 2009, 6:57 pm

Best. Salad. Ever.
September 9, 2009, 6:53 pm

Made it with fresh-killed kale and chard from my garden, and it was phenomenal.
September 9, 2009, 6:54 pm

I make this salad with red peppers from my garden in place of the apples and feta in place of the gorgonzola. My new weekday lunch!
October 7, 2009, 10:06 am

This was beyond good! Thanks for the great idea. I NEVER would've thought of this!
October 13, 2009, 12:36 pm

Tammy Gifford
I will have to try this! It sounds quite good and would be a neat way to reintroduce kale. We have tried the Kale chips and no one liked them.
November 18, 2009, 3:05 pm

Love love love this salad! I had never had kale before, but after making this and also the braised kale, it's my new favorite green. Also, I have a question for Cynthia. I've heard some things about how kale is a superfood, is this true and how so?
December 1, 2009, 10:03 pm

Cynthia Lair
Kale is a nutrient-rich food - meaning that it has a lot of nutrients packed into a low calorie food. Kale is particularly strong in anti-oxidants like vitamins A, C, and K (cancer-fighting). It also has appreciable amounts of calcium, magnesium and folic acid. That's why it is considered a super-food!
December 8, 2009, 7:51 am

Shannon Brousseau
Thank you for this fabulous recipe. All three of my kids absolutely love it and I couldn't be happier to hear them ask for seconds (or thirds!) of kale salad. We make this a few times a week in our household now.
January 7, 2010, 10:45 am

Ellie Downing
Best kale salad ever!! It's a hit every single time. Thank you for sharing.
January 9, 2010, 10:18 am

Pat Sargent
Our daughter introduced us to your site and this salad. It is an out an out winner. Served it at a dinner party and it was a big success especially with the men which surprised me. One guy asked for seconds and cleaned out the bowl.
January 16, 2010, 10:34 pm

Cyndi Wood
I will absolutely try this recipe. I love your blog and videos!!
January 18, 2010, 5:53 pm

Margaret Pesicka
Delicious! We press it onto the salad plate using my venerable Tupperware patty maker then top the salad with a poached egg and garnish with thinly sliced apple wedges and chopped nuts. Guests think we really knocked ourselves out.
January 22, 2010, 3:07 pm

Stephanie Lemmer
I'm very excited to try this recipe. I will be making it for a potluck, and am wondering if I would double the recipe, would I need to double the salt? I am worried that 2 tsp of salt may be overkill? Thank you.
February 18, 2010, 11:20 am

Cynthia Lair
Stephanie, Start with 1.5 teaspoons. Once massaged, give the leaves a taste and you'll know if you need more.
February 18, 2010, 11:46 am

Stephanie Lemmer
So speedy! Thank you, Cynthia. I just checked on my apple cider vinegar (raw). I cannot recall when I used it last (over a year?) and it was in the cupboard. Is that supposed to be in the fridge after opening? I tasted it, and am waiting to see about the food poison.;) Anyway, seeing as I am feeding other people, if that is risky, do you have another suggestion for dressing? Could I sub toasted sesame oil and brown rice vinegar? It is cool communicating with you...Your book, Feeding the Whole Family, has been a favorite of ours. The sesame noodles always disappear instantly (even when it is just me eating;). TIA!
February 18, 2010, 12:08 pm

Penny Brewer
No one believed me when I told them you could massage kale! As a massage therapist, I love using my hands and this is one therapeutic recipe I LOVE to make!! And it is even better the next day, that is of course if you have leftovers!! I always double the recipe so I can have breakfast, err, I mean, lunch, the next day! (I admit, I eat this for breakfast!) Thanks Cynthia!
March 19, 2010, 2:14 am

I made this with green onions in place of red and ditched the cheese. After dinner I had a little leftover short grain brown rice and tossed it in the salad and wow, what a transformation. The rice really added body and balanced out the slightly over salted flavor. It was delicious!
May 7, 2010, 3:07 pm

Jamil Evans
A friend of ours recommended this recipe. I had high expectations. They were exceeded! I made it without cheese, and used raisins instead of currants, and it tasted great. Thanks!
May 17, 2010, 7:50 pm

Jeff Blumenkrantz
Hi Cynthia- I've served this salad twice now, and it is an unqualified hit! What a great recipe - thanks!
May 23, 2010, 10:26 pm

We love this recipe! It has become a weekly staple, and our favorite way to eat kale. Our girls, 8 & 6, love it too!
June 12, 2010, 10:45 am

Craig Wood
WOW! Made this for 4th of July gathering and they couldn't get enough; had to give several people the link so they could make it at home. A HUGE hit!!!
July 4, 2010, 3:11 pm

Anne Ramberg
I love this salad! I love that it is healthy and tastes fantastic and that I can substitute different ingredients, depending on what is on-hand in the kitchen. I learned about your website via KUOW. My husband and I are now using your cookbook to teach us how to feed our baby, who so far, says yum (and can I have some cash).
January 24, 2011, 9:37 pm

Jeannie Gaughan
Was wondering if I can make this the night before, will it be just as good. I recently ate this kale salad and got the recipe. Jeannie
January 28, 2011, 7:03 am

Cynthia Lair
Jeannie, This salad holds up very well for a day or two.
January 28, 2011, 9:04 am

Nick Simons
I'm excited to go make this right now. How is it that nobody commented on the curious guys who walked into the picture, stood around, and first asked for cashews and the second who stood there much longer until he was handed a big wad of money?
March 10, 2011, 8:24 am

Peter Gillespie
Hey, we've been massaging kale here for a while and have never used salt, which I never heard of before and which I think would be way too salty. We massage and then rinse, spin and then start adding other stuff. It's always great! Even the dog eats it.
April 21, 2011, 7:08 pm

Anne Welsbacher
sooo.... just what was she paying him for, hmmm?
September 15, 2011, 8:25 am

lynnita ellis
would feta work as a sub for gorgonzola?
September 15, 2011, 2:33 pm

Cynthia Lair
Yes Lynnita, I have made this salad several times with feta. Very good.
September 15, 2011, 7:42 pm

wendy allred
SQUEEZE the kale as you move it to the second bowl!
October 22, 2011, 6:39 am

Elizabeth Brammer
This is easily one of my most popular dishes, and probably the one I give the recipe out on the most. People adore it. I can't believe how delicious and healthy it is. Kudos!
January 6, 2012, 1:24 pm

Half Assed Kitchen
This video is SO adorable. Just shared it on my Half Assed Kitchen Facebook page.
January 19, 2012, 6:32 pm

derek gluten
All I know is that I was in lots of pain. Stomach cramps, pains all over, bad headaches, and exhausted! I was so sick and tired that it became hard to get out of bed in the morning.
May 5, 2012, 12:39 pm

Beverly Baumgartner
This salad is world-changing. I don't know how many dozens of people I've shared the recipe with. Thank you!
August 22, 2012, 1:30 pm

Cynthia, if I stood behind you in the kitchen and watched you cook, would you pay me to leave to..?
September 4, 2012, 4:58 pm

Patty MH
Love this super food that has never disappointed no matter how many ways I tweak it (type of vinegar, cheese, nut, seed or fruit substitutions)! I frequently get requests for the recipe.
September 4, 2012, 5:01 pm

David Willis
Just had my first helping of this delectable salad alongside slices of heirloom tomato and an ear of white corn. Heaven on a plate!
September 5, 2012, 9:51 pm

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