Massaged Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad


Massaged Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad.

Of all the vegetables we grow and eat here at the farm, brussels sprouts are one of the most challenging. Our attempts to grow them fail (and they attract a massive amount of aphids) and the only brussels sprouts recipes we like usually have tons of bacon and bacon fat to enhance the flavor. While we do love our bacon, we would like brussels sprouts to taste good on their own. After multiple failures, we usually avoid brussels sprouts, but every once in a while we try a new brussels sprouts dish in a restaurant or see a recipe that sounds promising. Usually, we are disappointed. But not this time. Carolyn tried this salad at a restaurant (Bar Bocce in Sausalito) and we adapted it for home cooking, and it’s very good- we didn’t even have to add any bacon.

kale10kale7And, oddly enough, what we needed to enjoy the brussels sprouts was some different technique and the addition of another veggie. For the technique, we use finely shaved raw brussels sprouts, and for the extra veggie we added kale. One might not expect two earthly vegetables to compliment each other, but the sweeter sprouts play well with the “briny” notes of the kale. Add some roasted almonds for crunch and nutty flavor, shave on some romano cheese for salt and umami and finish with a bright, acidic dressing and you have a delightful salad.

kale8kale11Simple enough, but there is one extra step that makes this salad really sing, the “massage”. And no, there is nothing creepy about massaging your kale. What’s really going on is that you add some of the lemon juice from the dressing to the kale and sprouts, mix or “massage” the juice with the greens and then let them sit for 5 to 20 minutes. The acid will actually start to “cook” or soften the kale and sprouts. It makes a big difference in texture of the salad. Usually dressing a salad too early makes it wilt, but for a tough green like kale, this is a good thing. (This approach will work for most kale-based salads).

kale6kale5A few other notes about this salad. Firstly, the kale and sprouts are very hearty, so you can store the salad, dressed, in the fridge for a few days- so go ahead and make a big batch, if you like. Secondly, if you want to make a vegan version of the salad simply substitute the cheese with caramelized shallots. It won’t be exactly the same, but it will still be very good. And finally, it is best to shave the brussels sprouts with a small hand slicer or mandolin, but if you don’t have these tools use a very, very sharp knife and take your time. Brussels sprouts can be slippery little suckers, be careful…and then enjoy a very healthy and tasty salad.

Massaged Kale and Brussels Sprouts salad

Massaged Kale And Brussels Sprouts Salad:

(Adapted from Bar Bocce)

Notes Before You Start:

  • We use lacinato kale for this dish but most types of kale will work in this recipe. Just be sure to remove the tough ribs from the middle of the kale.

What You Get: A good recipe for brussels sprouts that doesn’t hide them behind bacon or fat.

What You Need: No special equipment required. But a small hand slicer or mandolin would be a big help.

How Long? About 30 minutes with 10 minutes of active time. Anytime dish.


  • 4 cups kale (we use lacinato), washed and roughly chopped
  • 8 large raw brussels sprouts, washed and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Pecorino romano cheese (sub parmesan, if you like)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper


  1. Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Place the almonds on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until they just darken, 5-10 minutes. Remove from the oven, let the almonds cool for 5 minutes. When cool, roughly chop the almonds and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, wash and chop the kale and wash and shave / thinly slice the brussels sprouts. Drain thoroughly. Place both the kale and brussels sprouts in a large salad bowl. Add half of the lemon juice and toss the greens with your hands and “massage the lemon juice into the greens. Allow the greens to sit for at least 5 and up to 20 minutes.
  3. Combine the olive oil, the remaining lemon juice and honey in a small bowl. Mix until well-combined. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. To assemble the salad, add the dressing, a few tablespoons of grated cheese and half of the almonds to the greens and toss thoroughly. Taste and adjust seasoning. Place some salad on serving plates, shave romano (or parmesan) cheese over each salad and garnish with the extra chopped almonds. Serve.

21 thoughts on “Massaged Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad

  1. Looking good and tasty as always – I going to do your curry today … so post will come during the week. Not a big fan of kale .. so this I pass on. Hope you have a great weekend.

  2. I’m so excited with this recipe! I do love Brussel’s Sprouts and eat them all the time, simply roasted with a little salt. I sometimes actually crave them, which has had me wondering what micronutrient I am lacking, because who craves Brussel’s Sprouts? I will make this up by the gallon and take it with me to work! Bet you didn’t expect someone to get this excited over a salad of this type, right? 🙂

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  4. Loving the sound of this, something else to do with Brussels – RESULT! Mind you I’ve recently discovered Brussels in salads (have yet to blog about them, tut, tut!) and am trult converted. Another of your recipes saved to my favourites file thank you!

    • Thanks! We wised we liked the Brussels more, but we finally have a few recipes we like. Now if we could just grow them (no luck there at all, we get more aphids than sprouts).

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  6. Mmm…bacon…(I eat bacon almost every single day, sometimes twice!) Interesting that your area gives you aphids on your sprouts. I haven’t had those, but cannot tell you the THOUSANDS of caterpillars that will set up shop on a plant here and demolish it overnight. I had to give the soil space to different plants after a few complete losses (which also led the caterpillars to take on the broccoli…and lettuce…and chard…it was a rough week that year.)
    Have you tried them sauteed in just butter and garlic, with salt and pepper? DH made some that way the other day that were delicious. I’m about to make him some your way to return the favor =)

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