Massaged Kale and Sweet Potato Salad

Massaged Kale with Roasted Sweet Potatoes. #recipe #greens @MJsKitchen


A couple of years ago I came across a Massaged Kale Salad by Aarti Sequeira, one of the Food Network Star winners.  It looked interesting so I made it and loved it, and now I make it all of the time.  Ripe, juicy mango combined with fresh kale massaged with olive oil and lemon, then toasted pepitas is such a unique combination.  Since I first made Aarti’s salad, I have been playing around with massaged kale because, personally – I now prefer it over cooked kale.  I’ve made this salad with oranges, apples, oranges and apples, sweet potatoes, and a few other ingredients – some worked, some didn’t.  Sweet potato and yam definitely worked!

This massaged kale and sweet potato salad uses the same dressing and method for massaging the kale as Aarti’s, but the other salad ingredients are  different.  This particular salad can be a meal or a side.  No matter how you serve it, you’ll love it!


Massaged Kale and Sweet Potato Salad Recipe

Recipe Author:  MJ of MJ’s Kitchen

Serves: 2 as a meal or 4 as a side
Cook and Prep Time: 30 minutes


The potatoes

1 Tbsp. roasted garlic infused oil (or 1 Tbsp. olive oil and ¼ tsp. garlic powder)
1 large sweet potato or yam, cut into ½” cubes
1 tsp. smoked paprika
¼ tsp. salt (or to taste)
½ cup diced onion

The Kale and dressing
1 bunch dino kale
juice from half a lemon (about 1 to 1 ½ Tbsp.)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
sea salt
1 Tbsp. honey
3 Tbsp. pinon nuts (pine nuts), toasted
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
3 slice of bacon, cooked crisp, crumbled (optional)


The sweet potatoes

  1. In a large non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium low heat. Add the sweet potatoes and toss to coat.
  2. Sprinkle with the smoked paprika, salt, and garlic powder (if using). Toss to coat. Spread the sweet potatoes out so you have one layer. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove cover and add the onion. Toss, spread the potatoes out, and re-cover for another 5 minutes.
  4. Remove cover, increase heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until the sweet potatoes are toasty brown.
  5. Remove from heat. Taste and add salt if needed.


  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the other half of the lemon juice with the honey.
  2. Add 1 Tbsp. olive oil and whisk to an emulsion.

The kale

  1. Destem the kale leaves. Cut crosswise into narrow strips. Transfer to a salad bowl.
  2. Drizzle about 1 Tbsp. of olive on the kale along with half of the lemon juice and a light sprinkling of sea salt.
  3. With both hands, massage the kale for 3 to 5 minutes until the kale is wilted and soft. Add the dressing and toss.

To assemble (assemble the salad on individual plates)

  1. Place the desired amount of the kale for one serving on a plate.
  2. Top with some of the potatoes, some nuts, and some feta.

Serve everyone else and Enjoy!



Kitchen Notes

The potatoes – For the salad in the picture I used Japanese yams, but any type of yam or sweet potato works.  Again, I don’t peel because I buy organic, so the potatoes just get a good scrubbing, then are cubed.Massaged Kale with Roasted Sweet Potatoes. #recipe #greens @MJsKitchen

The kale – I prefer to use dino kale (or dinosaur kale) for this salad.  Dino kale also goes under the names Tuscan kale, black kale, Nero Toscana, and Black Italian cabbage.  Other types of  kale work, but the texture is a little different and might have to be massaged longer to break them down.

Dino kale is very easy to destem.  Just grab the thick end of the stem and with your other hand, peel the leaf away from the stem by running your hand down the stem pulling away the leaf.

The honey – Kale can be relatively bitter, so I use a full tablespoon of honey.  If you find it too sweet, then just cut back.

Other suggestions – Bobby said it was excellent but would be even better with bacon. Well DUH! What’s not better with bacon?! Next time I’ll fry up some bacon and test it out, but for now, I love it just like it is.  O.K. – I made this and topped it with bacon.  It was delicious!  I didn’t have feta, so the bacon was a great salty substitute.

Kitchen Science

Bobby is my greens washer, cutter, and masseur, and a great masseur he is!  A while back when he was washing the kale he noticed how the water beaded up on the inside of the leaf.  When he pointed it out to me I jumped into a lesson on hydrophobic vs. hydrophilic. (Yes, I am a nerd!)  That lesson then lead to this Kitchen Science.

As part of my real job, I’m developing an Introduction to Nanotechnology course for high school and freshman level students.  One of the lessons is about hydrophobic surfaces found in nature – surfaces such as that of the dino kale leaf, the lotus leaf, and the shell of the Stenocara beetle, a beetle that survives in the Namib Desert, one of the hottest places on Earth.  By studying such surfaces and what makes them hydrophobic, researchers are now developing technologies such as self-cleaning windows, wiperless windshields for cars, and water harvesting materials for drought-laden areas.  To illustrate the concept of hydrophobia, Bobby and I made the following video.



  • The red particles are…you guessed it – red chile powder.
  • Surfaces that are not hydrophobic are hydrophilic. They absorb water.
  • Here’s another video using a lotus leaf to demonstrate hydrophobicity using honey.

Cool stuff!

For more sweet potato dishes, check out these recipes:

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Brown Butter and Bourbon

Spicy Orange Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Green Chile Sweet Potato Hash Browns

Mashed Sweet Potatoes – Quick & Easy

Sweet Potato, Fennel and Andouille


This recipe has been share with the following blog hops.  Be sure to click on the links for more fabulous recipes!

My Meatless Monday, Just Another Meatless Monday, Hearth and Soul, Fat Tuesday, What’s Cooking Wednesday?, Real Food Friday, Allergy Free Wednesday, Whole Foods Wednesday, Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays , Summer Salad Sunday, Katherine Martinelli’s Greens Hop, Meatless Monday, Fat Tuesday, Fresh Foods Wednesday, Gluten-Free Wednesday, Made With Love Monday
Sweet Potato Salad

This recipe was featured on Summer Salad Sunday.






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73 Responses to “Massaged Kale and Sweet Potato Salad”

  1. Pradipta June 7, 2016 at 5:38 am #

    It looks yummy and easy to cook. I will definitely try this at home.

    • mj June 8, 2016 at 4:22 pm #

      Thanks! Hope you like it!

  2. Cheryl March 1, 2013 at 10:59 am #

    This was the bomb! just now eating the leftovers for lunch, and I heated just a moment to get the sweet potatoes to room temp. Didn’t use the bacon, just the feta on top.

    • mj March 1, 2013 at 4:48 pm #

      Cheryl – I’m so glad you like it!!!! Thanks for letting me know. I love knowing that people are actually making my recipes! 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend and thanks again!

  3. Linda October 16, 2012 at 9:03 am #

    This look so healthy and tasty! Thanks for sharing it at GF Wednesdays.

  4. kristy @ gastronomical sovereignty October 8, 2012 at 7:19 am #

    raw kale salads make my little heart happy. and with all the sweet potatoes out right now – this would be perfect for dinner. heck yeah! haha

    thank you for sharing your post with us at the Wednesday Fresh Foods Link Up! I hope we’ll see you again this week with more amazing seasonal & real food posts. xo, kristy.

  5. Denise @WholemadeGoodness October 7, 2012 at 6:54 am #

    This is the second recipe for “massaged” kale I’ve seen in the last two weeks. Sounds like something I need to try. Wonder how it might turn out with butternut squash in place of the sweet potatoes?

    • mj October 7, 2012 at 7:46 am #

      Denise, I’m sure sure it would be delicious! I’ve tried it with many fruits and vegetables and even black beans, and it hasn’t failed me yet. 🙂 thanks for stopping by!

  6. Jessica September 18, 2012 at 9:59 am #

    This sounds simply divine! I am a huge kale fan and have never tried it with sweet potatoes. The thing is, reading this makes me want a massage now! Thanks for linking up!

    • mj September 19, 2012 at 10:02 pm #

      Thanks Jessica! Hope you got that massage. 🙂 Kale and sweet potato turned out to be a great combo!

  7. alli September 17, 2012 at 8:38 am #

    Oh. My. Yum.
    This looks spectacular! I’m a huge kale fan and have never even heard of massaged kale. Thank you so much for posting this to the meatless Monday hop or I may have lived the rest of my life without trying this!

    Have a great day!


  8. January Stanback August 28, 2012 at 1:19 am #

    I made this last night and thought it was great! I added some sauteed ingredients

  9. Debbie @ Easy Natural Food August 9, 2012 at 5:11 pm #

    This salad looks delicious, and so very, very simple! I have chosen your salad as one of my featured salads this week! I have tweeted it, pinned it and shared it on my Facebook page. It will be featured on Summer Salad Sundays this coming Sunday. Thanks for linking up and I hope to see you again soon!

    • mj August 9, 2012 at 7:33 pm #

      Thanks Debbie!!!! You’re the greatest and thanks for being such a great hostess on Summer Salad Sundays!

  10. Magic of Spice May 24, 2012 at 1:02 pm #

    Great salad, and love that video! I am so impressed!!!

  11. Laura @ Gluten Free Pantry May 22, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

    I am featuring your delicious salad this week on Allergy-Free Wednesdays 🙂

  12. Rogene May 16, 2012 at 12:52 pm #

    That looks so good! Will have to give it a try. I love kale!

  13. cajunville May 15, 2012 at 6:18 am #

    MJ, this sounds fantastic. We enjoy kale and sweet potatoes just never combined them. Kale is on my list for the market this week; already have sweet potatoes. thanks!

  14. Judy@Savoring Today May 14, 2012 at 3:00 pm #

    Okay, I’m a little jealous of the kale … I’ll take a 3-5 minutes massage any day, just sayin’. 😉 Have got to try this, really, I’ve been trying to eat more kale and this sounds like a good way to add more in — thanks!

  15. sally May 13, 2012 at 10:07 am #

    Love the kitchen science–I’m a science nerd too! Next time I buy kale, I’ll have try massaging it.

  16. April @ The 21st Century Housewife May 12, 2012 at 4:11 am #

    This looks delicious! I love the way you have cooked the sweet potato with the smoked paprika as well. What a delicious and healthy dish!

  17. Jackie @ Crest Cottage May 9, 2012 at 8:46 pm #

    Massaged kale is one of my favorites! I make it with apple cider vinegar instead of lemon juice because I am such a vinegar freak. I can down a whole bunch of kale at one siting. In fact, I once packed a huge pyrex bowl of massaged kale on a beach day with my mom and aunt… I’m sure you can imagine the crazy stares I got!

  18. Reese@SeasonwithSpice May 8, 2012 at 4:34 am #

    Thanks for sharing such informative tips on kale. Thoroughly enjoyed the video. This looks like a fantastic recipe to keep. Healthy, light yet delicious. And I adore the additions of pine nuts!

  19. Janet May 7, 2012 at 6:19 pm #

    Loved the recipe, video, and science lesson. Looking forward to a wonderful meal AND self-cleaning windows. 🙂

    • mj May 7, 2012 at 9:00 pm #

      Thanks Janet! I’m still waiting for those self-cleaning windows myself! Wouldn’t that be nice?! Have a great week!

  20. Tina (PinayInTexas) May 7, 2012 at 9:34 am #

    what a wonderful kale salad recipe, MJ! even with just the pine nuts and cheese, I’m sure it tasted awesome! Hope I could find the kind of sweet potatoes you used!

  21. Jessica @ Cajunlicious May 7, 2012 at 8:02 am #

    MJ, this is fantastic, amazing flavor combinations!

  22. Deeps @ Naughty Curry May 7, 2012 at 7:17 am #

    i remember this episode! looks delish..

  23. Nisa Homey May 6, 2012 at 9:33 pm #

    Mj, this is awesome…such a refreshing and healthy salad…thanks for the massaging technique…bookmarked!

  24. Julia {The Roasted Root} May 6, 2012 at 10:02 am #

    I cook with kale every day and have never seen the massaging technique. I love this idea! This way you have a softened leaf but don’t loose the nutritional content that you would sometimes with steaming. I always have sweet potato and kale on hand, so this dish will be made today! Hope you’re enjoying the weekend!

  25. ginny lee May 6, 2012 at 6:59 am #

    massaging some kale today for food52 mozzarella making party 🙂 Sophie loves this salad which I find odd for a 12 year old but I am not complaining. I love it with ricotta salata.

  26. Allen@Cook! Bake! Share! May 5, 2012 at 4:05 pm #

    This is such a healthy, refreshing looking salad! I always liked watching Aarti’s cooking on Food Network, too. Thanks for sharing – I can sense it will become a favorite! Allen.

  27. Heather @Gluten-Free Cat May 5, 2012 at 8:55 am #

    I’ve never tried honey with kale, but I love the idea and will try it soon!

  28. Umm Mymoonah May 5, 2012 at 5:45 am #

    Lovely and healthy salad.

  29. Malou | Skip to Malou May 4, 2012 at 10:04 pm #

    i haven’t done anything with Kale yet.. and Aarti is one of my favorite Foodnetwork star winner. Thanks for dropping by my site.

  30. Valerie @ From Valerie's Kitchen May 4, 2012 at 6:07 pm #

    I have never heard of massaging kale before! Sounds a little kinky but I’ll give it a try…haha. All jokes aside, I LOVE the sweet potatoes seasoned with smoked paprika and garlic. What a fantastic dish!

  31. Soni May 4, 2012 at 3:28 pm #

    Such a great idea to massage the kale!!I’ve never done it, and now cannot wait to try!!Your salad looks so tasty and delicious, no wonder you’ve made it so many times 🙂
    I loved the cool video as well!!How interesting :)Have a great weekend!!

  32. wok with ray May 4, 2012 at 2:03 pm #

    Salad looks delicious and the dressing sounds very light. I like that video about hydrophobic, it’s very informative. Thank you, MJ and have a very nice weekend!

  33. Nami | Just One Cookbook May 4, 2012 at 10:33 am #

    Hmm this sounds really good MJ. I think I’d like the cooked kale version too. And you cooked with the sweet potatoes, not just sweet potatoes, it is Satsumaimo!!!! Two thumbs up. I love this sweet potato so much and this salad is a keeper and going to try it. I love you cooked this just like how I like it. 😉

    • mj May 4, 2012 at 12:22 pm #

      Nami – thanks for providing the official name of those sweet potatoes and you nice comments! The co-op doesn’t have them often, but when it does, I buy them. I love the flavor! Have a great weekend!

  34. Tiffany May 4, 2012 at 6:39 am #

    Not only does this dish LOOK amazing… it has an AWESOME name! 😀

  35. Rathai May 4, 2012 at 1:21 am #

    I would love to try each and every one of your recipes because your food always looks appetizing and delicious and this one is no exception. Even the kinds of food that I typically wouldn’t care much for like salad, you make me crave it. Your passion for food really shines through your pictures.

    • mj May 4, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

      You always leave the nicest comments! Thanks!!!!!! Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  36. Food Jaunts May 3, 2012 at 8:18 pm #

    So I totally read the title of this post and had a mental image of you massaging kale with soft music in the background by candlelight lol! (And yes, my mind can be a bit random). I’m a bit bummed though – apparently you can’t get baby bellas where you are and I can’t find black kale. This salad looks gorgeous – I love the mix of ingredients.

    • mj May 4, 2012 at 12:25 pm #

      🙂 🙂 🙂 Have a great weekend!

  37. Javelin Warrior May 3, 2012 at 12:10 pm #

    I learned a whole bunch today, so thank you! First, I didn’t know what it meant to “massage” kale besides the obvious thought of hiring a masseur, so thank you for cluing me in. And the video at the end is not only an interesting watch, it’s also extremely well shot and scripted (and so high def!)…

    • mj May 3, 2012 at 9:42 pm #

      Thanks Javelin for all of your nice comments! Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

    • Javelin Warrior November 12, 2012 at 1:28 pm #

      Thanks for sharing this with Made with Love Mondays, MJ – and I’ll admit I love beets but I know it’s a polarizing root 🙂

  38. France @ Beyond The Peel May 3, 2012 at 11:39 am #

    I have never served kale using the massaging technique referred to above but I’m fascinated. Joshua will eat kale but doesn’t love it. I wonder if he’ll prefer it this way as you do. Definitely trying this out!

  39. Kanan May 3, 2012 at 9:32 am #

    salad looks delicious

  40. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles May 3, 2012 at 9:16 am #

    I can’t believe you made that video… Is that Bobby’s voice? He sounds fantastic; truly – let’s get him his own nature show. Loved it!

    I have to try the massage technique; my blogging buddy Junia over @ Mis Pensamientos uses it frequently as well. I have always gently pan fried kale and love it that way but I need to expand my preparation repertoire and you’ve now convinced me to try this method :). Beautiful looking dish MJ.

    • mj May 3, 2012 at 9:41 pm #

      Yep – the voice is Bobby’s. He is very talented. He shot the video for me in slow mo, edited it and did the voiceover. All I had to do was come up with the idea, drop a few drops of water on the kale and write the script. Easy breasy! 🙂 You really should try to massaged kale. It’s wonderful! Thanks for your comments Kelly and have a great weekend!

  41. Angie@Angie's Recipes May 3, 2012 at 7:50 am #

    Now I regret that I didn’t get some kale this morning from the farmer market. The salad looks fantastic!

  42. Charlie May 3, 2012 at 7:35 am #

    LOL! I think I need the massage more than the kale does! :~D

    Hello Artie:

    My name is Charlie and this is my first time to your site.

    Your recipe looks delicious!

    Your site is one to be visited again, so as soon as I post this, I will be subscribing.

    Have a Joyful Day!


    Suzie: Would love the recipe you have with avocado massaged into the kale.

    • mj May 3, 2012 at 9:38 pm #

      Thanks for dropping by Charlie and leaving a comment! I hope to hear from you again! Have a great weekend! MJ

  43. Katherine Martinelli May 3, 2012 at 4:56 am #

    What a wonderful recipe! I love kale and in particular dinosaur kale – it’s probably the produce I miss most in Israel! Great technique to massage it instead of cooking it, I bet it retains even more of its nutrients that way.

  44. Baker Street May 3, 2012 at 3:39 am #

    The pine nut dressing sounds delish. Lovely recipe MJ!

  45. Charles May 2, 2012 at 4:05 pm #

    Heh, I wasn’t expecting such an interesting lesson in water and surfaces today 😀 Fascinating – I’ve often wondered about that myself! MJ, your salad looks beautiful – so colourful, and the title makes it sound so lovingly prepared. “Massaged kale” – I bet that was some chilled out kale 🙂

    • mj May 3, 2012 at 9:37 pm #

      Not only does the kale get chilled out but so does Bobby. He says it’s kind of Zenlike massage greens! 🙂

  46. Sissi May 2, 2012 at 2:46 pm #

    I love the name! Frankly I have only had very bad experience with kale. It was maybe too old or I simply didn’t know how to prepare it. I haven’t retried for many years. Your salad sounds fantastic.

  47. Tessa May 2, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

    What a lovely flavor combination!

  48. Ramona May 2, 2012 at 12:21 pm #

    I think Aarti is fantastic and I was cheering her on during Next Food Network Star. I’m so glad she won!! I remember her making this on her show and always thought it looks wonderful and healthy. I’m glad you made it and love it so much. 🙂

  49. Jane May 2, 2012 at 12:20 pm #

    I love your videos … so informative, and I love this salad! I am definitely trying this over the weekend!

    • mj May 3, 2012 at 9:36 pm #

      Thanks Jane! Glad you enjoyed the video! I hope you enjoy this salad. Let me know if you try it. have a great weekend!

  50. kitchenriffs May 2, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

    I’ve never heard of massaged kale! Great concept, though – I really like the idea. And kale (or any strong tasting green ) + sweet potatoes = yummy flavor. And very nice video! I’m kind nerdy too. (In a former life I published electrical engineering & computer science textbooks + professional books, so I guess I had to be!) Good post – thanks.

    • mj May 3, 2012 at 9:35 pm #

      Thanks for your comments! I find it very interesting that nowadays, being nerdy is cool. When I was growing back when, nerdy was NOT cool. My how things change. 🙂 Hope you’re having a great week!

  51. Sanjeeta kk May 2, 2012 at 11:05 am #

    Love the dressing..what is Pinon it similar to pine nuts?

    • mj May 2, 2012 at 4:07 pm #

      Yes – pine nuts and pinon nuts are the same. We call them pinon nuts here in New Mexico because they come from the pinon trees that grow here. I’ve gathered pinons a couple of times, but that way too much work! 🙂

  52. Suzi May 2, 2012 at 10:23 am #

    MJ, this is fantastic. I have only had raw kale massaged with avocado and lime topped with hemp seed or sunflower. I will definitely try this looks delicious. Funny how the massaging of the kale makes it soft. I still love it cooked with just olive oil and garlic.


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