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 1 vote

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
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

Post Your Comment


Kale n' Garlic...2 of my most favorite ingredients...sounds delish Heidi. Enjoy your weekend!

The Healthy Apple

I know what you mean about long trips or other ordeal with substandard nutritional conditions can make you feel so awful that you NEED something fresh, green, and delicious! This looks absolutely gorgeous and perfect for October: Unprocessed. Thank you!

Kimberly @ Poor Girl Eats Well

I adore kale, but have yet to wrap my mind around a raw dish of it. However. If you and Melissa BOTH applaud it, I am obviously missing out.


What a gorgeous dish. Thanks for sharing.


My mouth is STILL watering!!!

Cat Braithwaite

thanks heidi for another great recipe. I made this tonight w/ cranberry/pecan bread from ELI'S (manhattan) I did let the kale marinate for 2 hours before tossing in the toasted garlic-y bread & pecorino. I will definitely do this w/ millet or quinoa for a GF variation.


Heidi, Thanks for another great recipe! I am trying to prepare more raw food dishes as they are loaded with live enzymes and so healthy for you. I love salads! Can't wait to try this one.

Karen from DeliciousandKosher.com

Whilst I love all things green and nutritious, I found kale a bit too tough for my tastes. I suppose a bit of extra chewing won't do me any harm, and with a garlicky, breadcrumb-crunchy topping, I'll have to give this a try some time. HS: Merry, Try slicing the kale even thinner than is called for here. Maybe in 1/3-inch strips? They'll end up even less structured.


Wow, it's like you're reading my mind, first with the amazing muffins and then a kale salad! Exactly what I'm in the mood for,


My Russian Red Kale and Italian Kale (Lacinato) are at their best. This recipe was delivered right on time -- prego!

Tall Clover

Tuscan kale is my current obsession -- I grew it for the first time this year, and it's the garden gift that keeps on giving, and this in a year when almost nothing else did well, so I'm particularly grateful. And speaking of grateful, we have a local pecorino that's just amazing so when I make this I'll use a grater-ful of that.

becky and the beanstock

I like to travel but, there is nothing like coming home to your own surroundings. I hope you have a chance to rest up before getting back into the swing of life. Love the salad, too.


Oh that does look like a great meal to come back to! Welcome home!

Simply Life

yay for the radness of kale!


Kale + lemon = perfect match. Sounds like such a clean, satisfying salad.

Erin @ Blue Egg Kitchen

I wish I liked kale. I have tried several ways and we just don't care for it. We love greens of all kinds except this one. It is so strange. I am glad you are home and well!!! I thank you for all your lovely stories and travels and yummy reciepes.


First off - the picture juxtaposing the textures of the kale vs the toast is stunning! I lived off of raw kale salad this summer - the lemon and salt help to break down the toughness of the Kale a bit, as well as making it tangy and potent. Thanks for sharing! (Though, the weather here in Vermont does not make me want anything raw right now! :) )


Thanks for posting this, Heidi---it's one of our absolute all-time favorite salads. Very restorative. Welcome home!


This salad looks amazing! Europe to NY is long enough, so I can't even imagine the extra hours to fly out to CA. Hopefully you can relax!


I am so inspired, I'm making this for dinner tonight!! I just crumbled my bread crumbs and am about to dress the kale. Can't wait! Thank you!


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