How to Make a Perfect Kale Salad Every Time

Think you hate kale salad? Think again! The secret to any GREAT kale salad recipe is the pre-dressing massage! A sprinkle of coarse salt and fresh lemon juice work together with the pressure of your massaging hands to soften sturdy kale leaves like magic in this Kale Salad with Red Grapes, Walnuts, and Feta recipe from the Wine Country Table from the California Wine Institute!

{{ Our post and the kale salad recipe that goes with it was made in partnership with California WinesWe received compensation and product in exchange for it. Opinions are always our own. If we don’t love it, you don’t hear about it. Thanks for your continued support! }}

Kale Salad with Red Grapes, Walnuts, and Feta in 2 bowls with glasses of red wine ready to serve

Seriously, I’m not even kidding the secret to a great kale salad is the pre-dressing massage!

You are basically going to be massaging the lemon juice and salt into the kale leaves until your hands hurt! You want those kale leaves to breakdown until they are reduced in size by at least half.

This one – two – salt / lemon punch acts as a tenderizer that allows the flavors of the dressing to absorb into the kale leaves for maximum flavor and tenderness! 

A close up of a Kale Salad recipe with feta, dill, walnuts, and red grapes

This Kale Salad with Red Grapes, Walnuts, and Feta is a flavor packed show stopper!

This kale salad recipe comes together in three simple parts.

All 3 of these steps are simple on their own, but when they are mixed together they create a combination of complex flavors that really makes this kale salad a superstar!

  • 1. Make the kale salad base by combining aggressively massaged kale with dill, green onions, red seedless grapes, garlic and olive oil.
  • 2. Set aside the kale salad base for 15-30 minutes so that the flavors can marinate and the kale leaves can take on the flavors of the other ingredients.
  • 3. Just before serving toss the marinated kale base with thinly sliced romaine, feta cheese, and toasted walnuts.  

Here are a few of our favorite sustainable wines from California that pair perfectly with this kale salad! 

Julia’s Vineyard Rose from Cambria Winery next to a bowl of kale salad

Julia’s Vineyard Rose from Cambria Winery.

This Rosé of Pinot Noir has pronounced aromas of white peach, strawberry, and citrus. The palate is medium-bodied, with balancing and refreshing acidity, leading to a finish that expresses watermelon and grapefruit. A summer favorite, perfect for brunch or a picnic. 

Kale salad being served into a salad bowl. A bottle of GEN5 Zinfandel is in the background

GEN5 Zinfandel 2017

GEN5 is a Zinfandel from Lodi, California with lush and juicy black and blueberries and a note of spice and licorice, with a lush mouthfeel.

What is sustainable wine exactly?

A glass of red, GEN5 Zinfandel 2017, being poured

It’s really super easy to understand, sustainable wines are made from grapes that were grown with good growing practices in wineries that make sustainable choices for the environment, their workers and their community. 

If you are curious about how to select sustainable wine pairings, it’s actually really easy! The best way is to start by looking for California or its growing regions right on the label. 

The state of California produces just over 80% of the wine made in the United States! And over 80% of the wine produced in California comes from a certified sustainable winery.

Which means sustainable wines are everywhere, you just have to know what to look for!

A copy of The Wine Country Table by Janet Fletcher

Want to try other recipes from The Wine Country Table cookbook? 

This kale salad recipe comes from Janet Fletcher’s cookbook, The Wine Country Table. This book is chock-full of 50 delicious recipes and gorgeous imagery from 23 stunning California farms and wineries.

I personally cook from this cookbook ALL the time! The recipes are all very well tested and each one we have tried has been met with stellar reviews from my family. Below are some of the ones that really blew us away!

A baking dish of roasted chicken thighs

Roast Chicken with Lemons, Paprika, and Olives

Spain’s aromatic pimentón de la Vera (smoked paprika) gives these succulent chicken thighs a deep, ruddy color. They roast on a bed of red onion and sliced Meyer lemon. You’ll want to serve every drop of the lemony, garlicky pan juices.

A close up image of a shallow blue and cream colored bowl filled with noodles coated in a bright green kale pesto. There are walnuts and grated cheese on top.

Walnut Kale Pesto

This pesto is a lifesaver recipe and helps me clear my crisper drawer full of overlooked greens quite frequently. It is also a fresh, welcome update to its sometimes overplayed, classic counterpart – basil pesto.

Have you made this Kale Salad recipe? It would be so great if you would rate the recipe and let me know what you think in the comments below!

Follow @THISMESSISOURS on FACEBOOKINSTAGRAMTWITTERTIKTOKYOUTUBE, or PINTEREST to see cooking demos, behind the scenes recipe tests, and peeks into our day to day life on our homestead.

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
A bowl of Kale Salad with Red Grapes, Walnuts, and Feta

Kale Salad Recipe with Red Grapes, Walnuts, and Feta

  • Author: Slightly adapted from Wine Country Table by Janet Fletcher
  • Prep Time: 40 min
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Massaged
  • Cuisine: Vegetarian
  • Diet: Gluten Free


Don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know what you think about this Kale Salad Recipe in the comments below, I just love hearing from you and your reviews/comments really help other people that visit This Mess is Ours! 



1/4 pound curly kale leaves, no ribs, coarsely chopped

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, plus more if needed

Coarse kosher or sea salt

2 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 cup halved red seedless grapes 

1 green onions, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced or finely chopped

1 tablespoon minced fresh dill

1/4 teaspoon grated garlic

1 small romaine heart, about 1/4 pound, halved lengthwise and very thinly sliced crosswise. 

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

2 ounces feta, finely crumbled


Massage the kale


In a large bowl, combine the kale, lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Massage the kale kneading it vigorously with your hands for a couple minutes to soften it. It will shrink in volume. 


Add the olive oil, grapes, green onions, dill, and garlic. Toss well with a fork and let the kale relax for 15 to  30 minutes. 


 Assemble the kale salad


Just before serving, stir in the romaine, walnuts, and feta. Toss well, then taste and adjust the seasoning with salad and lemon juice if needed. Serve immediately. 


I slightly adapted this recipes amounts for garlic, dill, and green onions as we found the flavor profile a bit too pungent for our liking. Here are the original amount of those ingredients in case you want to give the original version of the recipe a try. 


2 green onions white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced or finely chopped

1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill

1 small clove garlic, peeled and grated. 


The instructions in the cookbook for the garlic are as follows:

With a  rasp grater, add a few scrapings of garlic, or add a pinch of finely minced garlic. 

Keywords: kale recipe. kale salad recipe, kale salad, best kale salad, easy kale salad

Recipe Card powered byTasty Recipes

Frequently Asked Questions

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe rating