Why You Should Always Massage Kale Salad

Of all the leafy greens, kale is one of the toughest to chew. And yet, this fibrous leaf has managed to insert itself into every possible health bowl, salad, and smoothie recipe we might come across. While it may seem unnecessary, this addition of kale isn't done in vain. Kale exceeds other leafy greens in vitamins A, C, and K content, and it is said to have a plethora of antioxidants that may reduce the risk of cancer, per U.S. News Health. However, not everyone is a fan of kale, and some would probably opt for softer greens that may not have as much fiber like arugula (via Made in Nature). But are we willing to sacrifice our taste and texture preferences for its health benefits?

There are a number of ways to make kale more edible: You can steam, fry, bake, and boil it to soften its rugged texture. But what about using kale as a salad base? If the idea of chowing down on a mountain of kale seems like an unpleasant experience, you should consider massaging your kale.

A kale salad you'll want to eat

So what are we to do about this superfood's stiff texture? Well, we must massage it for our salad. According to Healthline, cooking kale makes it more palatable because it reduces its naturally bitter and sulfuric flavor profile. However, for a fresh kale salad, the only way to make kale softer in its raw form is to massage it with your hands. The first step in this process is to remove the tough stems of the kale; these will never soften with a simple massage, but they can be saved for other dishes.

After removing the hard stems, chopping your kale into thin slivers can make it more manageable. Foolproof Living notes that a drizzle of oil helps tenderize the leaves, breaking down the fibrous plant wall of this vegetable as you massage it. With an added drop of acid in the form of vinegar or lemon juice, you'll quicken the softening process by breaking down the cellulose component in the kale (via The Lemon Bowl). The result of a massaged kale is a softer leaf reminiscent of spinach or red lettuce. Sure, even massaged kale will not be as crunchy and light as iceberg lettuce, but it will be easier to eat and perhaps even preferable to other greens. Minimalist Baker suggests that, before you massage your kale, you should make sure it isn't lacinato kale (otherwise known as dinosaur or Tuscan kale) because this is a more tender type of kale that would turn soggy if massaged. Similarly, baby kale should be avoided too.