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 3 votes

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

Recipe Rating


Kale has been on my "to do list" for a long time, and a raw kale recipe sounds even more appealing to a salad lover.

Bogna@Pots and Frills

Great salad recipe! I loooove kale!


I've been afraid to try kale raw, but it sure looks delicious!

Jessica @ How Sweet

Kale salad prepared this way is one of my favorites, although I've never tried it with bread crumbs. It must add a nice texture.


Tuscan kale (cavolo nero) eaten raw is something that definitely inspires me even though I've always associated it with long-cooking preparations such as the traditional "ribollita" soup. One idea that has popped up in my head reading your post, is to use it to make a fresh winter pesto instead of basil. By the way, I fully agree with airline meals: it always, always sucks! I'm looking forward to reading your next posts about Rome.


I just made it now and am enjoying it for dinner with an egg salad sandwich (not the crappy kind). Gorgeous :)

Joe @ Eden Kitchen

I was just at the market and saw the most beautiful bunch for dinosaur kale and now I am kicking myself for not grabbing it. Your pecorino looks like its the *really* good stuff! My little brother lives in the city and has told me about his beloved cheese shop and lat time I went up north, we didn't have time to stop in and I'm kicking myself again. A lot of kicking going on here. lol. I think I'll need to add more lettuce/ kale salads to my recipe page. I often make salads and then don't write down what I put in them... and also do not take any pictures. Thank you for the inspiration Heidi!

Mary (What's Cookin' with Mary)

I"m still waiting for Melissa's book to arrive. So thanks for posting this recipe, which I think I'll make for guests coming for dinner on Sunday.


Inspiring! I hope to assimilate your craving for healthy food when I land in India nest month! Too many times I end up getting sick!


I've been eying Melissa Clark's new cookbook! This looks like such a healthy dinner. I like that everything you make is so nutritious. I feel healthy just looking at it.

Shaheen {The Purple Foodie}



oh yay! coming home is just the best, isn't it? even after a wonderful vacation, lousy air travel is just the punctuation you need to make home seem like the best place in the world. i am so glad for a new raw kale salad. it's sweet and in season right now. i can't get enough kale in my life. yum yum yum. thank you!


Fresh kale and Swiss chard are both showing up in our farmers markets right now. I usually saute mine with lots of garlic and olive oil but I really like your method of making the dressing and letting it wilt the salad a bit. The addition of lemon is probably a perfect touch. I am definitely going to give this a try.

Laura @ SweetSavoryPlanet

This salad looks soooooo wholesome and satisfying right now. I've been in the office all day and can't wait to get our of this stale air (the air con broke!) and go home and try this. Thanks :)

Joe @ Eden Kitchen

This sounds healthy and tasty! I've never made a kale salad -- it always finds its way into minestrone-style soups around these parts.

Coco @ Opera Girl Cooks

That sandwich and salad sound like the perfect lunch, especially with that poppy seed wheat bread. I've been hesitant to try a raw kale salad but this one sounds like it might change that.


Welcome home! :) This has nothing to do with your recipe, but I just wanted to tell you that, from what I can see on this blog and your flickr, there is a great sense of cohesion in your life. Your aesthetic tastes and artistic sensibilities are so consistent from your choice of dinnerware, your recipes, your photographs, and even your dinner table. It's beautiful. I love it.

Satpreet Kahlon

We are very glad that you made it home safe. I hate to travel that long but, it is nice to walk back into your own home. The salad looks wonderful and I know that you needed something easy and nutritious. I make this on very hot days and sometimes late at night for a snack. I can not wait until you share the rest of your trip with us but, take a little time to yourself and enjoy your surroundings again.


Oh i am so with you on the traveling part. Any flight over 8 hours take me about 24 hours to recover from. If there is more than 6+ hour time difference it takes me 3 days to recover. I usually end up needing a vacation from my vacation :) but most of the time i have to get right back to work it is hard. As far as Kale i am one of those that do not use it enough, i always substitue spinach for Kale, i don't know why but never bean a huge kale fan. Maybe i am not doing the right recipe. So i must give this salad a try. Thanks! And hope you are recovering.


I love kale. I use it in soups whenever I can - it is so healthy and so underused! Do you let the salad sit in order for the leaves to soften, or just for the flavors to marinate?

Liz from Simple Italian Cooking

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