raw kale salad with citrus dressing recipe

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Raw Kale Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette | Pamela Salzman

The first time I ever made kale in a class, one student said ,”I’m afraid of kale.  I don’t know what to do with it.”  In each subsequent class that month, there would be someone else who said the same thing.  Say it isn’t so!  Are you the same people that use kale as a garnish for fruit salad platters?  You’re killing me!

Kale is your friend, your BFF even!  I must brag about this rock star leafy green.  Kale contains tremendous amounts of Vitamins K, A and C, as well as calcium and magnesium (very calming minerals, mind you.)  Allow me to keep going.  I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that kale is full of some powerful cancer-preventive compounds called glucosinolates and antioxidants (flavonoids), plus an amazing amount of ALA, the basic building block for Omega-3 fatty acids.   What I’m trying to say is that kale will love you inside and out.

How can you incorporate kale into your diet?  I love to saute it with garlic and olive oil, toss it into soups, slice it thinly and add it to tomato sauce, or roast it into a crispy chip.  But this salad is one of my favorites and has converted many non-kale-eaters, or kale-fearers, as the case may be.   Usually I teach a recipe so many times in a month that I never want to eat it again.  Except this one.  I make it at a least once per week and just change how I eat it according to what’s in season.  It is even my go-to meal for traveling because it is light, but filling and can handle being dressed ahead of time.  My standby is to add quinoa and chopped avocado, sometimes with a few sunflower seeds.  The girls take it to school for lunch usually topped with feta, quinoa, and some grated carrots.  However you decide to make this your own, the key to success here is thinly slicing the kale and massaging the dressing into the shredded leaves.  I actually give the kale a bit of squeeze with the dressing.  This will soften the leaves and reduce any bitterness you might expect.

I felt utter joy when my son, Mr. Picky (shown here massaging dressing into the kale), finally tried this salad and gave it the thumbs-up.  I do not exaggerate when I say he had been “exposed” to this salad at least 25 times before he tried it!  Don’t give up, people.

raw kale salad with citrus dressing recipe
Serves: 6
  • 2 bunches of black kale (aka Tuscan, lacinato or dinosaur kale), about 12-14 ounces, wash and dried
  • Dressing:
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • A few twists of black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons minced shallot
  • 2 teaspoons 100% pure maple syrup or raw honey
  • 6-7 Tablespoons unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil (you can also substitute 2 Tbs. of flax seed oil for 2 Tbs. of olive oil)
  1. Remove the stems from the kale (see photo for an easy method -- by stripping the stem from the leaves) and stack a bunch on a cutting board. Thinly slice the kale with a sharp knife and transfer to a serving bowl. Repeat with remaining kale.
  2. Prepare the dressing: whisk all the ingredients in a small bowl and add enough dressing to coat the kale lightly. Massage the kale with the dressing. Add in your favorite salad fixings (shown here with red cabbage, quinoa, avocado and walnuts) and additional dressing, if needed.

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  1. Pat says

    Pam, I am in love – on my way to the supermarket to get more kale, only bought one bunch to see how I would like it – two bunches this time, I think I am going to add fresh orange segments, dried cranberries and toasted slivered almonds. I thought about pears, but that will the next bowl. This is good enough that I can eat it everyday and not be bored. Thanks

    • Pamela says

      Thanks for reporting back, Pat. I swear, I eat a version of this salad once a week all year. I’ve been making it for about 6 or 7 years!

  2. Pat says

    I am going to make and try my first kale salad today. I will post tomorrow and let you know how much I enjoyed it. I love kale – I don’t know what took me so long. Thanks Pam for your dressing recipe, I think I am going to add julienned apples and pumpkin seeds. Already lost 25 pounds and not trying to find it LOL.

    • Pamela says

      Haha! Funny, Pat. Apples and pumpkin seeds will be perfect with the kale. DOn’t forget to massage the kale leaves. Makes all the difference!

  3. Paul says

    I love these new ways to enjoy kale! I first made a kale soup (which had a bitter taste; perhaps I should have added sweet paprika.
    That salad dressing that Pamela shared is going to be great!
    Take a look at Dr. Joel Ferhman’s book on “eat to live”.

  4. says

    I make this once a week and I love how flexible it is, you can add whatever you have in the house. I like it with red pepper, sesame seeds and pinenuts. I hope you are ok if I share the love via the link on my blog. Marla x

  5. says

    This is a great salad and dressing recipe! I went slaw style and added shredded carrots, broccoli stems, raisins and toasted sunflower seeds. Brought to the first BBQ of the season and it was a huge hit. I added the tiniest amount of garam masala to the dressing. With all of the meat protein options there, the salad was a refreshing foil, as well as happiness for the veggies in the crowd. Thank you!

    • Pamela says

      I am so glad you wrote in your version, which sounds delicious!! Because I eat this salad all the time (seriously), I am always looking to change it up a bit. Thank you!!

  6. Jenny says

    My 7 year old daughter just tried this salad and now it is her favorite. I am soooo happy what she is eating raw kale! Thank you Pamela!

  7. Jackie says

    Hi Pamela. Where do you buy this type of kale? I’ve only come across the curly stuff at the markets…

    • Pamela says

      Jackie, I buy this kale at the Torrance farmer’s market, Whole Foods and Grow. It is not always available, but I am able to find it quite often. The curly kale is not my preferred variety in the salad, but it can still work if you massage the dressing in ahead of time and allow it to soften a bit more.

  8. Marty says

    I can’t wait to make this! I have a potluck to go to Saturday night, and I’m going to try this. I read about a massaged-kale salad before, but just never tried to make it.

    I use kale in smoothies and my fav recipe is a Kale Butter recipe in Rip Esselytn’s Engine Type 2 Diet cookbook.

    • Pamela says

      Perfect to bring to a potluck since the kale holds up perfectly for a day or two dressed with vinaigrette. My favorite lunch is this salad mixed with cooked quinoa and avocado.

  9. Marcia says

    Thank you so much for this website and this recipe. I know how nutritious kale is , but never could fathom what to do with it. This salad is outrageous! I had to beg Steven not to eat it all so I would have leftovers for tomorrow. I know you are a great cook b/c I’ve tasted your delicious food, but now I can benefit from your knowledge here in NY.
    Thanks :)

  10. Gita says

    Most people are under the impression that kale can not be
    eaten raw! Try this recipe and I can promise, you won’t be
    disappointed. I have made this salad for my dinner parties
    many times and everyone loves it.

  11. Palmina says

    After trying Pamela’s kale salad this summer, I made it at home and was surprised that I needed no bribery to get my kids and my husband to try it. It became a staple in our home over the summer — much to everyone’s shock. The dressing is so delicious and compliments the crunchy greens perfectly.

  12. Luisa says

    I served this raw kale salad to guests who just loved it! There were no leftovers! I had to give the recipe to all of them. The dressing is just superb with the crunchy greens. And the best part is that it is so very healthy for you.

  13. sonia says

    I LOVE THIS SALAD! I had never had kale before, and when Pamela made it with her salad
    dressing, it was to die for. I became a believer. I love the crunchiness. I love that you can
    dress it and you can have it the next day, and it’s still yummy and fresh.


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