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Winter guacamole salad with massaged kale

2013 January 21

Are you tired of kale yet? I sure hope not. Kale still grows in abundance in Ohio, and is the star of our winter farmers’ markets. Grocery stores have hopped on board, too, and varieties of kale occupy two full racks in the greens section.

Oh! I bought a juicer. I’m so excited! (It arrives tomorrow — yay for Amazon Prime!) As a devoted fan of green smoothies, I’m looking forward to expanding my liquid veggie repertoire. Unlike smoothies, the juice from straight-up juiced vegetables can be stored in the fridge for a day or two without effect. That means I can juice in the evenings and take a big Thermos full (kept cold by juice ice cubes) to work and have veggie goodness nearby at all times — the antidote to the deluge of the ickiest of icky fast food restaurants that surround my office building. (Technically, a smoothie can be safely stored overnight, of course, but it tends to separate. And the smoothie — whatever color it was in its fresh, foamy state, green or purple — turns brown and somehow gritty. It really needs a blender to be revived.)

(I’ll be sure to fess up and report if the appliance gets relegated to the back of a cabinet.)

Anyway, we’re in the second half of January now — can you believe it? — and I still have warm-fuzzy feelings for kale. And spinach. Kale and spinach. Winter’s green super heroes.

I’ve had non-stop salad cravings since summer ended. I know how strange that sounds — who craves salads? I swear it’s true. Spinach or massaged kale topped with juicy veggies, and sometimes grains like quinoa or barley or freekeh. (What, you’ve never heard of the ancient grain, freekeh? Stay tuned, I’ll be posting about it shortly. And I will try my very best to restrain myself from painfully obvious word plays on “freekeh.”)

But this salad is one of my favorites. Guacamole, deconstructed, and served over kale that’s been massaged until sweet and silky. (Tough and fibery, massaging kale with your fingertips makes it easier to digest raw.)

A light citrus vinaigrette with fresh blood orange and lemon juices, plus lots of cilantro from my winter garden, is the perfect complement to this salad. The oranges are just gorgeous in January. Gorgeous. Yes, they came from afar, but I make the carbon-footprint exception for both citrus and avocados. How could I not?

(I am trying to do my part, though. I bought a dwarf blood orange tree last year, which is huddling right now in my garage, poor thing. It didn’t bloom this year, though — I suspect it was a year younger than the nursery claimed. Crossed-fingers for next year.)

I raided my freezer and snatched some summer preserves of silver queen corn and sweet bell peppers. True, they’re not traditional guacamole ingredients, but trust me, they fit right in like life-long friends.

Tip for buying winter tomatoes: Avoid the Florida-grown, perfectly round, weakly red cue balls. (Sorry, Florida: I love ya, just not your tomatoes or the industrial ag installations that grow them there (see Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit.)

Cherry and grape tomatoes aren’t bad in the winter. I bought greenhouse-grown Maine tomatoes at Whole Foods that were actually pretty good (and those are the very ones that went into this salad).

If you want to avoid winter tomatoes altogether, used canned diced tomatoes. Drain the liquid (save for other purposes – it would be great in a soup), and then rinse and drain the dices again, to wash off any salt or additives.

Better yet: you preserved some homegrown diced tomatoes last September? Perfect. Nothing like fresh, tomatoey flavors in a winter salad to bring back memories of the summer sun on one’s face.

Winter guacamole salad with massaged kale


  • for the salad:
  • 6-7 kale leaves, thick stems removed (I used lacinto/dinosaur kale)
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 small avocado, diced
  • fresh lime juice (from about 1/2 lime)
  • 3-6 cherry or grape tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 corn (thawed, if frozen)
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, minced (about 6 stems)
  • salt
  • for the citrus-cilantro vinaigrette:
  • 2 tablespoons fresh blood orange juice (about 1/2 of an orange)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 of a medium lemon)
  • 1 tablepoon white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon minced cilantro


  1. for the salad: In a large bowl, tear the kale into bite-sized pieces. Drizzle with just a touch of olive and sprinkle very lightly with salt. Use your fingertips to rub the leaves, working in the oil and the salt. Keep massaging until the kale is soft and silky, and has turned a brighter green. Toss the avocado dices with lime juice and a big pinch of salt. Add the avocado, tomatoes, peppers, corn, green onions, and cilantro to the kale and toss well.
  2. for the vinaigrette: Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad and serve.
Prep Time: 20 minutes         Yield: 2 servings


9 Responses
  1. Kimberly permalink
    January 22, 2013

    I love kale and avocados…yum! I was looking at juicers over the weekend? I have a breville but its starting to leak…I am not sure why but it is definitely not working as well. What type of juicer did you purchase?

    • Karen @ Leaf & Grain permalink*
      January 22, 2013

      Sadly, I don’t think your experience is unusual (not because of the Breville brand, just because that’s where they head … to Leaksville). I purchased a Hurom Slow Juicer. After a lohhhhot of consideration, I decided to spring for a masticating juicer rather than a centrifugal. I want to try nut milks and such – I’m completely fascinated by the idea of pistachio milk – which I don’t think centrifugals can handle. It just arrived – I can’t wait to dig in!

  2. January 22, 2013

    It’s so funny you mention the “cue ball tomatoes.” My parents always called those pink-ish tasteless tomatoes tennis balls. Hard and no flavor! I can’t wait for summer tomatoes!

    • Karen @ Leaf & Grain permalink*
      January 22, 2013

      Summer tomatoes are never far from my thoughts, especially in the winter! I can’t wait until February to start indoor seeding. It makes me feel that the first fresh tomato is not so very far away. :)

  3. January 22, 2013

    The lighting and colors in these pictures are just lovely – very calming.

    My sister has been using a masticating juicer for several years now and has really been pleased with it. I am sure you are going to get some great mileage out of it – can’t wait to see what you come up with. (And we have to hear more about that tree!)

    I have been weighing the option of a juicer vs. upgrading my blender to a Vitamix. Tough choices man, tough choices.

    • January 23, 2013

      I found your page while researching for my kale article. I didn’t realize you can so drastically improve the texture of kale by massaging it. It really does work! So I added it to my kale article. :-D

      I agree with Cher that the photos are beautiful.

      Cher, I have to say I’m a big fan of the Total Blender. You know, the one where they blend iPhones and such? :) They have a new blending jar that they’re calling Wildside, because it has a 5th side. It’s really good. In fact, Vitamix just lost a lawsuit to Blendtec because they tried copying it!

      By the way, please check out my kale article if you have the time. I think you’ll love it. :)

      • Karen @ Leaf & Grain permalink*
        January 23, 2013

        Thanks for taking the time to share your blender experiences!

    • Karen @ Leaf & Grain permalink*
      January 23, 2013

      That is a toughy. It’s probably penny-wise and counter-wise to go with one of the mega blenders – and they were definitely included in the long, long decision-making process I went through. In the end, I balked at the price tag. Well … honestly … it wasn’t so much the cost as I just plain chickened out, because I have no experience with those mega blenders, aside from consuming Starbucks’ frappucinos (I believe Starbucks uses Blendtec). The downside to a juicer is that it extracts all of the pulp, leaving lots of good fiber to go to waste. The Vitamix wouldn’t do that. I have other uses in mind for the juicer where removing the pulp is a good thing, but, I’ll admit the waste does bother me.

  4. January 23, 2013

    Ooh that looks really good! I’ve been craving greens too. Kohlrabi is a nice green/root veggie all in one for the cold weather I’ve discovered. But I could go for this salad too!

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