Raw Rainbow Kale Salad of the Gods

by Dorothy Reinhold on July 7, 2011

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My new favorite salad is raw kale, which can be a tough sell to some people, but is really easy to love if you treat it right.

Besides deliciousness, a characteristic that trumps all else, it has more nutritional value for fewer calories than almost any other food around. It’s packed with standout nutrients that are antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and anti-cancer.

The trick is to soften the raw kale either one of two ways – either you massage the dressing into the kale by hand for several minutes (fun!), or you take the lazy way out and toss everything together in a bowl and then refrigerate it and let time do the work. It all depends on how soon you want to eat it.

My mother bought some Tuscan kale and asked me what to do with it. In explaining how to treat it, I reinvigorated my interest in kale. My mom raved about the salad she made with it, and I started playing around. This winner was born!

Another plus is this salad holds up very well over time, and begs to be made early. I forgot mine in the refrigerator for 3 days, and it was still wonderful when I pulled it out! The garnishes need to be applied at serving time, though, since basil won’t age well and the nuts will get soggy over time. The rest of it can stand up to the rigors of a rest in the refrig.


Recipe: Raw Rainbow Kale Salad of the Gods

  • Bunch of Lacinato Kale on Shockinglydelicious1 bunch Tuscan Kale (also called lacinato or dinosaur kale)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
  • Pinch sea salt
  • Pinch sugar (or a drizzle of agave)
  • Pinch garlic powder (about 1/8 teaspoon)


  • 1 yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped
  • Chopped Kalamata olives
  • Sliced cherry tomatoes (or seeded regular tomatoes)
  • Craisins, hydrated in hot water
  • Sliced mushrooms


  • Toasted pine nuts
  • Fresh basil cut into chiffonade

Wash, dry and cut the kale into very thin strips (think chiffonade); place in a large mixing bowl. Toss in oil, lemon juice, salt, sugar and garlic powder.

Massage method: If using the massage method, make sure your hands are squeaky clean (you should have done this before you began cooking anyway, right?) and roll up your sleeves. Using your bare hands, massage the kale by tossing it and rubbing it with your fingers until you feel it soften and you can see it wilt. This will take several minutes. Add your choice of add-ins, and toss to combine. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until serving time. When ready to serve, top with either or both garnishes.

Time method: As above, place kale and dressing ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add any or all of the add-ins, and stir to combine. Place in a covered container and refrigerate at least 24 hours (or 72 hours if you forget it like I did). When ready to serve, plate it and garnish with either or both of the garnishes.

Serves 4-6.


  • Sprinkle with ricotta salata or feta crumbles
  • Add grilled chicken chopped into bite-size pieces
  • Stir in a rinsed, drained can of cannellini beans

Source: Inspired by my mother, Helen Reinhold

Raw Rainbow Kale Salad of the Gods

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Vicki Bauer March 18, 2015 at 2:37 pm

Massage or chiffonade. Why not just tear the kale and drop it in boiling water for a few seconds to soften/wilt it, then immediately place in ice water to re-crisp? Would that work? I don’t use kale but I want to start. It just makes sense to wilt and crisp with water: boiling and iced. However, as my husband likes to say, I was wrong once. 😉


Dorothy Reinhold March 18, 2015 at 5:05 pm

Ha! I like your husband, sight unseen! You can certainly do that with the kale, it won’t hurt it and might help speed it along. HOWEVER, I am a big believer in the fewer pots, the better. So boiling a separate pot of water for the kale is just one more pot for me to wash. That said, you can get kale to submit in several different ways — applying heat (wilting in pan or boiling), massaging, cutting it finely and applying an acidic dressing and letting time handle the matter. Your choice!


Liz November 21, 2013 at 8:05 am

Thank you – healthy recipe.


Jeanne @JollyTomato January 19, 2012 at 10:42 am

Hi Dorothy: Just wanted you to know that you are my raw kale salad guru! I just linked to your post in my Meyer lemon story here: http://bit.ly/xmyjVX


Dorothy January 19, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Thanks, and how fun! I love being a raw kale salad guru! I just now posted my latest raw kale salad, and I think you’ll like it. Go here: https://www.shockinglydelicious.com/raw-kale-salad-with-avocado-and-blood-orange/


The Sunday Dinner Revival July 11, 2011 at 11:26 am

All hail kale! I’m always grateful to add another delicious raw kale recipe to my table. Thanks for another winner Dorothy : )


nena July 7, 2011 at 12:32 pm

I am so lucky, I have all these ingredients….who would have thought?!?


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