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Giving Kale a Rubdown

By Cook's Illustrated Published November 2012

Here’s a way to tenderize these greens without ever subjecting them to heat.

Once just a garnish, raw kale has become a star addition to salads. While we love the bright, nutty flavor of the uncooked vegetable, unless we’re using hard-to-find baby kale, its texture can be a little tough. Here’s a way to tenderize these greens without ever subjecting them to heat: After removing the ribs, cut the leaves into 1/4-inch ribbons and “massage” them. Kneading and squeezing breaks down the kale’s cell walls much the way that heat does, darkening the leaves and turning them silky. We found that it takes a rubdown of at least 5 minutes to soften 1 bunch of coarse green curly kale, but the more delicate leaves of Tuscan kale (also known as dinosaur or Lacinato kale) or red kale need just a minute of massaging.