Hail the Kale!!! –a simple scrumptious salad

Hail the Kale Salad

Remember when I first posted about Kale Chips? I stated that we were scared of kale, and that chips were the only way our family would enjoy it. Turns out, I was very, very wrong. Now, if you would have told me six months ago that Ellie and I would regularly sit down together and devour almost an entire bunch of simply adorned raw kale in one setting, I would have laughed in your face.  (And tried not to snort.)

It’s not that I didn’t want to like kale. After all, it is truly one of nature’s superfoods! Eating 1 1/2 cups of kale two to three times a week can lower cholesterol, reduce cancer cells in the body, and fight chronic inflammation.  It contains over 45 different flavonoids, and is a great way to naturally detoxify the body. For some reason, it just didn’t appeal to me. (I tried making kale baby food when Ellie was a baby, and we both hated it.)

Now, I get no credit for the idea of this salad or it’s clever name. Last summer, a new restaurant opened here in Kansas City called Unforked. When I went to their website to check it out, this was the opening text on their homepage…

“Craving fresh, flavorable street food?  Want to know exactly where the ingredients come from, almost as if you selected them yourself? Plus, are you looking for food that is fast, affordable, high on flavor and rich in nutrients? Yes! Then Sheridan’s Unforked Eats and Sweets is the place for you.”

Umm..yes, please!!! I made plans to meet a girlfriend at Unforked for lunch on a day when the little girls were in school. When she ordered the Hail the Kale salad, telling me it was the best salad ever, I thought she was showing off. A big pile of kale tossed with toasted breadcrumbs and grated parmesan? No thank you. She oohed and aahed so much that, eventually, I had to ask her for a bite. It was delicious. Very delicious.

When another one of my good friends asked me and the little girls to meet at her at Unforked a few weeks later, my mouth was watering for the Hail the Kale salad, but I assumed I would need to order a separate salad for the girls. Imagine my surprise when Ellie ignored her bowl of mango and strawberries in favor of my kale salad! She was literally shoving handfuls into her mouth.  My friend, Aly, was wide-eyed and super impressed! (Truth be told, so was I.)

Curious to see if this was a fluke, I made asked Darren to take us to Unforked the next Sunday after church. Ellie did it again! Realizing that this could be my new party trick, I decided to come up with a way to recreate this salad at home. After calling the restaurant to inquire about the ingredients they use in the salad dressing, I was shocked to learn how simple this salad was.  Extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, grated parmesan, toasted breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, and, of course, kale.  That’s it.

Last summer, while co-teaching a cooking class at our local Whole Foods Market, Lisa Markley taught me that raw kale really benefits from a good massage. (Who doesn’t benefit from a good massage?!?)  Massaging the raw greens make them easier to digest, and the nutrients easier for the body to absorb. At this point, I had a technique and an ingredient list. Ten minutes later, I had created an inexpensive and easy way to fuel my Hail the Kale cravings at home. It is Darren approved, Aly approved, and Ellie approved.

(The best part is bonding over a bowl of kale with my favorite two-year-old.)

Hail the Kale Salad

Ingredients (Serves 4 as a side item, in theory):
Organic green kale, 1 bunch

Extra virgin olive oil, 2 tbsp
Fresh lemon juice, 1 1/2 – 2 tbsp, depending on your preference for lemon
Sea salt, 1/2 tsp
Fresh ground black pepper, 1/2 tsp

Grated parmesan, 1 tbsp
Toasted breadcrumbs, 1 tbsp

Instructions (10 minutes, start to finish):

Use a paring knife to separate kale leaves from thick stems.  Compost stems or freeze for a future broth.

Wash and thoroughly dry kale leaves. I use my salad spinner.

Place kale in a large bowl and sprinkle with just a pinch of sea salt. (Less than 1/4 teaspoon.)

Tear kale into small pieces (1/2 inch-ish) and massage for 3 – 4 minutes. (Pretend that you are giving someone a shoulder massage. Grab kale, massage, and then do it to some more. This is not a joke.) The kale will start to shrink down and reduce in volume.  This is good.  When kale is fully relaxed and all tension has been released, set aside. (That was a joke. Kind of. If it was really funny, I shouldn’t have felt the need to mention that it was a joke. Well, now that you’ve heard my inner monologue, let’s move on. Sheesh.)

In a small glass jar with lid, shake together olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Remember to squeeze  your lemon cut side up to prevent the seeds from going in your dressing.

Toss kale with dressing and 1 tbsp parmesan until every green is coated. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with breadcrumbs.

If you over the age of two, serve with a fork and enjoy! If you are two or under, just dig in with your hands.

Notes: Kale is one of the veggies consistently on EWG’s dirty dozen list, so please source the organic variety whenever possible. Luckily, even our local mainstream grocery store keeps organically grown kale in stock.  This salad is naturally vegetarian and nut-free. Those sensitive to gluten can omit the breadcrumbs or use their favorite gluten-free variety instead. (If you notice that Annie was not mentioned in this post, it is because she is anti-lettuce. In her opinion, kale equals lettuce. We are growing several different varieties in our garden this year so hopefully she will change her mind after growing her own.)

<—- Happy spring from my mischievous little kale lover

Disclosure: Posts may contain affiliate links. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Healthnut Foodie will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated and allows us to help spread the message of real food and living well.

Truestar Health


  1. Looks delicious, I will definitely have to try this recipe!

  2. We eat lots of different versions of this dish. Any citrus with olive oil is awesome on kale. We also add a bit of honey sometimes. YUM!

  3. Totally going to try this! I've always been a little bit scared of kale. If Ellie can eat it, so can I! 🙂 And I will be encouraging the girls to as well!

  4. molly long says:

    this is a silly question, but… do you buy your toasted breadcrumbs or make them your self. if so, how? thanks. this salad looks great!

  5. It was delicious and every bit as good (better) than the salad at Unforked. Aren't you glad you tried it???

  6. @eric — Thank you so much! I enjoyed visiting your site as well!

  7. Just because I am obsessed with lime and cumin….I would love to play with another version to serve with chicken tacos. Honey sounds great!

  8. I was a total kale scaredy-cat!!! With the little girls, I think that the smaller you tear the pieces, and the longer you massage it, the better.
    Good luck and so glad Grace is doing great!

  9. Molly — We make our own, but it is a very ghetto version. When I send the girls sandwiches in their preschool lunches, I always send them on toasted Ezekial bread. I then cut the bread into seasonal shapes using cookie cutters. I put the leftover bread in a freezer bag and then freeze it until the bag is full. I then pulse the (literally) toasted bread crumbs in a food processor and quickly return to the freezer. I normally go through a bag of crumbs every few months. We also use the non-crumbed frozen bread for feeding ducks.

  10. I tried it and now I like it!!!

  11. I am so glad that you took the time to teach us how to make it at home. Really excited not to pay $5 for a single serving!!!

  12. this salad is amazing! i love it too..didn't think/know much about kale, but thanks for posting the recipe so i can make it myself!

  13. We hopped on the kale bandwagon with kale chips too, and now we can't get enough! This salad looks wonderful and one my hubs and I would definitely scarf down (I think raw kale may still be hard for my 19 month old to chew up, but we'll see). That last pic of your daughter is gorgeous! Its great to meet you through FoodBuzz and I look forward to reading more of your blog!

  14. You're welcome, Kate! My favorite part is how easy it is!!!

  15. Hi Maggie! I'm excited to have connected with you too! Once you massage the kale, I think that your 19 month old would be able to munch on it. I truly thought I hated raw kale, but only because I'd missed the “massage” step! Your blog looks awesome too!

  16. molly long says:

    i finally made the salad to go with dinner tonight and i really liked it and so did my husband. (still working on the kids). thanks for a great recipe!

  17. I thought it was $8?

  18. Yay! You are welcome! I ran into another friend today was shocked that her hubby liked it too!

  19. $8, yes.


  1. […] if you’ve wanted to know exactly how to massage kale for Hale the Kale salad, this short video clip is for […]

  2. […] you remember when I first shared our family’s favorite kale salad recipe? At the time, Ellie was two, and I joked that I was going to show off her love of kale as my next […]

Speak Your Mind