Massaged Kale Salad Recipe

By Marcus Samuelsson |

A side of sautéed greens is an easy, elegant classic. But when I made them last week, I regretted it. Unfortunately, even one burner on the stove quickly heats up my small apartment more than one measly window unit can handle.

I turn to a vegetable that wilts beautifully without heat—the one and only, superfood kale. Massaged kale isn’t cooked, per se, but the dressing is worked into the leaves, taking on both the flavor and a softer texture.

How long the kale is massaged controls the softness—most massaged kale salads call for five minutes or less of massaging. Personally, I like my kale a lot softer, massaged for fifteen or more. Tahini adds an undeniable rich, nutty flavor and creamy texture that elevates this side to a memorable (not to mention addictive) dish. The antioxidant-packed pomegranate seeds brighten up the flavor profile, as do the mint and lemon juice.

For more sides of greens, see these recipes:

Healthy Spring Sautee of Overwintered Spinach, Leeks and Carrots

Braised Collard Greens with Masala Caramelized Onions

Quinoa & Greens

Grilled Treviso with Watercress and Creamy Blue Cheese

Prep Details

Servings: 4 small or 2 large


6 oz. kale, chopped and rinsed, stems removed

1 tbsp. tahini

1 large lemon, or two small

1 tsp. olive oil

1 cucumber, chopped

1/2 cup chopped sweet onion

2 sprigs mint, chopped finely

1/4 cup pomegranate seeds, divided

Crumbled feta

Salt and pepper


1. In a large bowl, juice the lemon(s) over the chopped kale. Add ½ tsp. salt, 1 tsp. olive oil, and 1 Tbsp. tahini.

2. With your hands, massage the mixture until the ingredients are evenly distributed around the kale leaves. (Think of massaging like kneading dough; use your hands to repeatedly squeeze and toss the kale.)

3. After five minutes, taste a piece of kale. If you'd like it softer, continue massaging for a few more minutes, and repeat. Add another squeeze of lemon and sprinkling of salt to speed up the process.

4. When the kale is as soft as you'd like it, taste, and season with salt and pepper. Mix in the mint, cucumber, onion, and half the pomegranate seeds.

5. Garnish with remaining pomegranate seeds and crumbled feta.