Lemon Kale Salad

I love kale. It’s slightly ridiculous how much I love it. I particularly love it with Whole Food’s tahini garlic dressing, but Alex (who I’ve yet to formally introduce here on the blog, but get used to the name) wasn’t a huge fan of how garlicky it was. To be fair, garlic is the second ingredient after water. It’s potent stuff. So maybe he had a point. And maybe it’s good for me to get out of my kale salad addiction.

Just kidding. I’ll never give up kale salad. I’ll just find a new dressing for it.

I liked the lemon flavor of the tahini dressing, and I loved the pine nuts that Ellwood Thompson’s puts on their kale salad. So I knew I wanted to use both of those. I also knew that avocado makes basically anything better, so I tossed in some of that as well. To finish it off, I added in some cheese, because you can’t go wrong with cheese. (Unless you’re a vegan… in that case, just leave it off and add a little salt to balance things out.)

Let’s talk about massaging for a second. I know it’s a little awkward to get so intimate with your kale, but please don’t skip this step. It’s super important because kale is an intense green. It’s tough. And it will be tough unless you really massage it. So get your hands covered in kale and massage the dressing for at least 5 minutes. Even better, let it sit for about an hour before serving. It’ll help the kale wilt a little bit.

lemon kale salad

Lemon Kale Salad
Prep time
Total time
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 2
  • 4 cups raw kale
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ lemon
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • ¼ cup shredded parmesan romano cheese
  1. Wash and tear your kale into small pieces and let sit.
  2. Mash up one avocado and mix with olive oil.
  3. Squeeze the juice from ½ lemon into the avocado and olive oil paste.
  4. Pour the mixture over the kale and massage until the kale starts to wilt slightly.
  5. Top with pine nuts and shredded cheese just before serving.
  6. It's best to let it sit for an hour or so, so that the kale continues to soften. Trust me, it's way easier to eat that way.

This lemon kale salad recipe is so easy, and even garlic haters will enjoy this. Just kidding, he doesn’t really hate garlic. I hope.

As if you needed even more of a reason to try kale, let me tell you it’s super good for you. It’s one of the best dark leafy greens for you, and everyone knows that dark leafy greens are where it’s at. Just trust me. But do not skip that massaging step. I’m telling you, it’s crucial.

This lemon kale salad doesn’t totally fall into the Tone It Up plan, but it’s pretty good, so I’m sure it’ll be making some appearances soon!

Craving more kale? Try these!

parmesan kale salad

Lacinato Kale Salad

apple walnut kale salad with parmesan

Apple Walnut Kale Salad

Do you like kale?


  1. Can’t wait to hear about the mystery fella πŸ˜‰
    Salad looks delicious enough for me to try Kale for the first time raw!

  2. I have literally only tried kale once. And it was in a soup. So I don’t think I can honestly give my opinion. I did pin this recipe, though, so who knows–maybe I’ll get motivated to give it a try one of these days.

  3. I love kale! This salad looks delish

  4. I was sort of intimated to try kale for a long time, but now that I’ve experimented with it a little, I love it, especially kale chips!

  5. Get intimate with your kale <— haha just this, love it! I've been on SUCH a kale kick recently too, don't know what it is about it but I want it all the time haha. Have you had the kale salad at Helen's before? Omg it's the best one I've ever had I'm pretty sure! Love this recipe too, bookmarked! I've never made kale salad on my own, 'bout time πŸ˜‰

  6. mmmm I have kale in my fridge right now.. kale salad for lunch I’m thinkin! Also, I lol’d at getting “awkward” with your kale

  7. The amount I like kale is ridiculous too, I loled about the awkward comment and getting intimidate with kale. It’s pretty much my favorite vegetable and the easiest to cook with. I could eat it for multiple meals LOL. Well with other food of course.

  8. I have been wanting to cook with kale for awhile now, but have not been quite sure about how to approach it. This sounds really delicious and SUPER easy to make. Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

  9. This looks delightful! I bet my husband would eat this, because like Alex, he thinks the garlic kale at Whole Foods is too much. I am, however, absolutely addicted to Garlic Kale specifically because I am obsessed with garlic. Do they sell that garlic dressing by itself? I must research this in more detail……I will be making this recipe and perhaps adding garlic to it πŸ™‚

  10. I LOVE kale! In fact, I made a massaged kale salad last night that I’m going to post about this week. Very simple–yet so satisfying and delicious (not to mention, good for you, too!).

  11. Wait–some people complain about things being too garlicky? Haha, pretty sure I wouldn’t hesitate to chow down on a garlic clove wrapped in a kale leaf. In fact…that sounds kinda good. I do love my kale–and yet I’ve somehow never massaged it! I feel like I’m missing out on an important and intimate experience with kale πŸ˜‰

  12. You KNOW that tahini dressing is my jam. [Could we turn it into actual jam?] But heck yes, it definitely requires a mint or some gum afterwards. When I have made it for myself, the only way I can really handle it is to use roasted garlic…as raw garlic is WAY too potent in the proportions I have been trying. That being said, you are totally on my wavelength, because I did try to turn the tahini garlicky yumminess into an avocado based dressing at one point. Maybe I’ll have to go back and reexamine that idea…

  13. i have been sneaking kale into soups , lasagna and stir fries. I go through phases between spinach and kale. I have yet to try it as a salad though and tahini is always such a delight πŸ™‚

    • I love spinach in my smoothies and on pizza, but I’m not a huge fan of spinach salads for some reason. Kale is my go-to salad green!

  14. oooo, exited to hear about the new friend in your life πŸ™‚

    I’m embarassed to admit that I have yet to try kale, this recipe has inspired me to at least try it though!

  15. YES! i am so glad you posted this recipe! One of my favorite restaurants, True Food Kitchens makes a VERY similar salad (I think) but I excited to give this one a spin!

  16. I used to only eat spinach but I am opening up to kale more and more these days. I love recipes like this because then I dont have to THINK about what to pair it with πŸ™‚ I also love roasted pine nuts, especially on salads! Ill have to keep this in mind!

  17. The salad looks great! I use kale alot, but mostly for juice. I need to eat more salads with it!

  18. So that dressing that has too much garlic sounds right up my alley. Like really. I need to go find it. ASAP.
    And Im a big fan of Kale salads too, but Ive got to wait till summer. My body isnt ready for salads yet!!

  19. Ok, I know I’ve said it before, but I REALLY need to try kale. The thing that has been holding me back for all of these years is my memory of working with it at Edible Arrangements. It’s used to cover the openings of the containers and after working 15 hour shifts looking at kale, I have a strange aversion to it. But anyway, that salad looks gorgeous and is definitely inspiring me to give it a try! πŸ™‚

  20. Fantastic salad Liz! I’m with you – I HEART kale! This dressing sounds wicked too – pinned!

  21. This looks delicious Liz. I love kale!! πŸ™‚

  22. “I know it’s a little awkward to get so intimate with your kale” <- Bahaha! love it! And I totally agree…ABSOLUTELY necessary to "wine and dine" your kale before "enjoying" it! πŸ˜‰

    I love kale, but I always forget just HOW MUCH I love it until I have it again! I really need to eat it more often. And I really need to try this combo! The pine nuts with the avocado AND the parmesan? Sounds amazing!

  23. Just had the raw kale salad with onions, tomatoes, pine nuts and black olives. Was my first adventure with raw kale. Loved it. Do you think a lemon and olive oil dressing would work with this combination?


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