Easy Kale Salad
This Easy Kale Salad is full of color and nutrients! It’s loaded with carrots, cabbage, chickpeas, mushrooms, parsley and walnuts, all tossed together in a homemade dressing. Enjoy it as-is or use it as a healthy base for your favorite proteins!
Amazing! I just loved it! Thank you so much for sharing it.— Farrah
Having a fresh kale salad is the perfect way to enjoy a nutrient-packed meal and get plenty of vegetable goodness. Kale gets a bad rap, but when prepared correctly, it’s quite delicious! Kale adds so much texture to your salad and is overall a great choice of greens to use, whether you are making a salad or not.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- So tasty. This kale salad is absolutely incredible! It’s packed with different textures and absolutely delicious with sweet and tangy flavors from the White Balsamic Maple Dressing.
- Healthy. Filled with superfood greens, veggies, and plant-based protein, this is nourishing, satisfying, and especially fresh.
- Easy to make. Simply stir together the dressing, do a little chopping, then toss everything together and enjoy.
This salad recipe is filled with healthy superfoods that aren’t only good for you, but taste so good when all mixed and mingled together. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Kale. There are two main types of kale readily available in bunches at the grocery store, Tuscan kale and curly kale. Feel free to use either variety.
- Pictured in this salad is curly kale, which is brighter green and very curly! Its raw flavor is slightly bitter and spicy.
- I typically prefer Tuscan kale, which has dark green, flat leaves and is sometimes called Lacinato or dinosaur kale, because the pattern on the leaves looks like a dinosaur skin. It has a milder, sweeter flavor and is more suited to a salad where you’re eating the kale raw.
- Carrots. Peeled and chopped (shredded works too), carrots are full of beta-carotene. Feel free to roast or sauté these before adding them in, if preferred.
- Red cabbage. Adds color and texture, but if you’re not a fan, leave it out.
- Garbanzo beans. Canned, rinsed and drained. This is a great source of protein, especially if you’re vegetarian or vegan.
- Mushrooms. Adds a nice flavor and texture combo. Feel free to sub another vegetable or omit, if you don’t like mushrooms.
- Curly parsley. Not the flat-leafed kind, curly parsley has a more mild flavor.
- Walnuts. Chopped and toasted. Substitute another nut, like pecans, if preferred. Either way, you get a great crunchy texture.
- Vinaigrette. The kale salad dressing is made with a delicious blend of garlic, salt, maple syrup (or honey), white balsamic vinegar, dried tarragon, extra virgin olive oil, and ground black pepper. It’s to die for and pairs so perfectly with all of the ingredients.
Make the dressing
- Press garlic. Peel and chop garlic very finely. Sprinkle salt on garlic and using the side of your knife or the back of a spoon, mash the garlic into a paste using the salt as an abrasive. Place garlic and salt into the bottom of a salad dressing container or small bowl.
- Combine remaining ingredients. Add the maple syrup, tarragon and vinegar in with the garlic and stir to combine. Whisk while adding extra-virgin olive oil in a constant stream, or if you’re using a container with a lid, pour it all in and shake it up. You want to emulsify the dressing, or suspend the oil in the other ingredients so it’s evenly mixed. It’ll look sort of creamy when it’s emulsified. Taste and add more salt and pepper to your liking. Let rest in fridge while preparing remaining salad ingredients.
How to make this recipe
- Prepare kale leaves. Remove kale leaves from any thick ribs and stems. Rinse and dry with paper towels or run through a salad spinner to dry well.
- Chop kale. Working in batches on a cutting board, gather and bunch kale leaves together and thinly slice or chop into very small pieces.
- Massage the leaves. Transfer kale to a very large bowl. Add some of the dressing to the kale by itself first and toss it all together really well to coat all of the leaves. You can even do this with your hands and “massage” the dressing in so that all of the kale is well coated.
- Let it marinate. For best results, let the dressed kale sit for at least 15 minutes before adding the other toppings, so that it soaks up all of the flavor and the leaves become tender.
- Add the toppings. Gently toss in the rest of the ingredients and drizzle on the remaining dressing (or as much of it as you prefer). Toss well to evenly coat. Serve and enjoy within a few hours.
- Very thinly slice/chop the cabbage, carrots, and mushrooms. It will allow them to integrate better into the salad. You can also buy pre-shredded carrots for a quicker prep time.
- Massaging the kale is not absolutely necessary, but it is recommended to give the leaves a softer, more pleasant texture. Massage by hand for 3-5 minutes or until the leaves are soft and pliable.
- Adjust ingredients to your preference. This salad is very forgiving. If you’d prefer more kale or want to add in different vegetables, feel free. You may also want less of the dressing (we like lots!), so add slowly and to your preference.
Frequently asked questions
Absolutely! Kale is known to be one of the most nutrient dense foods that can be enjoyed in salads or smoothies in the raw form and does not need to be cooked.
In addition to massaging kale, letting it marinate in the vinaigrette will help to flavor it with the dressing and take out any bitter taste.
Kale is considered a superfood and is filled with calcium, manganese, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, potassium and copper. It is low calorie, high in fiber and low in carbohydrates, making it an excellent addition to a weight loss diet (or any diet!).
We typically enjoy this salad as written, but sometimes it’s nice to switch things up a bit depending on ingredients available and taste preferences. Here’s some options:
- Fruit. Try adding chopped apples and/or dried cranberries for a little sweetness. Avocado is another delicious option.
- Protein. Add some diced grilled chicken breast, shredded rotisserie chicken or top with salmon to make this salad a main course.
- Nuts. Almonds, pecans and pine nuts work great in lieu of walnuts. Sunflower seeds or pepitas would also be a tasty addition.
- Cheese. For extra flavor, sprinkle on some goat cheese, feta cheese, blue cheese or shaved parmesan cheese.
- Storing leftovers. Kale salad that has been tossed with dressing can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
- Meal prep. To make ahead, store the kale, toppings, and dressing separately.
- Storing kale. Kale is hearty and can be washed, cut and dried in advance. Store the leaves, wrapped in a paper towel in a zip-top plastic bag for up to 3 days.
- Dressing. Store the dressing in a jar with a lid and it will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.
If you try this salad, let me know! Leave a comment and if your family loves it as much as mine does, be sure to give it a five star ⭐️ rating! Also, tag @kimscravings on Instagram with a picture of your creation. It’s so fun to see what you’re cooking! Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to receive more healthy delicious recipes straight to your inbox.
Easy Kale Salad
For the salad:
- 1 bunch kale, washed and chopped well
- 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 cups red cabbage, chopped
- 1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained
- 6 large mushrooms, wiped clean and chopped
- 1 cup curly parsley, chopped
- 1 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
For the dressing:
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup real maple syrup
- 1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- ground black pepper to taste
- For the dressing: Peel and chop garlic very finely. Sprinkle salt on garlic and using the side of your knife or the back of a spoon, mash the garlic into a paste using the salt as an abrasive. Place garlic and salt into the bottom of a salad dressing container or small bowl.
- Stir in maple syrup, tarragon and vinegar. Add oil in a constant stream while whisking, or if you’re using a container with a lid, pour it all in and shake it up. You want to emulsify the dressing, or suspend the oil in the other ingredients so it’s evenly mixed. It’ll look sort of creamy when it’s emulsified. Taste and add more salt and pepper to your liking.
- Prepare kale leaves by removing any thick ribs. Rinse and dry with paper towels or run through a salad spinner to dry well. Working in batches on a cutting board, gather and bunch kale leaves together and thinly slice or chop into very small pieces. Transfer kale to a very large bowl. Add some of the dressing to the kale by itself first and toss it all together really well to coat all of the leaves. You can even do this with your hands and “massage” the dressing in so that all of the kale is well coated. For best results, let the dressed kale sit for at least 15 minutes before adding the other toppings so that it soaks up all of the flavor and softens the leaves a bit. Gently toss in the rest of the ingredients and the remaining dressing (or as much of it as you prefer). Toss well to evenly coat. Serve and enjoy within a few hours.