Once you’ve rinsed and dried your kale, run your hand along the stem to remove the green leaves from the stalky stem. You don’t have to remove the stem completely (we actually enjoy the top 2/3 in the salad), but be sure to compost or reserve the larger bottom stalks for DIY vegetable broth.
Stack your stalks of kale on top of each other and finely chop. No need to mince, just cut into manageable, bite-size pieces.
Add kale to a large mixing / serving bowl and top with lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. Then massage with clean hands for about 3 minutes. The point of massaging is to infuse the kale with the lemon juice and oil, and also to break down some of the tough, fibrous characteristics of kale. This makes it easier to chew and digest, and makes for a more tender salad. Season with salt, massage/toss once more, then set aside.
Next prepare the dressing by adding tahini, lemon juice, maple syrup, and salt (optional) to a medium mixing bowl. Whisk to combine. Then slowly add water until creamy and pourable. The mixture may seize up and thicken at first, but continue adding water a little at a time, whisking until creamy and smooth. Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more lemon juice for acidity, maple syrup for sweetness, or salt to taste. Set aside. (Store leftover dressing in the refrigerator up to 5-7 days — sometimes longer.)
To serve, top with desired amount of dressing and crispy chickpeas (optional), toss, and serve. Leftovers keep covered in the refrigerator up to 3-4 days (not freezer friendly). We enjoy leftovers chilled, but also find that they sauté nicely (even with the dressing and chickpeas) if you’re looking for a cooked version.
*We recommend using curly kale for massaged kale salads as the non-curly (a.k.a. lacinato / dinosaur / Tuscan variety) is more tender to begin with and doesn’t require as much massaging. It does work, we just prefer curly for this recipe.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with the lesser amount of maple syrup and without optional ingredients.
*Prep time does not include baking optional crispy chickpeas.