This Kale Salad is one of my favorites.
Let’s just take a moment to appreciate all of its tasty components. Tender, massaged kale leaves. Crisp apples. Sweet craisins. Tangy lemon juice/zest and Dijon mustard. Creamy and soft goat cheese. Crunchy almond slices and pumpkin seeds. Hello, yum.Jump to Recipe
How to Massage Kale (and why!):
Sounds silly, right? Well, massaging kale is 100% a real thing and it’s crucial to make the best Chopped Kale Salad possible.
Kale is a cruciferous vegetable. This means it is actually closer related to vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower, then it is to lettuce.
Massaging kale (rubbing or scrunching kale together) is a technique that helps break down its tough, fibrous exterior. This technique produces a much more tender salad that is more flavorful and easier to chew.
To massage kale:
- Wash kale. Remove the thick, hard stem. Even if you have pre-chopped kale, check every piece and discard remnants of the stem.
- Hold bunches of the kale together and chop finely into small bite-sized bits (see photo above).
- Place in a bowl. Using both of your hands, grab fistfuls of kale and scrunch. Tip: The motion is similar to when you are shampooing your hair.
- Stop once the kale becomes darker green, fragrant, and reduced in size.
- You’re done! Continue on with the recipe.
Massaging kale is easy because there are several cues that will let you know if you’re doing it right. When massaged, kale will reduce in size, become darker green, and have a fresh fragrant scent.
Some people prefer to massage their kale in oil and salt, but I simply massaged my kale plain and then later on added in some of my Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette.
Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette
While many vinaigrette’s would be delicious with this salad, I highly recommend giving my Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette a try. With its use of pantry staple ingredients, you might just happen to have the ingredients already on hand.
This dressing uses tangy apple cider vinegar, honey, olive oil, lemon juice and zest, and Dijon mustard. It has a classic vinaigrette taste and the use of lemon compliments the apples and craisins in this recipe.
Notes on Chopped Kale Salad with Apples, Craisins, and Goat Cheese:
- Massage your kale before assembling the salad. Instructions above.
- You can make the dressing ahead of time, if you wish. Store it in the refrigerator 2-4 days. Tip: Sometimes olive oil can harden after a few days in the refrigerator. If this happens, simply let your dressing sit out at room temperature 30 minutes to an hour, or until room temp.
- Cut only one apple at a time (enough for that meal’s serving) to prevent browning.
- Kale doesn’t get quite as soggy as lettuce, but it also isn’t as immune to sogginess as cabbage. I personally prefer to put dressing on the kale right before serving. I store it assembled with the nuts, craisins, seeds, and goat cheese; keeping the apple and dressing separate.
- This salad is amazing served all by itself, but also pairs well with marinated chicken and grilled salmon.
If you want more healthy salad recipes, try out my;
Chopped Kale Salad with Apples, Craisins, and Goat Cheese
For the Chopped Kale Salad:
- 6-8 cups kale - chopped
- 1 cup craisins
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds - or slivered
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds - or sunflower seeds
- 4 oz. goat cheese - crumbled
- 2 honey crisp or gala apples - only cut one apple per night served
- 2 slices lemon - juiced, for the apple
For the Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette:
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 6 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 4 tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 7 tbsp. honey
- 2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice - seeds removed
- zest from two slices of lemon
- salt and pepper to taste
To make Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette:
- Rinse lemon. Cut into slices along segments. Squeeze 2 tsp. of juice and add to a mason jar. Zest the lemon peel from two slices; add to jar. Combine remaining vinaigrette ingredients. Taste with a piece of kale and adjust to your liking.
To assemble Chopped Kale Salad:
- Wash and dry kale. Discard the thick, hard stems. Gather kale in a bunch and chop finely into small bite-sized pieces. Add to a large bowl. Using both of your hands, massage the kale in a scrunching motion. Massage until kale has reduced in size, become darker green, and fragrant.
- To your bowl of massaged kale; add in craisins, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and goat cheese. Add in a few splashes of Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette (only to the portion you plan to eat that day), and stir until combined.
- Chop up apple and place into a small serving dish. Squeeze juice from two lemon slices overtop; stir.
- Serve salad with apple spooned overtop and extra dressing on the side. Pairs well with marinated chicken and grilled salmon.