Massaged Kale Salad w/ Toasted Pine Nuts, Dried Cranberries & Shaved Parmesan

Copyright © 2013 Tonya L. Mercer All Rights Reserved.
Copyright © 2013 Tonya L. Mercer All Rights Reserved.

            This week we had the pleasure of exchanging recipes with a culinary class in Peru.  It is amazing what the internet can do – literally connecting us with a country in another hemisphere, as if our kitchens were one.  The idea was to exchange traditional American and Peruvian recipes and demonstrate to each other how to prepare them.  We then went back to our respective kitchens to prepare the other country’s recipes.  Next week, we will get back together via internet to talk about our experiences.  We had a translator to help with the English-Spanish barrier, but it was amazing how many concepts, words, and preparation methods are universal in the culinary world.  Cooking is a language that bridges cultural gaps, just like love.  And if you love cooking, you are that much closer no matter what language you speak.  Being located in the South, our Chef wanted to share Southern dishes.  The recipe that I demonstrated for our Peruvian friends was the Massaged Kale Salad that I am going to share with you today.  A friend told me afterwards “you make a mean kale salad!”  So, I decided to make it for a light dinner on a day that I had eaten way too much for lunch.  My husband told me that it was one of the best things I’ve made and that I could tell you all that he gives this salad rave reviews.  He loved the layers of flavor.

            When I say “kale,” you might be thinking it’s just a green like collard, turnip, or mustard greens.  It is a green similar to these, part of the Brassica family that includes cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.  When you look at it raw, it has a greenish-gray color and is tough like a collard or turnip green.

Copyright © 2013 Tonya L. Mercer All Rights Reserved.
Copyright © 2013 Tonya L. Mercer All Rights Reserved.

Kale lends itself to the same traditional Southern preparations of these greens.  But, kale also has a more vibrant and tender side that literally can be massaged out of it.  It is a super nutritious vegetable and is a trendy choice these days. It actually was sold out at my local Harris Teeter the other day!  According to WebMD, 1 cup of kale has only 36 calories, but is packed with nutrients: 5g fiber, 15% RDV of calcium and vitamin B6, 40% of magnesium, 180% of vitamin A, 200% of vitamin C, and 1020% of vitamin K. Vitamins A, C, and K are antioxidant vitamins associated with anti-cancer health benefits.  There are so many other good things about kale, you should just click the WebMD link above to read about them.

Massaged Kale Salad w/ Toasted Pine Nuts, Dried Cranberries and Shaved Parmesan


  • 1 pound kale
  • juice from 2 fresh lemons
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup shaved Parmesan cheese (not shredded)
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
Copyright © 2013 Tonya L. Mercer All Rights Reserved.
Copyright © 2013 Tonya L. Mercer All Rights Reserved.


  • Wash whole kale leaves thoroughly in cool water. Be sure to get dirt from around stem and trapped in curly leaves.  The leaves can be quite dirty sometimes.  If they are, soak them in a bath of salty water, dipping and lifting the leaves from the water to leave the soil in the bowl.  Repeat if necessary.
  • Pull cleaned leaves from the stems, tearing larger leaves at top of the stem into bite sized pieces.
  • Place the kale into a bowl (a mixing bowl if you will use a stand mixer to massage the kale) and drizzle the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper over the kale.
  • Massage the kale, using your hands (washed and wearing gloves if you are serving others) or in a stand mixer on medium speed using a dough hook.  You will notice immediately when you begin massaging that the kale leaves change color, becoming a vibrant deep green, and the texture becomes markedly more tender.  If massaging with your hands it may take 10 or so minutes to achieve the tender texture desired for the salad.  If using a mixer, make sure you use a dough hook so you don’t tear the kale.  It will take 5-7 minutes to achieve the texture desired.
  • Adjust lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.
  • Finish the salad with dried cranberries, shaved parmesan and toasted pine nuts.
  • If you have a block of parmesan, use a vegetable peeler to shave into the salad.  You can buy already shaved parmesan (not shredded).
  • To toast the pine nuts, place them in a small pan over medium heat and toss several times while heating.  The nuts will start to smell toasted, you will see a toasted brown color develop, and some of the oil in the nut start to come to the surface.  Do not brown too much, otherwise you will have a burnt flavor instead of toasted.

    Copyright © 2013 Tonya L. Mercer All Rights Reserved.
    Copyright © 2013 Tonya L. Mercer All Rights Reserved.

The Spanish name for Kale is Col Rizada – literal translation Curly Cabbage.  The green form of kale is apparently not readily available at least in the area of Peru where our exchange culinary class is located.  They do have white and purple varieties of kale, which are beautiful.  imagesCA2LLE6B imagesCA6NZO2QThese can be substituted for green kale in this recipe.

You also can try other fruits, nuts, and cheese combinations or turn it into an entrée with beef, grilled chicken, shrimp or fish.

Tell me if you love it!


5 thoughts on “Massaged Kale Salad w/ Toasted Pine Nuts, Dried Cranberries & Shaved Parmesan”

  1. Ummm! I was thinking how delicious this would be over breaded chicken breast like the dish at… (I won’t mention the name!)

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