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Vegetarian Recipes

Roasted Sweet Potato, Pomegranate and Massaged Kale Salad

Roasted Sweet Potato, Pomegranate, and Massaged Kale Salad
There is something about a hearty salad that makes my taste buds swoon! The firework flavors of this fall-inspired massaged kale salad–silky, sweet kale with roasted sweet potatoes, salty pepitas, creamy goat cheese and tart pomegranate seeds–does just that.

Kale is a hearty, nutrient-dense veggie that can withstand cold weather, and it has become one of my go-to greens for fall salads. As with a lot of winter greens, it has a bitter bite, but massaging it imparts a nice slightly sweet flavor.

Now, maybe you are wondering, “Why and how do I go about treating my kale to a massage?” It’s so easy and really makes a world of difference in the flavor and texture of your salad. When you take a few extra minutes to show your kale a little love, it loosens right up and shows you its sweeter side.

Let me show you how!

How to Massage Kale

Remove the tough part of the stem from each kale leaf. The stem at the top is tender, so I leave about 1/4-inch of the rib at the top of the leaf and discard the rest.

How to Massage Kale

Stack leaves on top of each other, then roll them tightly into a bundle.

How to Massage Kale

Slice the roll of kale leaves into ribbons–about 1/2-inch thick is a good size.

How to Massage Kale

Place the shredded kale in a large bowl or pan and add 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Your pile of kale will start off huge, but will shrink by at least half after massaging.

How to Massage Kale

Use your hands to gently massage the lemon juice and salt into the kale. Rub fistfuls of kale together, gently squeeze, then repeat. It can take anywhere between 3 to 5 minutes for the kale leaves to darken and shrink down in size, and for the texture to become silky smooth.

How to Massage Kale

Once the kale has visibly changed and has no bitterness left when you taste it, drizzle in 1/2 tablespoon olive oil.

How to Massage Kale

Massage another 30 seconds or so, just to mix in the oil. Now the tough texture and bitter flavor that makes so many people hate raw kale is gone!

Roasted Sweet Potato, Pomegranate, and Massaged Kale Salad

Roasted sweet potatoes join up with tender massaged kale and creamy goat cheese in this wholesome jewel-toned salad.
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4 servings


For the salad:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes scrubbed and cut into 1/4-inch thick rounds
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil divided
  • 1 tablespoon + 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt divided
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cups sliced Lacinato kale about 1-2 bunches, depending on size
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup roasted salted pepitas
  • 1/4 heaping cup pomegranate arils

For the Pomegranate Vinaigrette:

  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pinch of sugar


  • Preheat the oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, toss the sweet potatoes with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, 1 tablespoon salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste. Arrange the seasoned sweet potatoes in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. (If your sweet potatoes are very large you may have to roast them on two separate sheet pans to avoid overcrowding the pan.) Transfer the baking sheets to the oven and bake until tender, 25-30 minutes.
  • While the potatoes are roasting, make the dressing. Add all of the vinaigrette ingredients to a jar with an airtight lid. Seal tightly and shake vigorously until emulsified. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl or rimmed sheet pan, combine the shredded kale, 1/2 teaspoon salt and lemon juice. Use your hands to gently massage the kale until it wilts and darkens in color, 3-5 minutes. It should have no bitterness when you take a test bite. Drizzle the kale with remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil and toss to distribute.
  • Place the massaged kale on a large platter, arrange the roasted sweet potatoes on top and sprinkle with the goat cheese crumbles, pepitas and pomegranate arils. Serve with the dressing on the side.


I used a combination of orange and white sweet potatoes in this particular salad. You can use both or just one type if you prefer. White sweet potatoes are usually slightly milder in flavor than the orange.
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  • Reply
    Anjanee @ Fig & Honey
    October 13, 2014 at 9:47 am

    The colors are so beautiful in this salad! I’ve treated my kale to a massage in the past but never for this long. Will have to try your method and I’m sure the taste and texture will be just so much better!

  • Reply
    Samantha @FerraroKitchen
    October 13, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    These are some of my favorite flavors!! Gorgeous!

  • Reply
    Liz @ Floating Kitchen
    October 13, 2014 at 10:59 pm

    What an absolutely gorgeous salad. This looks perfect for the holidays. Love those colors!

  • Reply
    Brian @ A Thought For Food
    October 14, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    SO so so lovely. I’m glad I’m not the only one who is ready to put pomegranate on top of everything. I’m obsessed.

  • Reply
    Shirley Robertson
    October 14, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    This looks really tasty! Never massaged kale so will give it a go!!

  • Reply
    October 14, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    This looks delicious! I always seem to have kale knocking about in the fridge, and am constantly looking for new things to do with it. Yum yum 🙂

  • Reply
    Joanne Bruno
    October 15, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    I think massaged kale is my favorite way to eat kale! It makes for the best salads. Especially when tossed with one of my favorite orange veggies! YUM.

  • Reply
    December 30, 2018 at 8:30 pm

    LOVED this SO much! To speed up the sweet potato, I diced it and baked it at 425. Outrageously delicious, colorful and nutritious. Made it for a holiday brunch. Served with whole-wheat pumpkin waffles, spicy Italian sausage and a citrus and mint salad.

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