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Kale, Garlic, Olive Oil, Lemon Juice

Kale, Garlic, Olive Oil, And Lemon Juice mixed together in a recipe creates an amazing flavor affinity. 

Kale, Lemons, Onions, Olive Oil


Let's dig-in and learn more about this magical mixture starting with Kale.

Working Class Foodies have a Healthy Kale and Quinoa Salad recipe video that demonstrates the flavor affinity.

Julian Bakery shows off the flavor affinity in a simple and easy to make Lemon Garlic Chicken & Kale Paleo Wrap.

Did you notice how the chefs in the videos "massaged" or "prepared" the kale before they served it? Kale is a strong, bitter green that can live through harsh winters.  When kale is rubbed or chopped, however, there's an actual chemical reaction which takes place. The tough cellulose structure breaks down, then wilts. The leaves that once seemed so coarse and fibrous turn silky and become edible.

Who knew that rubbing down kale for a few minutes and/or chopping in conjunction with drizzling the kale with olive oil could maximize the tenderization process of this green leafy beast and transform the super-mega-tastic-food into a manageable product that can be used in so many recipes. 

Did you know that kale is second on the list of foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin.  Wait a minute? What they heck are lutein (LOO-teen) and zaexanthin (zee-ah-ZAN-thin)?  They are important nutrients that reduce your risk for macular degeneration and cataracts. Lutein and zeaxanthin are two types of carotenoids (kuh-RAH-teh-noids). It simply means yellow to red pigments found widely in organic vegetables and other plants.   Eat too many carotenoids and your skin will soon tan with a slight orange to brown color.  

Another tenderizing option for kale is olive oil.


Here's a video that compares and contrasts the difference between traditional and modern methods of grinding/crushing and extracting olive oil.Olive oil is a fat obtained from the fruit of the olive tree, a traditional tree of the Mediterranean.

Cold-pressed olive oil is the gold standard.  The friction caused in the grinding process in the traditional method can heat up the olive mixture and cause it to lose flavor, so new methods have been created to stir the fruit more gently and reduce friction.

There are several grades of olive oil to be aware of.

Extra-virgin olive oil comes from virgin oil production only.  It's higher quality and must contain no more than 0.8% free acidity.  It's judged to have a superior taste, having some fruitiness and no defined sensory defects. Extra-virgin olive oil accounts for less than 10% of oil in many producing countries.

Virgin olive oil comes from virgin oil production only, but is of slightly lower quality, with free acidity of up to 1.5%, and is judged to have a good taste, but may include some sensory defects.

Refined olive oil is the olive oil obtained from virgin olive oils by refining methods that do not lead to changes in the initial glyceridic structure. It has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 0.3 grams per 100 grams. Oils labeled as Pure olive oil or Olive oil are primarily refined olive oil, with a small addition of virgin-production to give taste.

In addition to culinary uses, olive oil is used in skin care and is thought to positively affect cardiovascular health and blood cholesterol levels.

Did you know Spain and Italy produce more than 65% (1.5 million tons) of the world's supply, 2.5 million tons, of Olive Oil yearly.


Lemons are found throughout the world.  The lemon tree's yellow fruit can be used for many purposes. Mostly used for juice, the pulp and rind (zest) are also used in cooking and baking. The juice of the lemon is about 5% to 6% citric acid, giving the fruit a distinctive, sour taste.  Yum.Lemons have been around so long, their origin is unknown.

There are even "brands" of lemons:

  • Meyer - Less acid.
  • Ponderosa - Cold-tolerant, large, hybrid.
  • Serrento -  Zest is high in lemon oils.
  • Bonnie Brae - Seedless variety.
  • Eureka - Typical supermarket lemon.

In addition to culinary uses, Lemons may be used for cleaning and lemon oil may be used in aromatherapy. 

Did you know that more than 15 Million Lemons are produced yearly. China, India, and Mexico top the list of producers and produce almost half of the lemons in the world. 


Garlic is member of the lily family.  Garlic is cousin to leeks, chives, onions and shallots. The edible bulb or garlic grows in the ground.  Each bulb is made up of sections called cloves, and each glove is encased in its own parchmentlike membrane. Garlic has also been around a long time, about 7,000 years, and is native to Asia.

It's true.  Most people enjoy eating garlic but do not enjoy pealing garlic.  Here's a short video that shows you a little trick.  Thank you Chef Don from  Thank you Martha Stewart.

Garlic plants are mainly a hardy plant, and are not attacked by many pests or diseases. In fact, Garlic plants are said to repel rabbits and moles.  I wonder why?  

Did you know that more than 25 million tons of Garlic is grown world-wide, but China is the leader at 20 million tons.

What does Google know about kale, garlic, lemon, and olive oil?  A quick check of Google Trends shows all four food items are popular, comparatively speaking, and are growing in popularity year-over-year.

What does Emeril know about kale, garlic, lemon, and olive oil?

Check out some of these recipes from All Recipes and notice how they prepare the kale and combine the lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil.

All Recipes has (13) recipes which include the garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and kale flavor affinity.

Kale and Quinoa Salad

Paleo Chorizo Sweet Potato and Kale Stew

Lemony Lentils with Kale

Healthy Warm Farro Salad

Spicy Kale and Shrimp Soup

Kale Caesar with Cucumbers and Leeks

Roasted Beet and Kale Salad

Kickin' Kale Pesto

Whole Earth Kale Salad

Colorful Kale and Spinach Salad and Homemade Dressing

Red Quinoa and Tuscan Kale

Mediterranean Kale

Orzo with Kale


Now - What Wine(s) To Pair With Kale, Olive Oil, Lemon Juice, Garlic recipes.  Kale can be a assertive, sometimes bitter weedy-tasting, and a challenge to pair with even the most vegetable-friendly wines.  For this to work well, I need your feedback and need you to share the results of your food experiments.

Wine Paring Recommendations For Kale, Olive Oil, Lemon Juice, and Garlic.

FORGE - Riesling Finger Lakes Les Allies - 2012
New York - Finger Lakes

Tasting Notes:

Ripe and distinctive, with a creamy edge to the Jonagold apple, heather, honeysuckle and jasmine flavors. Shows well-buried zip through the finish, adding length and definition. This is a step ahead of the pack.

Pale straw... Pretty, floral nose: white flowers and citrus but delicate and feminine. Just the most subtle hint of petrol. Medium bodied, good flavor profile, enough acidity to give the wine clean lines and nice delineation. Long mineral-inflected finish.
CHEHALEM - Riesling Chehalem Mountains Corral Creek Vineyards - 2012

Tasting Notes:

Sleek, polished and vibrant, with lemon-accented green apple and quince flavors, finishing barely off-dry with intensity and finesse.

The palate is still a bit shy, expressing hints of what will soon become full-fledged coconut crème, key lime pie, and starfruit, with complexity and juicy fruit remaining the focus of balanced acidity and a touch of RS. Some subtle petrol notes have begun, but with age and patience you will see one of the best Riesling vineyards in the state really begin to blossom.

ELK COVE - Riesling Late Harvest - 2012
Oregon - Willamette Valley

Tasting Notes:

Dry, crisp and vital, with juicy pear and apple flavors at the core, hinting at lemon curd as the refined finish lingers.

Our Late Harvest Riesling is made from very ripe fruit with 5-20% botrytis (noble rot) which adds an earthy honey character to the wine. The grapes are whole-cluster pressed and fermented at very cool temperatures in small stainless steel tanks to retain the freshness of the Riesling grapes. Some of the original sweetness is always retained in the final wine, without sacrificing structure and acidity.
ST. COSME - Côtes du Rhône White - 2013
France - Southern Rhone

Tasting Notes:

Offers creamed Jonagold apple, Cavaillon melon, glazed pear and white peach flavors, all framed by a suave toasted almond hint. Lovely fennel and macadamia nut accents line the finish.

Tropical fruits, pineapple and floral notes in its medium-bodied, thrillingly pure, crisp and lengthy personality. While it doesn’t skimp on texture, it has beautifully integrated acidity and will be versatile on the dinner table.
DOMAINE GIBAULT - Sauvignon Blanc - 2013
France - Loire Valley

Tasting Notes:
A pure, chiseled style, with a strong flinty spine that lets notes of lime, chive and fleur de sel ripple through the unadorned finish.

The low temperature vinification gives this Sauvignon Blanc white fruit aromas, citrus and candied citrus, exotic fruits.  Very tender and tasty, very long finish with a dominant passion fruit.

>> Try some of your own pairings and share the results using the hashtag #PairAndShare. 

References / Research

Garlic - Wikipedia
Kale - Wikipedia
Lemon - Wikipedia
Lutein and Zeaxanthin: Eye and Vision Benefits - All About Vision - Gary Heiting OD
How To Pair Kale Salad With Wine - Food Wine - Kristin Donnelly
Olive Oil - Wikipedia
Six Of The Best Drink Pairings For Kale - Matching Food And Wine - Fiona Beckett
The California Cook: Kale in a salad? Yes - Los Angeles Times - Russ Parsons


Nov 30, 2015 • Posted by Mike

Thank you for the feedback @Sherry. Glad to hear it was a great balance of flavors!

Nov 21, 2015 • Posted by Sherry

Made the Kale and Quinoa Salad and it was wonderful with a great balance of flavors! I didn’t have lemon, so used lime. Leaving the kale to marinate in the dressing for about 15-20 min. wilts the kale to a really nice texture, and the leftover the next day was equally good. Also, the dressing would be good with almost any green salad.

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