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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 :
Click 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:
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Reader Favorite Recipes
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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.
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Get RECIPE TIPS in the post above, nutrition info + recipe notes below!
Click 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.
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Serving size: 1/6 of entire recipe
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Nutrition Information Per Serving
Where does nutrition info come from? Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy, sourced from the USDA Food Database. You can find individual ingredient carb counts we use in the Low Carb & Keto Food List. Net carb count excludes fiber, erythritol, and allulose, because these do not affect blood sugar in most people. (Learn about net carbs here.) We try to be accurate, but feel free to make your own calculations.
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