kale and brussels sprout salad, aka the power of massage


You may have noticed — there are people who claim kale is their spirit animal, and then there are people who just don’t understand the hoopla. (These people say things like, “Yeah, well, mustard greens have more [insert obscure vitamin] than kale.”)

To those people I say, listen: kale is and forever will be one of the great superfoods. Its micronutrient power is undeniable.

I think my perspective is probably quite evident. So evident, in fact, that my boyfriend’s wonderful mother got me this shirt, which is officially the best thing ever (I mean, Beyonce has one just like it):

Just like Beyonce

I will agree, however, that it is not the most user-friendly member of the dark leafy green family. When I first started cooking 3 meals a day for myself, I did kale all wrong. It was always coarse and dry, and dressing just sat inharmoniously on top of it.

Now I know, I wasn’t treating the kale right: I didn’t remove the ribs, for one, and also didn’t massage it — big mistake.

What I’ve learned since then is that kale will do whatever you want it to do, as long as you give it a good rub-down. It will become stuffing, chips, or my favorite, this salad.

This salad was one of the first things my boyfriend ever cooked for me, so it holds a very special place in my heart. He did everything perfectly — toasted and salted the almonds to perfection, made sure the balance of the dressing was perfect, and gave that kale the best massage of its life… There’s just something magical about a guy who can make a kale salad. This salad, in particular, requires care, attentiveness, and patience — all skills that also come in handy in relationships. #justsayin

Toasty goodness

I like to experiment with my salads, but this is basically the only kale salad I’ll ever make. Once you try this salad, you’ll understand why. It’s wonderful because it actually gets better the longer it sits — kale, unlike other greens, actually improves after a few days of sitting in dressing.

I like to make a huge bowl of this salad, pack it into a couple Pyrexes, and eat it for lunch for several days. Add some grilled chicken or shrimp and it’s a complete meal. It’s also a great make-ahead potluck/dinner party contribution, because it can be made totally in advance and is very no-fuss. Enjoy!


  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup+ evoo
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 cups shaved Brussels sprouts (Trader Joe’s sells a 10 oz. bag)
  • 4 cups kale, ribs removed, chopped
  • 3/4 cup raw almonds
  • sea salt


  1. Make your dressing: Whisk lemon juice, dijon, 1/2 cup evoo, and minced shallot and garlic in a small bowl or Ball jar. Set in fridge to allow flavors to combine.
  2. Prep your kale: Remove all ribs, and chop your kale until it’s in manageable, bite-sized pieces. You know what you like. Place in a big mixing bowl and toss with the shaved Brussels sprouts.
  3. Toast your almonds: In a small skillet, heat 1 tbsp. of evoo over medium heat. Add the almonds, moving them around and toasting them until they are deep brown and fragrant. Don’t burn them. Do this with love. When they are nicely toasted, remove the skillet from the heat and toss in a healthy sprinkle of salt. Toss the almonds around in the salt to coat them. Set aside to cool.
  4. Taste your dressing: Add salt and pepper as needed.
  5. Pour your dressing all over the kale/Brussels mixture. Remove all jewelry/watches, etc. Roll up your sleeves and give that salad a deep tissue massage. It deserves it. You deserve a well-massaged kale. Spend at least 4 minutes doing this.
  6. Lay the almonds out on a cutting board and give them a rough chop. I usually chop my almonds into rough thirds, so that their integrity is intact but it doesn’t feel like you’re eating trail mix. You know what you like.
  7. Add the almonds and parmesan to the salad and toss it all together. For best results, let this sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving, so all the flavors meld together into a beautiful symphony. Enjoy. 


What are your favorite kale recipes? What kind of recipes would you like to see here? Share your thoughts, hopes, tips, passions, and dreams in the comment box below — and don’t forget to subscribe to receive emails when I post new recipes! ❤

2 thoughts on “kale and brussels sprout salad, aka the power of massage

  1. Maja-how small do you chop your kale? I usually cut mine into 1/4-1/2″ wide strips. Also, I’m wondering about “baby kale”(have seen bags of it at Trader Joes I think). Does that stuff need to be massaged too?


    1. Mira! Great questions. I usually cut mine into thin strips as well — usually I grab a bunch, roll it up so it’s easier to cut, and then chop into 1/2″ strips. In my experience, baby kale behaves more like other greens (spring mix, spinach), in that it wilts and bruises when massaged. For this recipe, I would recommend the big bag of “grown up”, conventionally-grown kale that Trader Joe’s sells. The organic Tuscan kale works as well, but I think I prefer the bite of the conventional one for this salad.


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