Massaged Kale Salad with Pears, Walnut, and Parmigiano-Reggiano

Spoil your dinner! A brief rubdown with some salt and pepper takes kale from bitter to sweet.

kale, pear, and walnut salad

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man holding pears from Alhambra Valley Beef and Pears

For this kale recipe we had the privilege of using French butter pears, an heirloom variety from Alhambra Valley Beef & Pears in Walnut Creek, California.

women holding pears from Alhambra Valley Beef and Pears

One reason we at Cookin’ the Market love this farm so much is because they practice dry farming methods, which basically means that the farmers don’t water their crops. As a result, the fruits are packed with sugars and aren’t diluted with excess water. Be sure to check out the dry farmed produce options at your local market.

[Daryl, left, and Helen and Judy, right, of Alhambra Valley Beef & Pears. Photos by Anna Buss.]

Massaged Kale Salad with Pears, Walnut, and Parmigiano-Reggiano
(Serves 4-6)

kale, pear, and walnut salad


  • 1 bunch dinosaur kale
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice from ½ lemon
  • 2 French butter pears
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • ¼ cup grated parmigiano-reggiano*


  1. Tear kale leaves away from stem. Stack leaves on cutting board largest to smallest and roll them up like a burrito. Cut rolled kale into a chiffonade (or finely cut ribbons).
  2. Set kale chiffonade in mixing bowl. Add dash of salt and pepper, and massage kale with hands. (Do this until kale is tender and turns a deeper shade of green.)
  3. Add just enough olive oil to coat greens and a splash of fresh lemon juice.
  4. Dice or slice the pear and disperse pieces among kale leaves. Chop walnuts and sprinkle them in as well. Garnish with parmigiano-reggiano.
  5. Taste. Correct. Serve.

*Chef’s recommendation: If you want to get extra fancy with your garnish you can serve this salad with parmesan-reggiano crisps. Bring a nonstick pan to medium-high heat, then lay thin layers of parmesan-reggiano in pan. When they begin to bubble, peel away with rubber spatula and flip. When bottoms become golden in color (about 30 seconds), remove from pan and let cool. Crumble over kale salad.

Recipe created by Mario Hernandez, program coordinator and market chef for Cookin’ the Market

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