Tangelo, Olive, and Kale Salad with Citrus Dressing

bowl of kale and citrus salad sitting on a wood table

This Tangelo, Olive and Kale Salad with Citrus Dressing is the perfect cusp-season salad, savoring the transition between winter and spring! Get the recipe here!

bowl filled with kale and citrus salad sits on a towel on a marble counter

I like to think of this kale salad as a cusp-season salad, perfect for straddling the transition time between winter and spring. The ingredients of citrus and kale are reminiscent of the darker winter days, but the preparation of massaging and serving it cold channels spring.

I wish I could claim credit for this concept, but raw kale salads have been around for, well, probably as long as hipsters have been claiming to have discovered kale. My first experience with a massaged kale salad was about 10 years ago, when a friend came by for dinner and we created an ad-hoc meal from whatever I had growing in the yard.

When she called, I had rattled off the produce I had available, including kale, which she proclaimed “great, we’ll make a massaged salad”, then got off the phone (obviously, this was 10 years ago. Now, this would have been over text message, complete with kale emoticon [Is there a kale emoticon? There should be.]). I watched with fascination as she added the kale to a bowl with lemon and olive oil, working it with her hands until the leaves were softened and tender.

Normally, I eat kale sauteed or slow cooked in soups. But, with increasing daylight and warmer days, the slow cooking of winter had lost its interest. I was ready for the lighter and cooler fare of spring.

My own kale had long been infected with aphids and gone to feed the hens, but I picked up a bunch of kale from the farmer’s market, and citrus was still well stocked at the coop I shop at. So when I was flipping through The Book of Greens by Jenn Louis, I was inspired by her Minneola and Kale Salad recipe. With temperatures in the 80s, this adaptation has been one of the many cold salads I’ve been enjoying this week!

bowl of three orange tangelos sit on a wood table

pan of freshly washed green kale sit on a wood table

Massaging Kale

First time massaging kale? I get it, it’s a little weird. But stop and enjoy this moment of slow food preparation, and the tangible action of working your food!

It can be hard to tell when it’s “done”, but that’s up to your personal preference. I like my kale quite soft and can tell it’s ready when juices run green when I squeeze it. I recommend tasting throughout the massaging process to discover what you like best! Usually a three-minute massage with yield a great kale salad.

salad dressing being made on a wood table

Notes About the Citrus and the Citrus Dressing Recipe

I used tangelos, a type of citrus that is a cross between an orange and a tangerine. They show up later in the citrus season and were on sale at my natural food store. They look like an orange but a bit darker in skin color and have a rounded nose on one end. Can’t find tangelos? Use whatever sweet citrus you have- oranges, mandarins, tangerines, and I bet even red grapefruit would be great.

I used the same tangelo to yield both the zest for the dressing and for the salad. I recommend cutting into wheels then using a sharp knife to pare off the skin instead of trying to peel.

bowl of kale and citrus salad sitting on a wood table

Tangelo, Olive, and Kale Salad with Citrus Dressing

Yield: 2, as lunch or a side dish

bowl of kale and citrus salad sitting on a wood table


    For Salad:
  • about 3 cups lacinato kale (from 1 bunch), stemmed and cut into 1/4" ribbons
  • about 12 black oil cured olives, pitted if needed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons dressing
  • 1 tangelo (or orange), peeled and sliced into wheels or segmented
  • 1/4 cup almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
    For Dressing:
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • about 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/4 finely chopped preserved lemon (see note)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil


    Make Dressing
  • Combine vinegar, lemon juice, honey, zest and preserved lemon in a jar. Add olive oil. Shake well to combine. Use about 2 tablespoons of dressing for Kale Salad, storing the remainder in the fridge for future use.
    Make Salad
  • Combine shallot, kale and dressing into a bowl. Using your hands, mix together and massage, squeezing and rubbing the kale to soften the texture.
  • To serve, toss kale, olive and citrus together. Top with almonds. If needed, drizzle with additional dressing.


adapted from The Book of Greens, by Jenn Louis

Don't have preserved lemon? No problem. Instead, add the zest of about a half a lemon and a 1/4 teaspoon salt. Looking for a more substantial meal? Throw in some leftover roasted chicken or baked tofu!


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1 Comment

  • Reply
    April 4, 2018 at 2:57 pm

    Reporting back on the nettle soup: it was A+! Also good with a bunch of wilted spinach forgotten in the crisper 🙂 Can’t wait to try this salad. Thanks for sharing!

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