Massaged Kale, Quinoa and Roast Tomato Salad

Eat your greens! Beautiful curly kale.

I don’t think I even tried kale until about two years ago. Put off by the mass of dark green curly leaves, I had no clue what it tasted like or how to prepare it. It certainly looked healthy but I told myself it was some kind of hippy vegetable and instead stuck with my very safe broccoli and spinach. Kale is now an über-trendy vegetable gracing restaurant menus and farmers’ markets all over the land. Everyone loves kale – right? Well, it’s certainly ticks all the right nutritional boxes: antioxidants, iron, vitamins A, C, K, calcium and more. The problem is, how to cook it? Raw, fried, boiled or baked?

One recipe that is fabulous and famous in our household since my husband practically choked on it when he first ate it, “This is the best salad I ever had! Please make this all the time!” is a massaged kale salad. Kale has pretty tough leaves that are a little difficult to chew and swallow in their raw state. You have to give them a good massage with olive oil and lemon to make them wilt and become more palatable. I’m shamelessly copying this recipe below from Working Class Foodies with a couple of variations. I’m a frugalista at heart and this salad is super quick and cheap to make. It’s perfect for a week night meal paired with chicken or fish and lasts over several days stored in the fridge (at least in some households). Enjoy!

Kale, Quinoa and Roast Tomato Salad (enjoy hot or cold)


Small tub of cherry or grape tomatoes
1-2 cloves garlic
1 bunch kale (lacinato or curly)
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup red quinoa (you can use white quinoa, this just looks prettier)
1/4 – 1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese (omit if vegan)
1/2 cup roasted sunflower or pumpkin seeds


Preheat oven to 400F. Cut tomatoes in half, place in baking tray lined with aluminum foil, pour over a little olive oil, salt and pepper and pop in the oven for 20-30 minutes until soft. On a separate tray, roast sunflower or pumpkin seeds for about 8-10 minutes until brown.

Rinse the quinoa well to remove the bitter taste. Put quinoa and 1 cup water in saucepan. Cover and bring up to a boil, then simmer until all the water is absorbed and the quinoa is light and fluffy.

Rinse kale and then tear up the leaves into small pieces. Remove stems and use them for compost or stock.

Prepare the salad dressing: crush 1-2 cloves of garlic (depending on taste – we love garlic so I often put in 3 cloves) with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add the lemon juice and whisk all together adding the olive oil gradually. You can also pop everything into a clean jam jar and give it a good shake at this point. Then add in the grated pecorino cheese, lemon zest, salt and pepper.

Now is the time to get your hands dirty! In a large boil, combine the kale with the salad dressing.  Massage/rub the leaves with the dressing and really get stuck in. You’ll notice the leaves start to soften and wilt. Then add the cherry tomatoes and quinoa and mix it all up. Top off the salad with the roasted sunflower or pumpkin seeds.

{Variations} Add different nuts such as walnuts or pine nuts or fruit such as mango or apple. Switch the tomatoes with avocado or roasted red peppers. Change the quinoa to brown rice, couscous or millet.

4 thoughts on “Massaged Kale, Quinoa and Roast Tomato Salad

  1. Thank you, Anneka! I too was baffled by kale when it was recommended to me while I was pregnant. I’ve muddled through sautéed kale and recently made my own baked kale chips (also super easy!), but I love the idea of this yummy massaged salad. I’m trying it this weekend with my farmer’s market bunch of beautiful kale.

  2. Pingback: Kale is for Kool Kids | Whoopsyummy

  3. Pingback: Autumn Kale, Squash & Pomegranate Salad | Hello to Healthy

  4. Pingback: A Beautiful Mother’s Day Brunch Frittata | Mama Loves Healthy

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