lemon parmesan raw kale salad

lemon parmesan raw kale salad // brooklyn supper

This weekend I had a lesson about the things food cannot do. Sometimes, no matter how many pancakes, or sweet apples, or pieces of homemade fried chicken and coconut pie there are, things are going to go off the rails. Tired and cranky can trump even the crispiest breading, even the flakiest dough. Sometimes, kids are gonna be kids and there’s nothing you can do about it.

By Monday, I was a little shell-shocked and needed some kitchen solace and a healthy meal. In my fridge was a bag of kale. Not just any kale, mind you. It was local kale. From a farm. Grown outside even. In other words, however modest, the very first spring produce is here. Eyeing the tiny purple leaves, I realized I’ve never shared one of my favorite salads here, even though I make it all the time. So here it is, a classic, lemony raw kale salad to highlight the tender first leaves of the season, flecked with zest and nutty Parmesan shavings.

You can use any kind of kale in this salad, but it’s important to know your leaves. For larger, tougher leaves, cut the kale into thinner ribbons and allow the dressing the marinate with leaves longer. For tender leaves, go easy on the dressing and salt, adding more only as needed.

And one last thing–we’re hosting another giveaway! Including in the package is a $20 giftcard to Williams-Sonoma, which I know you totally want. So head over to this post and get yourself entered! (Giveaway ends Saturday, April 7 at midnight.)

Lemon Parmesan Raw Kale Salad
makes 2 generous servings

5 cups kale leaves or 1 bunch (I used the Red Russian variety, but any kind will do)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
zest of 1 lemon with a 2 inch section reserved
1/3 cup shaved Parmesan

Wash and thoroughly dry the kale. For small, tender leaves, just rough chop it a bit, while for tougher leaves cut into thin ribbons.

In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice into the olive oil. Add 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt, the prepared horseradish, and all but the reserved lemon zest, and whisk until the dressing is nicely emulsified.

Pour about half the dressing onto the kale leaves, and massage into the leaves with your finger tips. Wait a minute or two, taste, and adjust the dressing or salt levels as needed.

Before serving, slice the reserved zest into thin slivers. Add the zest and Parmesan shavings (I use a vegetable peeler for mine) to the salad and toss.

This salad keep surprisingly well in the fridge for a few days and makes an excellent addition to your brown bag lunch.


  1. says

    That might be the prettiest kale I’ve ever seen. I, too, turn to kale when I need to reset. I love the sound of horseradish in there mingling with the lemon and Parm!

    • says

      Thank you Nicole! I always feel like my salads are too chaotic, so I’m relieved to hear you think it’s pretty. And thanks for mentioning the horseradish! It’s an understated addition–I could totally eats Gold’s right out of the jar.

  2. Madelyn says

    Made this today–wow! I’m a vegetarian, but I never really *got* kale before. Now I think I’m a convert. I made pretty much as prepared but I massaged the kale before adding the dressing, then let the flavors mingle in the fridge for a few hours. Delicious!

  3. Mariko says

    I made this salad for dinner last night, and thought it was so delicious… but I’m finding (as I eat my lunch), that it tastes even better today! Thank you for your great recipes!

  4. Kayla says

    Just made this salad. Delicious!! I am not very experienced in the kitchen, but the kale salad was easy to make, refreshing, healthy and delici

  5. Kayla says

    Just made this salad. Delicious!! I am not very experienced in the kitchen, but the kale salad was easy to make, refreshing, and healthy. I would definitely recommend it!

  6. Polly says

    Absolutely delicious !! First time trying red kale raw. I couldn’t believe what a great addition the horseradish was. At first, I wondered if this was a joke! But, no joke…great different snappy fresh taste. I craved it all day today , so had it again tonight. It will definitely be a regular.

    • Elizabeth says

      Hi Polly,
      I’m so glad the recipe was a success! Thanks for sharing your feedback — glad to have another raw kale convert in the world.

  7. says

    I am so happy to find your recipe for (raw)Red Russian kale this morning. I have just picked my very 1st kale out of this year’s garden. Last year I only cooked my kale and I know it is the most tender….
    I’m just home from visiting my sister and we ate the never ending salad at the Olive Garden 3 nights in a row. I am going to make their salad dressing recipe and use your recipe from there… Thank you for posting ….


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