Should You Treat Your Kale to a Massage?

I’ve been on a kale kick lately, spending more time than I ever thought I would in search of good kale recipes that I (the culinarily-challenged) can handle. One thing that keeps popping up is how essential it is to massage kale before serving it. Massage kale?? I imagined taking kale, resting it comfortably on the counter, lighting some scented candles, playing soothing music and kneading the kale until it’s nice and relaxed. Turns out, I wasn’t far off.

Kale has been around forever but has recently become one of hottest, hippest greens on the market. You can use kale the same way you would use any other green. People are cooking it in soups or sauces, blending it into smoothies, sautéing it in stir-fry, baking it into lasagnas or pizza and even sneaking it into burgers.  Some people even enjoy it raw. Personally, I find raw kale to be unappetizing because of its bitter taste and tough texture, but to each his–or her–own.

One of the most popular ways to serve kale is to simply toss it into a salad. But rather than tossing in raw kale, lots of foodies and kale aficionados are first massaging their kale to get rid of the bitter taste. Massaging turns kale from tough and bitter into silky and sweet, and makes it much easier to chew and digest.


Massaging kale is easy to do. Just put bunches of kale, with the fibrous ribs removed, in a bowl and squeeze and rotate it or rub the kale together for a few minutes. Some suggest adding salt and olive oil while massaging. See the photo above (from The Vegan Minimalist) to se what kale looks like before and after it has been massaged. You can still light scented candles and play soothing music while massaging, but that will be more for you than for the kale.

As you massage the kale, you’ll notice the leaves will darken, shrink in size and become silky in texture. The kale’s tough cellulose structure actually breaks down and wilts. You know you’ve massaged the kale enough once it no longer tastes bitter. If it’s still bitter, keep on squeezing and rotating it.

If rubbing your greens is not your thing, you can also change kale’s tough and bitter ways by tossing it in a little olive oil and leaving it to sit overnight.

Once massaged, just add your favorite salad toppings. Toss in other greens for variety. Or throw in bursts of flavor and texture, like in this delicious Pomegranate, Crunchy Walnut and Kale Salad from Masha Zaric, The Vegan Minimalis (

Do You Massage Your Kale? What’s Your Favorite Way to Serve This Super Veggie?

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