{Decompress your Kale} A Massaged Kale Salad with Peaches, Tomatoes, and Basil – 3 ways)

Kale does so much for you.  This nutritional powerhouse is an alphabet soup of nutrients and one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet: Vitamins A, B6, C, and K, plus calcium, fiber, iron, magnesium, and potassium.  It is rich in Vitamin K, an antioxidant that can reduce the overall risk of developing or dying from cancer.  However, kale needs to be cooked for you to receive its full benefits.  How uptight.

Massaging kale with vinegar helps it relax and make those nutrients available to you. I literally mean massage, like get your hands in there and knead for several minutes.  The acidity of the dressing and the friction of your fingers break down the fibers of the kale, making it go from tough to supple.  Quicker than cooking, and a lot more fun.  But it still maintains a heft that makes for a very filling salad, and its dark green color is a great background to create a beautiful, colorful salad.  Give this fast and easy recipe a try for a massaged kale salad that is full of summertime flavors.

Massaged Kale Salad with Peaches, Tomatoes, and Basil – 3 ways

Flipping through Whole Living, I came across a page of ideas for using peaches in various recipes.  An open-faced sandwich of ricotta, peaches, tomatoes, and basil got its hooks in me.  It sounded amazing; I could imagine each bite tasting like summer.  I seriously thought about this for days (it also helped that I was in Rwanda and let’s just say I’m not there for the food).  My daily reverie of this sandwich soon turned to salad, which is more my style.  The astringent taste, deep green color and chewy texture of a massaged kale and the sweet acidity of balsamic vinegar seemed like a natural complement to the summertime flavors of fresh peaches, tomato, and basil. The ricotta changed to goat cheese.  A sprinkling of sunflower seeds for crunch.  A new salad was born.

I tried this salad three different ways, and all were delicious.  Believe it or not, you actually can’t tell that much of a difference between the three fats (goat cheese, tahini, and avocado).  In take two of this salad, I added fresh mint because I had some on hand. The salad is good without the mint, but great with it – so if you have it, use it.  Adding the tomatoes to the kale rubdown releases their juices, which combine with the balsamic vinegar and the goat cheese/tahini/avocado to create a natural dressing without any added oil.  The peaches add a nice burst of sweetness and a beautiful color.  This salad is fancy without trying to hard.

Massaged Kale Salad with Peaches, Tomatoes, and Basil

This salad would pair nicely with a thin-crust pizza and a glass of red wine.

For a printable version of the recipe, click here.

Serves 2 as a side or 1 meal-sized salad

4-5 stalks lacinato (aka dinosaur) kale, finely chopped into ribbons (remove the spine if tough)

1/4 cup basil, chopped

1/8-1/4 cup mint, chopped (optional)

1/2 cup tomatoes, chopped

1.5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/2 peach, chopped

1 tablespoon goat cheese OR 1 tablespoon tahini OR 1/4 avocado

pickled red onions or raw red onion, sliced (see note)

1 tablespoon raw or toasted sunflower seeds

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine the kale, basil, tomatoes, and balsamic vinegar in a bowl*, and massage with your hands for several minutes, until the kale breaks down and becomes supple.  Add the rest of the ingredients, toss and serve.  Salt and pepper to taste.  It’s good to let the flavors marinate for 5 minutes.

* If using tahini or avocado, add prior to the massage; if using goat cheese, add after the rub-down.

Note: I used some homemade pickled onions.  If you don’t have any on hand (why would you?), and have a hard time digesting raw red onion, either omit them or create a quick pickle.  Mix sliced raw red onion with some vinegar, and let sit while you prepare the rest of the salad (or longer – even overnight.  The longer it sits, the more the vinegar will break down the onion).  Drain and add to your salad.


13 thoughts on “{Decompress your Kale} A Massaged Kale Salad with Peaches, Tomatoes, and Basil – 3 ways)

  1. yum! and gorgeous photos. i love how often we are on the same food wavelength… i made a salad a lot like this the other day. i added some cubed smoked tofu to make it a full meal.

  2. Hi Martine! I’ve been meaning to massage some kale… never tried it. I massaged the heck out of it I tell you! One question – if you add the avo and tomatoes prior to the massage, the get annihilated, yes? Mine were pretty much gone by the time I was done. Still tasty, though! Didn’t have a peach so I used a plum. Came out nicely. I also added some GF smoked tofu as Rachel did. (had some that needed to get eaten.) Thanks for the recipe!

    • Glad you liked it Elise! Yes, the tomatoes and avocado get a bit roughed up, but that’s what creates the dressing. If you use cherry tomatoes, they stand up to the abuse a bit better than other varieties. You could also reserve some tomatoes to add to the salad after you’ve massaged the kale.

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