Lemon Parmesan Kale Salad – Kalyn’s Kitchen

posted by Kalyn Denny on September 9, 2010

This tasty Lemon Parmesan Kale Salad marinates a while in the dressing, which tames down the kale and adds amazing flavor! The salad is also delicious with Pecorino-Romano cheese if you happen to have some of that.

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Lemon Parmesan Kale Salad in serving bowl with lemons in background

For quite a few years I was growing kale in my garden. I started with Red Russian Kale, a milder variety that’s good for salads, and I loved it in Kale and Red Cabbage Slaw. Then one year I grew dark green curly leaf kale, and after I heard about kale salads with dark green kale on several food blogs, I decided to try it. I used the smaller leaves of kale when I had kale from my garden to make this, which I recommend, or buy baby kale if you find it at the store.

I loved the kale salad and the hour of marinating time really softens the texture and flavor of the kale, but I’d say this salad with raw kale is only for people who at least like the slightly bitter flavor of dark greens. I mentioned to my neighbor that I’d made a Lemon Parmesan Kale Salad that’s marinated for an hour before you eat it, and she had the idea of serving this mixed with some other types of lettuce, which I think would also be good for people who aren’t crazy about kale like I am!

What ingredients do you need for this salad?

  • kale leaves
  • coarsely grated Parmesan cheese
  • fresh-squeezed lemon juice, I used my fresh-frozen lemon juice
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

What type of kale did I use?

I originally used the smaller leaves of regular curly green kale from my garden to make this, which I recommend if you have garden kale. Now I’d love this salad with baby kale or Red Russian Kale, and any kale variety you like the flavor of raw could be used in the salad.

Is the Kale really marinated with the Parmesan?

In this interesting salad the kale and Parmesan is marinated together for an hour with the lemony dressing. That adds amazing flavor. I kept out a little bit of the shaved Parmesan and sprinkled it over the finished salad when I served it.

Lemon Parmesan Kale Salad process shots collage

How to make Lemon Parmesan Kale Salad:

(Scroll down for complete recipe with nutritional information.)

  1. I used baby kale which didn’t need to be washed. (If you’re using regular leaves kale, wash kale leaves in the salad spinner, then thinly sliced it. If you have larger kale leaves, cut away the stems before you slice the kale.)
  2. Measure out a generous amount of coarsely-grated or shaved Parmesan or Pecorino-Romano cheese.
  3. Then toss the kale with most of the cheese, reserving a little to go on the salad when you serve it.
  4. Whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil. Use a wooden or plastic spoon to toss the kale with the dressing, rubbing with the spoon so some oil is “massaged” into the kale.
  5. After salad marinates for one hour, stir, season to taste with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, sprinkle with reserved cheese, and serve.

close-up photo of Lemon Parmesan Kale Salad in serving dish with lemons in background

More Salad Recipes with Kale:

Kale and Red Cabbage Slaw
Baby Kale Salad with Apples
Arugula, Kale, and Gorgonzola Salad
Baby Kale Caprese Salad


  • 10 oz. raw kale leaves or baby kale
  • 1/2 cup coarsely grated or shaved Parmesan cheese (see notes)
  • 3 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 T extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste, for serving


  1. Wash kale leaves if needed and spin dry or dry with paper towel. If the kale has thick ribs, cut them away, then slice into ribbons about 1/2 inch thick.
  2. Put kale into a plastic or glass salad bowl. Add most of the coarsely grated cheese, and toss.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil.
  4. Pour over kale and cheese, then use a large wooden spoon or plastic spoon to stir the salad, “massaging” the dressing into the kale leaves so they’re all well coated with dressing.
  5. Let salad sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
  6. After salad marinates for one hour, stir, season to taste with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, sprinkle with reserved cheese, and serve.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving:

Calories: 162Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 14mgSodium: 421mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 7g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated by the Recipe Plug-In I am using. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee 100% accuracy, since many variables affect those calculations.

Lemon Parmesan Kale Salad thumbnail image of salad in serving bowl with lemons in background

Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
This nutritious Lemon Parmesan Kale Salad would be a good side dish salad for low-carb eating plans or for any phase of the original South Beach Diet. You might want to use a bit less cheese if you’re strictly following South Beach.

Find More Recipes Like This One:
Check out Salad Recipes for more tasty salads like this one! Use the Diet Type Index to find recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You can also Follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.

Historical Notes for this Recipe:
This salad was first posted in 2010. It was last updated with better photos and more information in 2021.

Lemon Parmesan Kale Salad Pinterest image

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Article Categories:
Easy to Cook · Favorites · Leafy Greens · Recipes · Salads

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