Massaged Kale Salad with Dried Cranberries, Pistachios, and Kumquats


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves

    6 to 8

    (this salad easily feeds a crowd, but if you are the fiends for greens as we are, the recipe makes 4 generous servings)

Appears in

At our house, we eat kale every which way and have devoted an entire bed of our backyard garden to growing these super greens. We toss leaves into soups, add them to frittatas, crisp them in the oven, and more often than not we simply steam up mounds of greens and drizzle on a little olive oil and nice sea salt.

In this recipe, kale steals the show in an entirely different way. Massaging the raw leaves breaks down the fibers until the hearty greens become tender, glistening, and luscious, like seaweed. It’s hard to believe this texture transformation until you try it for yourself. The massaged kale really shines when you add some tasty cohorts to the mix: Crunchy pistachios and sweet dried cranberries, along with citrus and a hint of maple syrup, make for a kale lover’s delight.


  • cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • ¼–½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 large bunches kale (8–9 packed cups), fully dried after washing
  • 8–10 kumquats, thinly sliced into rounds (if you can’t find kumquats, substitute 1 or 2 tangerines, peeled and sliced, plus an extra squeeze of lemon juice)
  • cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • cup chopped roasted salted pistachios


In a very large salad bowl, whisk the oil, lemon juice, maple syrup, and ¼ teaspoon of the sea salt.

Discard the tough ribs of your kale. Lay the leaves on top of each other, roll them up like a cigar, and chop widthwise into thin strips, a rough chiffonade. Add the leaves to the salad bowl, then use your hands to massage the dressing into the kale. After 3 to 5 minutes of massaging, the fibers will break down and the leaves will feel like silky seaweed. (If any tough rib pieces emerge during this process, toss them out. We only want the tender leaves.)

Toss the massaged kale with the kumquat slices, dried cranberries, and pistachios. Add additional salt and lemon juice to taste.