Kale has seen a surge in popularity recently -- but now that the warm weather is making its presence known, this fibrous green may be forgotten about in the face of more tender baby arugula and mesclun.

Kale is a strong, bitter green that can brave its way through winter. It holds up well to being sauteed, baked and as a green in hearty stews. But its culinary properties don't end there. Kale works wonderfully in lighter recipes too -- it just needs to be treated properly. And that special treatment comes in the form of a massage.

While it might seem a bit odd to massage your food, you'd be amazed at what a quick five-minute rubdown can do to transform this green from being bitter and tough to turning silky and sweet. After a little massage, kale becomes a great option for light green salads -- the type you'll want to be eating all summer long.

Massaging kale is easy to do. Take bunches of kale in both hands -- with the fibrous ribs removed -- rub them together and repeat. You'll notice a visible change as you do this; the leaves will darken, shrink in size and become silky in texture. The LA Times explains why this happens -- kale's tough cellulose structure breaks down -- wilts, actually.

If you want to know when your massaging hands have done their trick, take a bite. If it's still bitter, it could use a little more. Another tenderizing option is to add olive oil and salt while massaging -- you'll have taken care of preparing and dressing the salad all at once. If rubbing your greens is not something you can get into, kale also calms its wintery ways if tossed in olive oil and left to sit overnight. With these techniques, you just might find yourself eating this leafy green all summer long.

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Ready for a salad now? Check out our gallery of summer salads.

Arugula Salad With Balsamic And Toasted Hazelnuts
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Along with a classic Dijon vinaigrette, this arugula salad benefits from the addition of nuts, which add texture and crunch to any green salad. Toasting nuts brings out more flavor.

Get the Recipe for Arugula Salad with Balsamic and Toasted Hazelnuts



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