Esalen Institute’s Kale Salad Recipe

Savor this kale salad from the Esalen Institute using local (if not your own) fresh greens until you get an opportunity to visit Esalen yourself one day.

by John D. IvankoMay 30, 2012
The Esalen Institute's kale salad is made from their farm-grown kale. Photo courtesy Esalen Institute (
Photo courtesy Esalen Institute
The Esalen Institute’s kale salad is made with the kale grown on their farm. You can make it at home, too, with your own greens.

“I think that the main reason our kale salad is so delicious is that we’re using kale that was harvested and walked over by the garden crew moments before,” admits Chef Phillip Burrus, executive chef at the Esalen Institute. Esalen’s Farm and Garden program grows about 5 tons of this dark, leafy green every year for the kitchen. “Often, it’s never been refrigerated,” he adds.

The Esalen Kitchen, guided by five chefs and a kitchen manager, students and interns, creates delicious, wholesome farm-to-table cuisine so matter-of-factly—and for so long—that the nourishment it provides seems as natural as the hot springs also found there.

“There’s nothing else like it,” Burrus continues about the kale salad. “The dressing is a really assertive flavor that’s got great balance and tons of umami. The lemon juice is really bright, the Bragg [Liquid Aminos] is uber-savory, and the onions add a lot of depth to it. It’s important to use a small amount of the dressing and massage it in to the leaves,” he advises.

“At the farmers’ markets, everybody’s taking kale home,” observes Burrus, who has prepared kale in other tasty ways for those dining at Esalen. “It’s really versatile. It’s got a ton of complex flavor compounds that react well to high heat or slow braising, and it can take on and harmonize with a lot of other flavors. I love to sauté it on high heat with good olive oil, a little garlic, shallot, anchovy, and red chili flakes. We’ll go Southern style with chicken stock, a ham hock or bacon, a pinch of sugar and some cider vinegar. Or, we’ll do the same technique but with garlic, ginger, tamari or miso, and a shot of rice vinegar. You can also braise it in coconut milk with a little curry paste.”

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the nonprofit Esalen Institute’s commitment to the exploration of the human potential and social change takes root in the very ingredients harvested by the Farm and Garden program that are mindfully prepared in the kitchen.

Savor this kale salad from the Esalen Institute using local (if not your own) fresh greens until you get an opportunity to visit Esalen yourself one day.

Subscribe now

Recipe: Esalen Institute’s Kale Salad

Yield: 4 to 6 servings



  • 1/3 cup Bragg liquid aminos
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 medium-sized red onion, finely julienned


  • 1 pound tender kale (Red Russian, Siberian, or Tuscan), julienned
  • 1/4 cup toasted sunflower, pumpkin or sesame seeds


Emulsify liquid aminos and lemon juice with olive oil and add julienne red onion to marinate.

Toss julienne kale and toasted seeds with dressing, and let marinate for at least 25 minutes. 

Savoring the good life,

John and Lisa's Signatures

<< More Farmstead Chef >>