It seems like Kale is the 2012 super food. I mean I know it existed before that, obviously, but everywhere I turn, I’ve been seeing recipes for it.

Usually I’m not a fan of raw kale since it’s a lot tougher than a typical salad leaf. I like to sauté or braise it. But I found this recipe  for Kale, Apple and Pancetta Salad in one of my trusty food emails the other day and thought it sounded too good to pass up.

Most of the recipes I had seen for kale in salad called for massaging it. Yep, you read right. While you’re peeling and chopping those poor other veggies, lucky Kale is getting a rub down.

Massaging kale is actually some sort of a scientific process. You add some oil/dressing, grab bunches of it in both hands and squeeze. Then rub them together. And repeat. The tough cellulose structure breaks down and the leaves wilt. The leaves will darken and shrink to almost half their pre-massage volume.

This salad actually didn’t call for such a technique, although I think it could have used it. Nate might have gotten a bit jealous though ;)

In the end the flavors were totally delicious but I think if I made it again I would either massage it or lightly saute just the greens before mixing it with everything else. And oh my, the pancetta MADE this salad. If you don’t eat pork, you must substitute something else similar (maybe turkey bacon), as it just wouldn’t be the same without that saltiness.

I’m posting this as part of the #greenslove March bloghop hosted by:
Al Dente GourmetAstig VeganBadger Girl Learns to CookBaking and Cooking: A Tale of Two Loves,BigFatBakerBon a CroquerCafeTerraBlogCake DuchessCheap Ethnic EatsEasily Good Eats,GeorgiecakesKitchen BelleiciousMis PensamientosMy Twisted RecipesNo One Likes Crumbley Cookies,Oh CakeQueen’s NotebookRico Sin AzucarSavoring Every Bite, Simply ReemSoni’s Food for Thought,Sprint 2 the TableTeaspoon of SpiceThat Skinny Chick Can Bake!!!The Art of Cooking Real FoodThe Spicy RDThe Wimpy VegetarianVegan Yack AttackVegetarian Mamma.

I didn’t get my stuff together early enough to host with them this month, but hopefully I will in April!

Here are the rest of the entries!:

Kale Apple and Pancetta Salad

Taken from Serious Eats

Print this recipe!

Serves 4-6

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces sliced pancetta, diced
1/4 cup Champagne vinegar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 small head radicchio, shredded
1 8-ounce bunch kale, stems discarded, leaves shredded
2 tart yet sweet apples, sliced into thick matchsticks
3/4 cup pecans, toasted if desired

Combine the olive oil and pancetta in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until pancetta is golden and crispy. Strain the pan drippings into a small bowl and leave the crispy pancetta off to the side to cool. Add the Champagne vinegar, maple syrup, salt and pepper and whisk well.

Combine the radicchio, kale, apples and pecans in a large bowl. Toss while adding the dressing, little by little, until salad is well dressed. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Garnish with crispy pancetta.


  1. Awesome recipe. I agree that the saltiness of the pancetta helps balance the flavors with the sweetness of the apples and pecan. I love that there is radicchio in here, too! Happy #greenslove!

  2. Oh, BIG yum!! I could see how the pancetta would light this salad on fire – and what a great contrast with the apple and toasted pecan… delish. The massage, yes, indeed…that’s a great reminder – I tend to gently sauté but the massage technique is a good one too especially when our men are not nearby ;-). Gorgeous salad Amy and I really like the photos too!

    • Thanks, Kelly, you always have such nice comments :) I think a gentle saute is the way to go with kale from now on…it’s a very tough green.

  3. I usually not a fan of raw kale too, but I’d be willing to give another try with these toppings. cheers!

    • I’m not usually a fan either but all the flavors made it much more palatable ;) I think I still might lightly cook it next time before mixing it with the rest of the ingredients though…

  4. amy, this salad looks FABULOUS. i love massaged kale salad. never thought about adding a touch of maple syrup to it! i love using avocado or evoo for mine :)

    • This one wasn’t actually massaged but could have benefited from it. I guess the warm dressing was supposed to soften it. I have to check out the rest of the #greenslove entries when I get a chance!

  5. Nicole@HeatOvenTo350

    I’m really liking the kale recipes I’ve seen so far, so I’m happy it’s the new super food. The massaging is a great idea and I want to try it some time.

  6. Beautiful Salad Amy!!!
    Such perfect blend of flavors…. I really enjoy apple in my salads.. I hardly eat them raw otherwise…LOL

  7. I’m really picky about leafy green textures but I shockingly really like massaged kale! The sweet and salty of the apple and pancetta sounds like this makes for a really delicious salad!

  8. I’ve oddly been craving pancetta lately, so thanks for the reminder that I need to cook with it soon. Of course I had something unhealthy in mind though, haha. Your salad sounds much lighter and better! I rarely cook with kale, but my roommate made kale chips the other week and they were absolutely delicious. Have you ever tried that? You literally just put the kale on a foiled cookie sheet, sprinkle with some olive oil, salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes and they come out as these light, crispy, salty ‘chips.’

    • Pancetta is amazing :) Let me know if you come up with an unhealthy recipe, because it will probably taste better than any salad ever could.

      I have made kale chips before! But it was back before they were all the rage, so I definitely have to give them another try now. Thanks for the tip!

  9. I pretty much love anything with pancetta, so I would be all over this. I am too lazy to massage kale haha so I would most prob lightly saute it instead :)

    • Hehe, pancetta makes everything better! I’m too lazy too massage it too. You could just not massage or saute…I just tossed it well with the dressing. You could make it a day ahead and leave the dressing sitting on it, then add pancetta before you eat :)

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