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Massaged Kale Salad with Dried Cranberries and Country Ham

Venn Crawford

I know that kale has spent some time as a fad food, but I have to admit that I’m sold on it. I’m not crazy about kale by itself, as it tends to be a bit bitter, but this massaged kale salad is incredible. You can make it with any kind of kale, but my favorites are the deeper green varieties, such as Tuscan kale.

Massaged kale salad unsurprisingly starts out with kale. Make sure to rinse it well. Tear the leaves off the stems and break them into small pieces, setting them aside in a bowl. Add the lemon juice and salt, and massage the kale as if you’re kneading bread. As you massage it, the kale should start to break down and become darker in color. Depending on your hand strength, this can take several minutes.

Once the kale has been massaged with the lemon juice, drizzle it with a bit of olive oil and massage for another minute. You don’t want to add too much olive oil here, though. If it creates a noticeable pool in the bottom of the bowl, it’s too much.

Next, we toss the massaged kale with a bit of maple syrup. The syrup adds some sweetness to the kale, cutting its bitterness. The amount of maple syrup really depends on your personal preferences and how sweet you want your salad. If you’re not sure how much to put, err on the side of less – you can always add more.

Now that the salad base is ready, it’s time to get your other ingredients ready. With the oven at 375F, toast your pine nuts for 5 – 10 minutes (until golden-brown) on a small cookie sheet lined with tinfoil. While the pine nuts are toasting, cut your country ham into thin slices. Saute the ham on a skillet over medium-high heat, turning the slices occasionally so all sides get equally browned. The salty, meaty ham balances the sweetness of the maple syrup and cranberries, giving the salad a more complex flavor. Don’t cook the ham for too long – once it starts to brown, it’s ready. Overcooking the ham will make it dry and chewy.

Add your ham slices, pine nuts, fresh ground pepper, cranberries, grated parmesan, and red onion. Toss until all ingredients are mixed. Enjoy!

This salad is excellent as a snack, light lunch, or a first course for dinner.

kale (use as much as you need for how much salad you want)
Juice of ½ lemon
1 ½ tsp salt
Olive oil
Maple syrup
Fresh ground pepper
Dried sweetened cranberries
Red onion as desired
1/3 cup grated parmesan
Pine nuts, toasted
Country ham

  1. Rinse kale. Remove leaves from stems and tear into small pieces. Place the kale in a bowl with lemon juice and salt. Massage the kale (as if kneading bread) until darker in color, about 5 minutes.
  2. Drizzle with olive oil and massage for another minute. Toss with maple syrup.
  3. Heat oven to 375F, toast pine nut for 5 – 10 minutes or until golden brown.
  4. While pine nuts cook, saute country ham on a skillet over medium-high heat. Turn the pieces occasionally until all sides are equally browned.
  5. Add ham, pine nuts, fresh ground pepper, dried cranberries, grated parmesan, and red onion. Toss until mixed.

This blog was updated 4/9/18. 

by Venn Crawford

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