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Kale is one of those foods that people seem to either love or steer clear of, but even if you’re not a kale fan, you need to give this baby kale salad recipe a chance. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. This baby kale avocado salad with lemon garlic vinaigrette and parmesan is much more mild than most kale salad recipes.
If you’re not sure whether you like kale – or are already pretty sure that you don’t – this baby kale and avocado salad is for you! And with only 5 minutes of prep time, you can’t go wrong.
When I make this baby kale salad recipe for a gathering with friends, it always does well. Perhaps that is because the lemon garlic vinaigrette mellows out the strong taste of the kale and provides a fabulous flavor contrast.
The acidic dressing, crunchy pine nuts, creamy avocado, and smoky parmesan combine for a variety of flavors that make this kale salad with avocado a perfect choice.
Why Baby Kale for Kale Avocado Salad?
There are so many types of kale out there. There’s curly kale, red kale, Tuscan kale (also known as Dino kale), and many more. So why baby kale for this kale avocado salad?
They all have rather robust flavors that can seem overpowering to some palates. However, baby kale is different and many people can enjoy its gentle flavor.
Baby kale refers to the leaves of an immature kale plant, picked early in its growth. Because it’s so young, it’s flavor is less intense.
This more mild flavor resembles the slightly peppery taste of arugula and is perfect for salads. Combined with a lemon dressing and quick massage, the leaves take on a milder taste that has a more universal appeal. So, be sure to give this baby kale salad recipe a chance!
If you’re on the fence about raw kale or are afraid of its bitterness, this baby kale recipe you want to start with. Not only is baby kale easier to handle, the special massaging technique I’m going to share with you will address any lingering concern you might have about kale’s natural bitterness.
Do You Have To Massage Baby Kale?
Some people skip massaging baby kale, because the immature leaves are already softer and more tender than mature kale leaves.
You can skip it if you like, but I find that massaging makes this baby kale salad even better.
How To Make Baby Kale Salad with Avocado
While this kale avocado salad with lemon parmesan dressing seems like a fancy meal, it actually comes together in just 5 minutes. It’s so easy that you can prepare it at the last minute, which makes it a great recipe to have handy.
- Place the baby kale leaves into a large bowl. Since baby kale already comes in individual leaves, there’s no chopping required. Just throw it in a bowl and set it to the side to make your lemon vinaigrette dressing.
- Make the lemon vinaigrette. Either shake together the olive oil, lemon juice, and spices in an airtight container, or whisk them well in a bowl.
- Massage the kale with dressing. More on how to do this below!
- Garnish your raw kale salad with avocado, parmesan and pine nuts.
Seriously, this is the easiest kale avocado salad recipe, plus the baby kale makes it much more approachable than most.
Tips For The Best Baby Kale Avocado Salad
Make it fresh
This baby kale salad with avocado is best served right after preparation.
Baby kale wilts and avocado browns, so you really don’t want to make it in advance. If you are pressed for time and really must do some prep in advance, make the dressing ahead of time but don’t add it to the salad until it’s ready to serve.
Choose the right type of kale
As mentioned earlier, there are actually many types of kale you can use. This massaged kale avocado salad can actually be made with any kind of kale you like. Baby kale and curly kale are the most popular options.
I prefer to use baby kale for this avocado kale salad, which is much more tender and less bitter than mature kale but has similar nutrition content. But, you really can use any kind you’re growing in your garden or have in your fridge.
Massage the kale
Yes, you are actually going to massage the kale. If you’re new to kale, this might sound funny. Here is how to massage baby kale:
- Toss the kale with an oil-based, acidic dressing.
- Pick up a bunch and squeeze it.
- Repeat until the kalebegins to soften.
This process helps break down the cell walls and reduces the bitterness that some people associate with kale. It feels strange, but really gives your avocado kale salad an overall more pleasant flavor.
The most common greens that jump to mind when people think of making a kale and avocado salad is curly kale. If you use this variety, you may need to massage it a little longer.
While the massaging step is especially important with the more bitter mature kale like curly kale, I found that it helped improve the taste of baby kale, too. Just don’t overdo it if you’re using baby kale; it’s already more tender to begin with.
It’s not a long process, but it does go more quickly with baby kale and takes longer with varieties of fully matured kale leaves.
TIP: You’ll know you’re done massaging when the leaves are just starting to wilt.
The best dressing for massaging kale salad is one that has an acid (like lemon juice) with the oil and salt in it, so that it can help the breakdown process. The one in this recipe has both!
How to make adjustments for allergies
Of course, if you have any food allergies, you can adjust the recipe. You can eliminate the pine nuts altogether or replace them with your favorite type of seeds to keep that crunch element.
If you’re dairy-free or paleo, simply leave out the parmesan.
What To Serve With Baby Kale Salad
For a complete meal, this baby kale salad recipe with avocado pairs beautifully alongside:
Or browse my other low carb dinner recipes for more ideas.
Tools To Make Keto Kale Avocado Salad
Tap the links below to see the items used to make this recipe.
- Whisk – This set of utensils has a couple different size whisks that would be perfect for making the dressing for this low carb salad recipe.
- Cheese Grater – Grating your Parmesan cheese is a breeze with this grater.
- Large Bowl – These bowls are always my favorites to use in the kitchen. Use the large one to serve this salad.
Baby Kale Avocado Salad Recipe w/ Lemon Garlic Vinaigrette & Parmesan
Baby Kale Avocado Salad Recipe with Lemon Garlic Vinaigrette & Parmesan
Learn how to make massaged baby kale salad! This easy baby kale avocado salad recipe with lemon garlic vinaigrette & parmesan will change how you see kale.
Tap underlined ingredients to see where to get them. Please turn Safari reader mode OFF to view ingredients.
Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
Place the chopped kale into a large bowl. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, sea salt, and black pepper, until a dressing forms. (Alternatively, place dressing ingredients into an airtight container and shake vigorously.)
Pour the dressing over the kale leaves and toss to coat. Use your hands to massage the dressing into the leaves for a minute or two (pick up a bunch, squeeze, and repeat). Do this until the kale softens and begins to wilt. (It will happen fast with baby kale, and takes a little longer with regular kale.)
Add the parmesan cheese, chopped avocado, and toasted pine nuts. Toss again.
Last Step: Leave A Rating!
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Serving size: 1/6 of entire recipe
Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.
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This was a delicious salad.
I wouldn’t usually eat this combo of veggies and dressing but this is delicious! So glad I tried it!
This was incredibly easy and delicious! I was wondering what you might suggest substituting for the Parm cheese. I want to make this for company but someone has a dairy allergy.
Wholesome Yum D0
Hi Cindy, Omit the cheese or you could use vegan parmesan cheese.
Whenever I hear someone say that, they hate kale, I make this salad and have that person try it. Never once, has someone said they hate kale afterwards. Lol
Hi! This looks delicious! Would this keep in the fridge for a day or two (maybe minus the avocado)? Thanks!
Wholesome Yum M0
Hi Crystal, Absolutely!
This may be my new favorite salad. So delicious & easy to throw together. Had to swap slivered almonds for the pine nuts, but no biggie! This is definitely in rotation now.
My new favorite salad recipe!
Irene Dela Cruz0
Thank you for sharing some of your recipes
I’m making now a avocado salad with kale and egg..thanks..have a great day
This recipe is excellent. Love how you pair recipes together. Your plan is wonderful. Thank you!
Left out the pine nuts because I’m not a fan of them and added a little more lemon juice to the dressing. I absolutely love it and it’s my new fav!! Thank you for the awesome recipe.
Maya | Wholesome Yum0
I am so happy to hear that, Kelli! Thanks for stopping by!
We tried this and found it quite heavy and the avocado muddied the salad. We added some fine balsamic vinegar, which brightened this up immensely, to the point my 13 year old had seconds. I do feel the pine nuts were lost to the other flavors and textures, even before adding the vinegar, so I’d save money and leave them out next time.
Maya | Wholesome Yum0
Hi Peter, Thank you for the feedback! I’m glad you found something that made it better for you.
Tried it and I hear healthy!
Maya | Wholesome Yum0
Just made this without the avacado since I didn’t have one too put in, but this salad with the vinaigrette is amazing
Kim | Low Carb Maven0
Ooooh. What a pretty salad. We eat salads almost every day for lunch at my house. Since my kids have started eating salad, I think this would be perfect to accompany our evening meals. Great photos, too.
This is one of my favourite combos. Just looking at it makes me feel healthy! Shared x
This looks so light and healthy! Shared 🙂
Maya, your recipe looks so refreshing and delicious!
This looks delicious! I’ve never heard of “massaging” kale, but I’ll have to try it! And thanks for a chance at the awesome giveaway!