Lemony Parmesan Kale Salad

April 29, 2022

Your new favorite summer salad has just arrived. My Lemony Parmesan Kale Salad is a bright, vibrant salad that tastes so delicious, you’ll actually forget that it’s healthy. 😉 This salad also happens to be gluten-free, grain-free, and uses only 8 simple and easy and ingredients, so it’s perfect to whip up any time!

A large bowl of the lemony garlic parmesan kale salad, with two forks sticking out of the bowl. Smaller bowls with the separate ingredients can be seen in the background.

Friends, how many of you have spent some time at the Whole Foods salad bar? It may not sound like the most exciting place in the world, but to be honest, I love it. In fact, not only is it a great way to throw together a healthy salad in a pinch, but their prepared salads are also so delicious. Specifically, one particular lemon-kale-parmesan salad that I used to eat at least once a week – true story. In fact, I loved this particular salad so much that I knew I needed to recreate it. And hence, this Lemony Parmesan Kale salad was born!

Even though we’re barely into Spring, I already know that this is going to be my new favorite salad of the Summer. It is so light and refreshing, I just know that it will be perfect to cool me down on those hot California days! Plus, the best part is that my boys love this salad too, so it’s something that the whole family can enjoy together. After all, who doesn’t love a dish that’s bursting with tons of lemon and fresh parmesan?!

Plus, it’s about time I bring another kale recipe to the blog. As the Kalejunkie, it’s only right that I provide you with the best kale salad recipes to make! Whether you make this one, my Hillstone Emerald Kale Salad, or my famous Ultimate Kale Salad with Creamy Tahini Lemon Dressing, you truly can’t go wrong.

A close up of the lemony garlic parmesan kale salad, untossed and sitting on a cutting board. A bowl of croutons, a small dish of salt, and some lemon rinds can be seen in the background.

What You Need to Make This Light, Vibrant Salad

As mentioned above, you only need 8 simple ingredients to put this summertime salad together!

  • Curly Kale: Of course, you need kale to make this kale salad! While you can truly use any variation of kale, I personally like curly kale. It softens beautifully, and makes for the perfect base for this salad!
  • Croutons: Pick your favorite store-bought croutons, or make my Homemade Garlic Sourdough Croutons for a simple, homemade twist!
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese: And this wouldn’t be a Lemony Parmesan Kale Salad without the parmesan! I recommend using freshly grated parmesan for the best flavor.
  • Olive Oil: Olive oil is my favorite oil to use in this salad, because it’s full of healthy fats and adds the best flavor. But, you could also use avocado oil, if you prefer!
  • Lemon Juice: Lemon juice helps to break up the kale, and also adds that delicious, lemony flavor.
  • Garlic: Fresh garlic is always best, and in this recipe you’ll need three full garlic cloves!
  • Sea Salt & Black Pepper: A little salt and pepper are necessary for any good salad recipe! I especially recommend fresh cracked black pepper for the best flavor. 🙂
All of the ingredients needed to make this lemony garlic parmesan kale salad, laid out on a cutting board

The Key to Making the Perfect Kale, Every Time

Since my name is Kalejunkie, I hear so often from people that they wish they could like kale, but they just can’t get themselves to like it. And if that’s you, then trust me when I say that understand! On its own, kale can be rather bland, and sometimes hard to digest. And that is why the trick to making your kale perfect every time is to massage it!

This step is so easy, and truly makes your kale taste so much better. To massage it, simply start by removing the stems and chopping the kale into your desired size. Next, rinse it thoroughly, then place it in a bowl. Finally, add about a teaspoon or so of sea salt to the kale, and use your hands to massage it into the leaves, until they start to soften. This should only take about a minute or two!

By manually massaging it, you’re helping to break up some of the tough fibers, making it softer and easier for your body to digest!

A big bowl of the lemony garlic parmesan kale salad

How to Make This Summery Kale Salad

To make this kale salad, simply start by preparing and massaging your kale as described above.

Then, chop or crush your croutons finely and add them to the bowl. Once that is done, prepare the dressing by mixing the remainder of the ingredients together in a small bowl, and adjust the seasonings as desired.

Finally, toss the dressing, along with the parmesan cheese, into the bowl and mix well to combine. Serve immediately, or store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2-3 days. Enjoy!

If you make this recipe, please be sure to leave a review and rating below! And, since I practically live on Instagram, be sure to tag me in your creations so that I can repost them! xx

** Photography by Gayle McLeod
A large bowl of the lemony garlic parmesan kale salad, with two forks sticking out of the bowl. Smaller bowls with the separate ingredients can be seen in the background.
gluten-free/Grain Free/Refined Sugar Free

Lemony Parmesan Kale Salad

5 from 4 votes
Nicole Modic
Prep Time 15 mins
Total Time 15 mins
SERVES 6 Servings
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Your new favorite summer salad has just arrived. My Lemony Parmesan Kale Salad is a bright, vibrant salad that tastes so delicious, you'll actually forget that it's healthy. 😉 This salad also happens to be gluten-free, grain-free, and uses only 8 simple and easy and ingredients, so it's perfect to whip up any time!

Ingredients

  • 2 Bunches Curly Kale
  • 1 Cup Croutons
  • 1/2 Cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper

Instructions

  • Start by preparing the kale; remove and discard the stems, then wash the leaves thoroughly with water and place in a bowl.
  • Next, add about 1 teaspoon of sea salt to the kale and use your hands to massage the salt into the kale, until it begins to soften. This should take about 1-2 minutes.
  • Next, chop or crush your croutons finely and add them to the bowl.
  • The, prepare the dressing, by mixing together the remaining ingredients (the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and black pepper) in a small bowl until they're fully combined.
  • Pour the dressing on top of the salad, along with the grated parmesan cheese, and toss to fully combine.
  • Serve immediately, or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2-3 days. Enjoy!

Did you make this recipe?

I’d love to see what you made – tag @kalejunkie
in your posts and I’ll re-share!

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  1. 5 stars
    This is honestly the best salad I have had in a long time and also my new favorite. I love the flavors with lemon, garlic and parm cheese it is the perfect mix. Thanks for the tip about massaging the kale with the salt it worked perfectly.

    • Natasha, I am so thrilled to hear that! Thank you so much for making this recipe, and for leaving such a kind review!!

  2. 5 stars
    This salad seems so simple, but it is SO good. Crushing the croutons is such a game changer. I’ve been following you and making your recipes for years, and you nail it every time. Thanks for what you do! 🙂

    • Woohoo! Colleen, I am so thrilled that you loved this recipe! Thank you so much for making it, and for leaving such a sweet review!