Raw Tuscan Kale Salad

A beautiful, shredded, raw kale salad tossed in a vibrant, lemony-pecorino dressing. From Melissa Clark's cookbook, In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite.

Raw Tuscan Kale Salad

Sometimes a good kale salad is in order. And this is one of those times. I'm home. My suitcase is unpacked. My laundry is done. Fresh flowers are finding their way back into Mason jars, and the avalanche of mail is, quite honestly, being ignored. Travel time from our apartment in Testaccio to our front door in San Francisco: twenty hours. Twenty. Hours. It hurts to even type that. After travel like this I end up craving extra-wholesome food for days after arriving home. This time, my first day back, I turned out a super satisfying lunch inspired by two recipes, including the Raw Tuscan Kale Salad, in Melissa Clark's cookbook - In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite.
kale salad topped with breadcrumbs in a large bowl

This Salad: Simple But So Much More

Let’s talk it through. The core of this salad is lots of kale tossed in a vibrant, lemony-pecorino dressing. The recipe calls for just a handful of ingredients, but they all deliver - crunchy, toasted breadcrumbs, red pepper flakes, good olive oil. Simple, but special. If you don’t believe me, read the comments. People absolutely love this.
kale salad topped with breadcrumbs in a large bowl

So, it is a salad I threw together for a casual lunch, but can also imagine making for friends or family. I can imagine endless ways you might work it into a one-dish meal. Make a bit of extra dressing, add some farro to the mix, and top with a poached egg, for example. Or, incorporate some roasted winter squash alongside the kale. Or, do a more finely chopped version before folding every thing into a bowl of seasoned quinoa. I ate the salad alongside Melissa's Mustard and Pickle-spiked Tofu Salad served on toasted poppy seed wheat bread. At that moment, few things would have tasted better.

Kale Salad Tips

  • If you’re worried the kale will be too tough to enjoy raw, go ahead and slice it into narrower strips.The recipe calls for 3/4-inch, but you can go with half that, or even try a shaved version - more like slaw.
  • The recipe has you toss the kale with the dressing, then allow it to sit for five minutes. You can leave it longer, or toss it longer if you want to tenderize the kale leaves more.

kale salad topped with breadcrumbs in a large bowl


I’m pulling a couple variations from the comments because a number of readers are extremely enthusiastic about the cooked versions they’re enjoying.

  • Lindsey mentioned, “I sautéed onion slices first, added the kale and wilted it and made it a warm salad (same dressing). It was a HUGE hit and a nice cold weather variation.“
  • Honeybear seconds the idea of trying a cooked version, “I had some leftover so I placed it on a jelly roll pan and cooked it at 300 degrees for 10-15 min, until it was crispy. YUM!!”

wood dinner table set with salad bowl and smaller plates with sandwiches

More Kale Salads


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Raw Tuscan Kale Salad

5 from 3 votes

I doubled up on the breadcrumbs here, because who doesn't like a bit of extra crunch? This is reflected in the recipe below. And for those of you without access to pecorino, freshly grated Parmesan is a reasonable substitute.

  • 1 bunch Tuscan kale (for ex: black or lacinato)
  • 2 thin slices country bread, or two handfuls good, homemade coarse breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 garlic clove
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus a pinch
  • 1/4 cup (or small handful) grated pecorino cheese, plus additional for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for garnish
  • Freshly squeezed juice of one lemon (scant 1/4 cup or ~50ml)
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. Trim the bottom few inches off the kale stems and discard. Slice the kale into 3/4-inch ribbons. You should have 4 to 5 cups. Place the kale in a large bowl.
  2. If using the bread, toast it until golden brown on both sides and dry throughout. Tear into small pieces and pulse in a food processor until the mixture forms coarse crumbs, or crumbs to your liking.
  3. Using a mortar and pestle or a knife, pound or mince the garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of salt into a paste. Transfer the garlic to a small bowl. Add 1/4 cup cheese, 3 tablespoons oil, lemon juice, pinch of salt, pepper flakes, and black pepper and whisk to combine. Pour the dressing over the kale and toss very well (the dressing will be thick and need lots of tossing to coat the leaves).
  4. Let the salad sit for 5 minutes (more if you’d like the kale to lose more structure), then serve topped with the bread crumbs, additional cheese, and a drizzle of oil.

Serves 4.

Adapted from the Raw Tuscan Kale Salad with Chiles and Pecorino recipe in Melissa Clark's In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite.

Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
1 min
Total Time
11 mins
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Recipe Rating


we've been making a salad like this in my house for a while now. recently i made it vegan and gluten-free by using crushed walnuts instead of the cheese and breadcrumbs. (chop the nuts so they're the texture of breadcrumbs.) i also replaced the olive oil with walnut oil and added hemp seeds. earthy, nutty, delicious. HS: Love this idea!


Too funny! The first thing I made as soon as I was home from our 2 week back packing trip was a raw kale salad. I was going crazy for some raw veggies!


i love the look of this salad. i love kale. i think i know what i need to make this weekend!

laura @ alittlebarefoot

love this salad! one of our favorite local east village joints in nyc called Northern Spy Food Co. started serving it last year with roasted squash and it's delightful!!

the purcells

I can absolutely commiserate with your travel ailments. I think the lack of fresh air contributes too. I suspect this salad will also satisfy as a respite from the imminent holiday over-indulgences.


Raw kale salads have become a work lunch staple for me. So much nutrition. I love how few ingredients are in this salad, keeping the attention on the kale.

Sarah S.

I am cutting down carbs so I made this salad without the bread. I also reduced the olive oil by a tablespoon. YUMMY!!!!!! I love kale, but I have been looking for a way to eat it raw without feeling like a rabbit. This is the ticket!


I love Melissa Cark's new book and kale. I wish I could head up north to the signing tonight. Thanks for the post! Her walnut brown bread is really great as well.

Nicole @ The Dirty Oven

I do believe you just helped me make use of one more vegetable in today's CSA delivery! I think we'll be adding it to quinoa and perhaps have a simple soup on the side, perhaps involving leeks since we got a several of those in this week's CSA as well.

Kristi aka FiberFool

Is kale more nutritious cooked or raw? Always wondered.


I'm so excited to see such an elegant raw kale salad! I am used to massaged raw kale salads with avocado, but it's inspiring to see one that I could actually serve to guests, and one that won't leave my hands all greasy from trying to manually wilt the kale. It's also a perfect recipe because it's comprised of ingredients that I always have lying around my house.

Abigail @ Good To Think and Eat

Hi Heidi! Since you're a kale lover, I thought to pass along the recipe for a wonderful side dish that I recently ate at a tapas bar. It's a very simple recipe but it must be made a day in advance. To prepare the dish, tear up kale into pieces and place it in a marinade of coconut milk, cayenne and lemon juice. Marinate overnight. The next day, scoop out the kale and place it on the grill for 20 - 30 seconds. Serve immediately. The grill adds a lovely smokiness to the creamy coconut flavor and heat of the cayenne. I imagine this would make a great side dish at a barbecue (or with anything - I love kale!). HS: Totally going to try this. I get it'd be great with grilled tofu and maybe some soba noodles.


Thanks for the kale recipe! I'll file it away for now because my kale sprouts are still so small in the garden :)


I can totally feel for you. I just got back Tuesday after a 18 hour journey from Amsterdam to Connecticut! I have no idea what time of day it is... This salad looks perfect and simple for someone with major time confusion!

Vicki @ Wilde in the Kitchen

Love your posts and kale! In morning greens smoothies (always with a banana and any fruit), raw salads, more. The trick I learned recently is to MASSAGE THE KALE - I slice the whole leaves thinly, add a small amount of whatever liquid and massage/knead it like bread (or sauerkraut). It breaks down the fiber, makes it softer. I keep the stems in - they're the most nutritious part - unless way too old or woody. Check it out!


Kale is one of the greatest gifts nature gives us -- the perfect way to reconnect with ourselves after long travel, hard work, exhaustion. It's so life-giving! This salad looks great.

Meister @ Eat This Neighborhood

I do love a good kale recipe! I've never heard of Tuscan kale however.

Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday

Edible Foods Hawaii had a similar kale recipe. Called for pine nuts for which we substituted macadamia nuts. It did call for massaging the leaves with the lemon juice. Also had some dried cranberries. Everyone loved it and I have beau coup black kale in my garden. I will be traveling to Spain shortly and you can add on another 16 hours, including layover, from Hawaii. Not my idea of fun but hope it is worth all the downsides. I'll keep this salad in mind for homecoming. Thanks for your delightful posts. Aloha, Kauairosina


Isn't home cooked food the best? The last time I was in Italy - though we certainly ate well and loved every second of the trip (especially the food in the Emilia Romagna region) - coming home I was so grateful not only for everything we have available to us here (food renaissance!), but also for the simple pleasure of something made at home.

Alex (Simmer Boston)

It looks real healthy and tasy. Perfect for a light lunch. Thanks for posting.

Asim Usta

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