Kale, Pear and Cranberry Salad

Kale Pear and Cranberry Salad - Healthy Recipe

It all started in September. First there was Rosh Hashanah, then the Yom Kippur break fast, then Sukkot, then Simchat Torah. Now, we’re in that early autumn period where so many other food celebrations loom before us… Thanksgiving, NFL parties, Christmas, Hanukkah… oh, good lordy, latkes. Wouldn’t now be the perfect time to take a break from the crazy calorie madness, cleanse our bodies, and press the reset button? I’m thinking YES. And kale is just the thing the doctor ordered.

In case you haven’t heard the news, kale is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. It’s a cruciferous leafy green packed with Vitamins A, B6, C, and K along with magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, manganese and phosphorus. It also contains strong phytonutrients and cancer-fighting antioxidants. The fiber in kale helps to lower blood cholesterol levels. Eating kale regularly can lower your risk of cancer and heart disease. In a nutshell, it’s really, really good stuff.

Though kale seems to be getting a lot of attention lately, it’s been around for centuries. Kale is the predecessor to cabbage, and was the common “green” eaten by Europeans through the end of the Middle Ages (though, truthfully, greens weren’t super popular back then). In Medieval England, it was known as cole or colewort. In Scotland, where it was widely grown and cultivated, it first became known as kale. In fact, a group of Scottish fiction writers from the 1890’s was nicknamed the “Kailyard School”– they were known for their overly sentimental descriptions of rural life in Scotland (J.M. Barrie of Peter Pan fame was a member). Kale hasn’t changed much genetically over the centuries; the kale we eat today is the same as the kale people ate over a thousand years ago. Only recently cooks have started to rediscover kale, mainly because it packs a nutritional punch. There are few other foods that can match the health benefits of kale.

Up until a few weeks ago, I wasn’t into kale. Like, really wasn’t into it. Everybody told me I should be eating kale… because, you know, it’s the greatest thing ever. It’s the superfood of the century. But I’m not a big salad eater, and every time I tried it, I felt like I couldn’t get over the naturally bitter taste of the kale leaves. In short, I felt like a goat. Fortunately, that all changed when I discovered the kale massage. You heard me right! Believe it or not, massaging the kale leaves for a couple of minutes has a miraculous effect. It removes most of the bitterness of the leaves and gives them a mild, almost sweet flavor.

So go on. Give your kale a rubdown. And while you’re at it, throw in some ripe autumn pears, dried cranberries and toasted pine nuts. This Kale, Pear and Cranberry Salad makes healthy eating a pleasure, not an obligation. You’re welcome.

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Kale Pear and Cranberry Salad - Healthy Recipe

Kale, Pear and Cranberry Salad


  • 1/3 cup raw pine nuts or unsalted raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 bunch (about 10 oz.) kale
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 red bartlett pear diced into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/3 cup dried sweetened cranberries
  • 1/4 tsp salt, or more to taste
Total Time: 15 Minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Kosher Key: Pareve
  • Toast the pine nuts or seeds in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, till golden brown. Watch them carefully, they can easily go from brown to burned if you're not careful. As soon as they're toasted, remove them from the hot skillet to keep them from browning further.
  • If your dried cranberries are super dry and not very soft, you can soak them in hot water for 5 minutes to plump and revive them. Drain the cranberries and pat dry before assembling the salad.
  • Cut the thick stalk ends off of the kale, then chop the kale leaves into bite-sized pieces. You should end up with around 8-10 cups of kale leaves.
  • Place the kale leaves into a salad bowl and pour the olive oil over them. Massage the olive oil into the kale with clean fingers for 2-3 minutes till the kale is softened and slightly wilted. This will help remove bitterness from the kale.
  • Add the lemon juice, diced pear, cranberries, and toasted pine nuts to the bowl and sprinkle the salt evenly across the top. Toss the salad till well mixed.
  • Let the salad sit for at least 5 minutes at room temperature. Toss again, then serve. Refrigerate leftovers in a sealed Tupperware dish for up to 2 days.

Research Sources

Davidson, Alan (1999). The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford University Press, USA.

Comments (37)Post a Comment

  1. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I have recently discovered kale and I’m such a fan! This salad sounds delicious.
    Even though I love pine nuts I’ve had to stop eating them because they give me a terrible case of “pine mouth”. Any other alternatives besides sunflower seeds (which I don’t particularly care for)?

  2. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    I love the history in this post! And I love kale salads, massaged or otherwise. I usually massage the kale with the salt instead of the oil, though, which draws out a lot of the liquid and leaves it fairly wilted–I’ll have to try your technique instead and see if the kale retains more texture (which I like; you may like my salt-rubbing method). :) Either way, the plan for a kale spa is pretty great–either for kale or for people or for both–I see huge potential for the product line there. :)

  3. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    There is a great place in Chicago called the Flying Saucer that does a sauteed kale with tofu and sweet potato that is great. Otherwise I have been kalephobia too, til I started a very restrictive dietary detox this week. I actually made Kale & Potato Soup from the Lowfat Moosewood Cookbook sans the dairy portion and added swiss chard, which I love. It was a winner!!! You cook the kale seperately from the broth, so it probably helps get some of the bitterness out. I will try your massage technique. Would help for kale chip making too I bet. Thanks! United in Kale….

    1. Kale and Potato Soup sounds delish! I’m really trying to work more kale into my diet, I actually feel energized when I eat it on a regular basis. United we stand! Haha

  4. Love your recipes and the history behind the foods. I make various kale salads. I was wondering if it mattered what kind of kale you used for this particular salad. Curly or flat leaf? Thank you. Definitely going to make this dish. Thanks. Randy

  5. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Try (homemade) kale chips! toss with olive oil and some salt (or other seasoning) and bake until crispy! delicious treat for us non-kale lovers!

  6. I’ve been a fan of kale for years after having it everyday when I lived a vegetarian lifestyle at an Ashram. I grow 3different varieties in my garden and mix them sometimes for the different colors and textures. It is SO easy to grow from sees and lasts right through a Seattle winter! My favorite is the Dino or lacinato make which make the best kale chips, IMHO. I massage it with a Tahini Garlic dressing before roasting in a very low oven until dried. (170 degrees). Thanks for this recipe, I think I will make this with a variety!

  7. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I made this today although I was skeptical…I used to make my kids homemade kale baby food when they were little but could never stand the taste myself. It was delicious! Absolutely no bitterness whatsoever. I ended up eating it for dinner with grilled chicken on top. Awesome!

  8. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Kale is delicious with pomegranate seeds and goats cheese in the salad as well as the pear you suggested. Put honey in your salad dressing with olive oil also..

  9. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Tori honey…….You are AMAZING…….This Kale thing pushed me over the edge to be willing to TRY it….I think the “Massage your Kale” got to me……Just like I cannot go #2 without immediately thinking of Dr. Oz, I promise I will think of you
    when I massage my Kale!!! lol…….besides, you mixed it with some of my very favorite foods…..what could happen? Anyway,just an excuse to tell you that I appreciate your passion
    for what you do, and totally get the way in which you do it! You may be “The Shiksa in the Kitchen”…but your Yiddishkeit
    comes thru loud and clear,boob! Ess Gazinta Hait! Marla

  10. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Thank you so much for this recipe! Knowing that kale is a superfood, I have been trying to get my family to love it. No takers until you shared the method of massaging the kale before putting it in a salad. It always feels great to be able to serve something super healthy and yummy at the same time. Thank you! Thank you!

  11. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Wow, this was super tasty! What a great way to “get Kale down,” because like you mentioned, it’s hard to warm up to it when it’s bitter and tough, but boy does the olive oil massage change it!

    I will definitely make this again! I couldn’t believe three TBSP of olive oil would be enough in that big bowl of kale, but it totally was! Thanks! 😀

  12. Hi, I absentmindedly forgot about the cranberries. Had some yellow raisons in the cupboard so I added those instead. Not as pretty as the contrast between the kale and the cranberries, but very yummy nonetheless.

  13. I use kale in potato soup with cream added and my favorite spices be sure to add a bit of nutmeg and not being jewish I add crumbled cooked sausage.

  14. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    just made this for lunch, and my husband and I devoured it!!! it was amazing!! thank you so much! The combination is just perfect!! will definitely make again!! My first time trying out kale salad….yum!

  15. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    My husband is the chef in our house and he made this for erev Rosh Hashannah dinner. We loved it! I too thought it would work well with pecans though he made it with sunflowers. The kale was delicious. I love reading your blog and I forward many of your postings to friends and family.

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