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Sesame Ginger Kale Salad

I used to think kale was gross. It was tough, bitter, and seemed to suck the flavor out of anything I cooked with it.

Little did I know, I was just eating the wrong kind.

Yes, friends, there is more than one type of kale. And the most popular curly-leaf kale is the least delicious of the bunch.

So before you decide “all kale is gross,” I dare you to buy the tastier variety of kale and give my latest recipe a shot. (Don’t knock it ‘til you try it!)

The kale in question is called Lacinato kale (also called dinosaur kale, Italian black kale, or Tuscan kale), and it’s dark, smooth, thin leaves have a naturally sweeter, less bitter flavor (see picture below).

It also happens to boast more antioxidants than traditional curly kale. (You may recall I use lacinato kale for making Lemon & Garlic Kale Chips.)

Sesame Ginger Kale Salad

Raw vs Cooked Kale

Most of the time, I prefer kale cooked. It softens the leaves, reduces the natural bitterness, and also deactivates some of the goitrogens (naturally occurring plant chemicals found in cruciferous vegetables that can, in high amounts, inhibit thyroid function).

But, I do love an occasional marinated kale salad, especially if I can get my hands on really fresh, tender leaves of Lacinato kale.

When making marinated kale salads with raw kale, be sure to “massage” the dressing into every nook and cranny of the leaves. This helps soften the leaves a bit (by mechanically breaking down some of the fiber) and also ensures the delicious salad dressing evenly flavors every bite.

If you’re particularly sensitive to eating raw kale, meaning you’re overcoming chronic thyroid issues or your digestive system cannot handle raw vegetables, simply steam or blanch the kale before preparing the salad (drain thoroughly before adding the dressing, though).

So, clean up those hands and get ready to massage a delicious sesame ginger kale salad.

Sesame Ginger Kale Salad

  • 1 bunch Lacinato kale (also called dinosaur kale, Italian black kale, or Tuscan kale) de-stemmed, leaves cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 inch chunk fresh ginger, peeled, sliced into matchsticks
  • 2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice, lemon juice, or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons coconut sugar, or other sweetener
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce, wheat-free tamari, or coconut aminos
  • dash red pepper flakes (optional)


  1. In a large bowl, mix ginger, sesame oil, lime juice, coconut sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, and (optional) red pepper flakes.
  2. Taste test and adjust seasonings to your preference (more fish sauce/soy for salt, more lime juice for sour, more coconut sugar for sweet). Keep in mind, you'll want the dressing to be highly seasoned.
  3. Add de-stemmed and chopped kale leaves.
  4. With clean hands, massage dressing into every leaf (no need to be delicate here!).
  5. Let marinate for 30 minutes or more before serving.

Sesame Ginger Kale Salad

Before you go, I’d love to hear from you.
Are you a fan of kale? If so, what’s your favorite way to prepare it?

Tell us about it in the comments below.

Until next week,

P.S. If you’d like more tips for making vegetables taste good, be sure to grab my free ebook below, “Veggies: Eat Them Because You Want To, Not Because You Have To.” Thousands of people have used this book to ignite their love for produce. Will you be next?

Veggies: Eat them because you want to, not because you have to

Your guide to making vegetables taste seriously good

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Lily Nichols is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist, Certified Diabetes Educator, researcher, and author with a passion for evidence-based prenatal nutrition and exercise. Her work is known for being research-focused, thorough, and unapologetically critical of outdated dietary guidelines. She is the author of two bestselling books, Real Food for Pregnancy and Real Food for Gestational Diabetes.


Leave a comment
  1. We call it Cavolo Nero in the UK and it is SO DELICIOUS! I think it is my favourite leafy green, not always easy to find though! I’m so bummed I have already had dinner or I would try this recipe tonight!

    • Next time, Jess! Let me know how it turns out. 🙂

  2. I discovered “massaged” kale a few years ago and can’t go back to just “raw” kake salads. I love how sweet and silky the leaves get – even with just a sprinkle of salt, a splash of EVOO and a squeeze of lemon. Your recipe, however, sounds divine – you had me at ginger!

    • I’m such a ginger fiend, too!

  3. Ginger sounds amazing with kale, I generally eat my kale steamed, oh and kale chips are amazing! I’m looking forward to trying this recipe!

  4. Fabulous recipe, Lily! I actually have an issue with eating too MUCH kale–I learned that people who each too much too often can get kidney stones! You can never go wrong with a delicious kale salad. If you let it marinate for a long time, the leaves get very soft and easy to chew and digest.

    • Yep, Cassie. Raw kale has a bunch of oxalic acid, which can lead to kidney stones in susceptible people (or simply with excessive intake). It may be trite, but “moderation is key.”

  5. Hi Leigh from Australia
    I grow this one and love your recipe thanks for such great blogs

    • Glad you like it! Great way to use up all that kale.

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