The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

This lemon and kale salad recipe will make you love salad

This kale salad rivals a Roots bowl

<p>This salad is the perfect dish to bring to potlucks, make for your friends or even eat alone in your house. &nbsp;</p>

This salad is the perfect dish to bring to potlucks, make for your friends or even eat alone in your house.  

My uncle Jeff’s friend and gardening buddy, Miles, taught him the most amazing kale salad recipe. Every time my family visited Uncle Jeff, we looked forward to making and eating this salad. My dad learned the recipe on one of our trips to Jeff’s house, and we’ve been making it for every family dinner and get-together since.

This salad is so delicious — it doesn’t even taste “healthy.” I’ve been enjoying this recipe for years before I even knew what Roots was and how amazing their salads are. I finally learned how to make it by myself about two years ago. 

I make this for my roommates and friends all the time. This salad is the perfect dish to bring to potlucks, make for your friends or even eat alone in your house. It’s easy, fast to prepare and each bite adds a tangy flavor from the lemon.


  • One bushel or bag of kale
  • Half of a small red onion
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Two lemons


  1. Start by rinsing your kale. Even if you buy organic, pre-washed kale, I recommend rinsing it and checking for any dead leaves or mischievous bugs. Once the kale is rinsed, pull the leaves from the stems and pat the kale dry with a paper towel. This step is optional, but it allows the olive oil to stick to the leaves better and makes the salad less soggy.
  2. After you dry the leaves, slice them into roughly inch-wide pieces. Chopping the kale can be quite a laborious process, but it makes the texture of the salad so much better.
  3. Toss all the chopped kale into a large salad or mixing bowl. It may seem like too much kale, but it will shrink down once it is dressed and massaged. To the chopped kale mixture, add five tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and massage it well. Massaging the kale is important because it helps break down the tough structure of the leaves and make the texture and flavor gentler and more appealing to your palate.
  4. Once the kale has lost some of its volume, squeeze the juice of one lemon into the bowl. I like squeezing the lemon through a coffee filter to keep the seeds and pulp from the salad. If you don’t have a coffee filter or strainer, you can also squeeze the juice into your hand, and let it run through your fingers for the same effect. 
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste and massage the salad again. This time you’ll see an even better texture as the lemon causes the kale to break down even more. Once you feel a slick texture on the leaves of the kale and see about a third less kale than you started with, you can stop massaging.
  6. To top it off, dice half of a small red onion into pieces about the size of your thumbnail and stir it into the salad. 

As an optional addition, feel free to add some protein. I picked up some cold grilled chicken breast from Trader Joe’s and heated it on medium heat in a saucepan with some olive oil and lemon juice. I sliced the chicken into bite-sized pieces and added them onto my salad. 

This salad would be a great base to play around with and easy to spice up with some other flavors. I suggest adding chopped cherry tomatoes, nuts or cranberries. Adding some brown rice or quinoa could also make this salad seem more like a filling Roots bowl and less like an appetizer. 

This salad keeps well in the fridge for a few days, but it’s also easy to eat all at once. If you do store the leftovers in a fridge, I recommend keeping it in a big salad bowl and covering the top with tin foil or plastic wrap. The recipe makes more than enough for one person, especially with a filling topping like chicken. 

Enjoy this easy, healthy and family favorite recipe!