Use a little TLC with your kale

Kale and Cucumber Salad With Avocado-Tahini Dressing.

Even though you might not have had a massage within recent memory, I’m asking that you treat your curly kale to one. The leaves are not stressed, but they could relax a little. Cookbook author Nava Atlas says that a few minutes spent rubbing a bit of salt or olive oil into the leaves yields a crunchy-soft consistency, one that is just right for kale salads.

We’ve used the salt method in this version of the recipe; instead, you could rub a small amount of olive oil on the palms of your hands, then massage the kale leaves for 1 to 2 minutes, or you could drizzle a small amount of olive oil and lemon juice directly over the ribboned kale and massage for 30 to 60 seconds.

Serve with garlic bread. Make ahead: You’ll have about a cup of the dressing left over, which can be refrigerated for up to 3 days in an airtight container. Use it as a dip or stir it into a pasta or rice salad. Adapted from Atlas’ “Wild About Greens” (Sterling, June 2012).

4 servings Ingredients 12 ounces curly kale

Kosher salt Leaves from 12 stems flat-leaf parsley

1 ripe Hass avocado 1 lemon 1/2 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 1/4 to 1/2 cup water

1 medium cucumber 1 to 2 medium carrots

2 scallions Freshly ground black pepper

Steps Strip the kale leaves from the stems; reserve the stems for another use, if desired. Rinse and dry the leaves well. Roll and cut them into thin ribbons, then place them in a large bowl. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of the salt over the kale. Use your clean hands to massage it into the leaves for 1 to 2 minutes, until the leaves soften and their color is enhanced.

Chop enough of the parsley leaves to yield 2 to 4 tablespoons and transfer to the blender. Cut the avocado in half and discard the pit. Transfer the flesh to a blender. Cut the lemon in half, then squeeze the juice into the mixture, being careful not to let any seeds fall in. Add the tahini and cumin. Puree until smooth; add enough of the water to form a pourable dressing. The yield should be about 11/2 cups.

As you prep the following ingredients, place them in the bowl with the kale. Peel the cucumber, then cut it in half lengthwise. Scoop out and discard the seeds. Cut the remaining cucumber crosswise into thin slices. Grate the carrot(s) to yield 1 cup. Chop the remaining parsley leaves to yield about 1/3 cup. Cut the light-green parts of the scallions crosswise to yield about 2 tablespoons. Season with the pepper to taste.

Add about 1/2 cup of the dressing to the salad and toss to coat evenly. Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed. Divide the salad among individual plates. Serve right away.

Nutrition per serving (using 1/2 cup of dressing): 150 calories, 6g protein, 17g carbohydrates, 8g fat, 1g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 130mg sodium, 5g dietary fiber, 2g sugar.