Advice For Impatient Foodies: HTF Do You Actually Massage Kale?

Welcome to Advice For Impatient Foodies, R29's new cooking column. Each week, our executive food editor and Impatient Foodie founder Elettra Wiedemann will tackle any and all questions you might have about food. Seriously, no query is too big or too small. And don't be embarrassed! We've all had moments in the kitchen when we had no idea WTF was going on and wished we could ask someone other than Google for some pointers. So whether you need help frying an egg, knowing when your chicken is done, or deciding what to make for dinner, we've got your back.
Photographed by Janelle Jones.
How do you ACTUALLY massage kale?
The first time I read a recipe that instructed me to "massage" the kale, I was like, WHAT? My salad gets a massage? When do I get a massage?

Grumpiness and whining aside, I now know that massaging kale is an important step to take if you're planning on eating it raw. Without massaging the leaves beforehand, you'll end up chewing for a comical (or more likely annoying) amount of time, plus the kale will taste quite bitter. So the role of that massage is really two-fold:

1. To soften the leaves to make them more enjoyable and easier to eat.

2. To help release the sugars within the leaves to balance their bitter flavor with some sweetness.

So, here's how to give your greens a good rubdown: Be sure the kale is laying comfortably on a flat surface. Light some candles, set some quiet ambient music in the background...PSYCH. I am totally kidding.

Just rip the leafy part of the kale off of the rib (discard the ribs), place the leaves in a large bowl, pour a couple glugs of olive oil on top, plus a pinch of salt, and gently knead the leaves for about 3-5 minutes, similar to how you would knead dough.

Remember, though, that the goal is to just soften the leaves, so don't knead them to the point that they look like sautéed spinach, okay?

If the idea of massaging your kale sounds like such a major drag you can't even deal, you can also just combine the raw kale leaves (ribs removed) with olive oil and a little squeeze of lemon, and let them soften overnight in the fridge.

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