Toast almonds until golden brown and fragrant. Set aside to cool.
In a bowl, combine lemon juice and 1 heaping teaspoon of salt. Slowly whisk in olive oil. Add garlic cloves and set aside to steep.
Working in batches, cut the kale into thin ribbons. This need not be done very precisely nor neatly; the idea is to end up with a kind of slaw. (Recipe can be made up to this point 1 day ahead. Keep kale and dressing refrigerated separately.)
Place chopped kale in a very large bowl. Sprinkle surface with almonds and then with cheese, if using. Remove and discard garlic cloves from the dressing. Pour half the dressing over the salad and toss. Taste for dressing and salt and add more as needed, tossing to coat thoroughly. Serve within 1 hour.