The Secret to a Making a Great Kale Salad

Kale and sweet potato salad

This post will show you the secret to making kale taste so good that you’ll crave it. When kale started to become the “it” thing, I must admit that I ate it because I wanted to benefit from it’s nutritional wonders but the taste was hard for me to swallow. I tried many kale salad recipes but were never blown away with them and mostly disguised this wondergreen in smoothies. This was before I learned the SECRET to making kale taste good. Now that I know how to make kale more palatable, I eat it raw all the time. Even my husband requests kale salads.

The Secret to Making a Great Kale Salad

The secret to making kale taste great is to massage it. Massaging kale with acidic ingredients like fresh lemon, olive oil, Tahini and Tamari breaks down it’s toughness and softens it’s bitterness. Massaged kale relaxes to nearly half it’s volume and losses it’s bitterness. Kale is such a nice salad base before not only does it hold dressings well, but it doesn’t wilt like lettuce so you can prep it ahead of time without worrying about soggy greens.

This makes kale salads ideal for lunches or if you are bringing a dish to a dinner party. (They are pretty too!)

DSC_0886 - Copy

Clean a bunch or two of kale either Lacinto Kale (also known as Black Kale, Tuscan Kale and Dinosaur Kale) or curly kale. Start by submerging it in a large bowl filled with water and swooshing it around. Repeat with fresh water.  Dry the kale leaves with a clean cloth or salad spinner. (I de-stem the wet kale into my salad spinner since it’s easier to spin without the stem).

How to De-stem Kale:

To remove the stems, take a kale leaf and hold onto the base (bottom) of the thick stem. Making a light fist with the other hand gently drag it over the stem while pulling the stalk through. Your fingers create friction that separates the greenery from the stem. It’s as if you are “unzipping” the kale from it’s stalk.

(If it’s stubborn to start, lightly loosen the greenery at the base with your fingers so you can gain momentum and then start to pull it though).

The strips don’t come out perfectly but that’s OK since you will be tearing them up for the salad. Remove any woody stems that got left behind.





PS..Shouldn’t hubby be a hand model???

Once the stems have been removed, tear the kale with your hands into bit sized pieces.

How to Massage Kale: 

Place the torn kale into a large bowl (discard any woody stems). Add half of a lemon, tablespoon Tamari, 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1-2 tablespoons of Tahini and a small drizzle of (optional) maple syrup and or nutritional yeast if you like. With clean hands, knead and massage the kale for about 3-5 minutes until it has wilted and the dressing is evenly mixed.  It’s a little messy, but this technique makes all the difference. Taste and adjust dressing as needed.

Deliciously Ella has a wonderful video tutorial on this. To view it click here.

Kale and sweet potato salad

Now you have the base for a delicious kale salad with a tasty Tahini/Tamari dressing and can play around with toppings. For this one, I added roasted sweet potatoes, avocado, Pepitas (raw pumpkin seeds) and raw sunflower seeds.

Kale Salad with Sweet Potato and Avocado

Serves 2


For the Salad:

  • 1-2 bunches of Lacinto or Curly kale
  • Half a roasted sweet potato (see recipe below)
  • Half an avocado
  • Small handful of Pepitas and Sunflower Seeds
  • (Optional) Red leaf or Romaine lettuce to mix in

For the Dressing: 

Measurements depend on how much kale you are using. I typically use 2 bunches which fills a large salad bowl. You can also mix in Romaine or Red leaf lettuce.

  • Juice from half a lemon (or more)
  • Generous drizzle (1 – 2 tablespoons) of tahini (sesame paste)
  • Drizzle of Tamari (1 tablespoon)
  • Generous drizzle of olive oil (1-2 tablespoons)
  • Generous sprinkle of nutritional yeast (optional). It’s very nutritious and adds a slightly cheesy (sharp) taste.
  • Splash of maple syrup (optional)


  1. Wash and de-stem the kale (see photos above). In a large bowl, tear kale into bite size pieces and discard any woody stems that remain.
  2. Add ingredients  for dressing directly to the kale. With clean hands massage the kale/dressing until the kale softens and shrinks (3-5 minutes or so). Kale should be relaxed and coated with dressing.
  3. Top with roasted sweet potato chunks, sliced avocado and sprinkle with pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

Recipe inspired by Deliciously Ella.

Roasting Sweet Potatoes (often called yams)

I enjoy having roasted sweet potatoes on hand since they are versatile and store nicely in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. I try to select potatoes of similar size (long and narrow).

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a cookie sheet with tin foil.
  2. Scrub potatoes and cut off the ends.
  3. With the tines of a fork, pierce the skin 3-4 times, turn 1/4 and pierce again. Repeat on 4 sides.
  4. Place on lined baking sheet and bake in oven for 45 minutes- 1 hour.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.

Kale and sweet potato salad

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *