Shredded kale salad with currants & pine nuts

This salad is so good that I challenge you not to eat it all before getting to the table. I ate it standing up with a wooden spoon, but that may be in part due to the fact that for the past week I’ve eaten about as healthily as a college senior during exam week.

I’m sure when people think of food bloggers they imagine endless rustic tables laden with heaping bowls of just-ripe fruit and berries. But when you’re camping out in a strange kitchen with no AC in the 95° weather, you find yourself sinking to new and creative lows.

For example, taking a trip to Rite Aid just to bask in the frigid air. Or a eating a dinner of chips, salsa, and ice cream from the carton while watching Friends in bed.

So you can imagine how it felt to return home to the Berkshires, where freshly cut kale doused with vinaigrette and sprinkled with toasted pine nuts awaited me.

When it comes to kale salads, I’m almost always disappointed. The wunderkind of trendy vegetables for the past few years, kale is actually quite tricky to get right. I’m still mourning the time I decided to put a huge handful of Trader Joe’s pre-cut (mostly stalks) into a smoothie. It was like drinking a liter of liquified chalk.

Here are the best kale salads I’d ever had before this one: The first, my best friend’s mom made in a rental house in South Carolina—she massaged the kale with lemon and olive oil (that’s it!) and let it sit until it was as soft as lettuce and utterly delicious.

The second is from Mei Mei, my favorite restaurant in Boston. Theirs is full of crumbly feta, crispy panko breadcrumbs, and topped with an oozy poached egg.

This one is my mom’s invention and falls perfectly in between. The tangy garlic of the dressing balances the warmth of currants and pine nuts. The flowers are marigolds, which are both edible and gorgeous!

For the dressing

  • 1 large clove of garlic, mashed
  • 1 heaping t dijon mustard
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 T white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 C good quality olive oil
  1. Place the garlic, mustard, salt and vinegar into a medium sized mixing bowl.
  2. Whisk the contents in the bowl with your dominant hand while steadily pouring in the  olive oil in a thin stream with your other hand. This will allow the dressing to emulsify.

For the salad:

  • 1 large bunch Lacinato kale, stems removed
  • 1/2 C pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 2 heaping T small dried currants
  • A handful of marigold petals for decoration (optional)
  1. Roll the stemless kale leaves into a cigar shape and chop them into long thin ribbons.
  2. Toss kale with currants, pine nuts, and salad dressing. Top with marigold petals and let sit 5 minutes before serving.




  1. Katie Carlone says

    This looks amazing! I’ve had my own failures with kale but you’ve inspired me to give it another try. One question I have: do I need to message the kale, and if so, what does that look like – rubbing it in the dressing? Or does cutting it so thinly replace the need for that? Thanks Little Sister!!!

    • Grace Mendel says

      Thank you, Katie! In my opinion, shredding the kale as thinly as possible has a similar effect, but a little massaging never hurts! I usually do it with my hands after I’ve dressed the salad but before adding anything else. It’s very messy but also strangely satisfying 🙂

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