Go all out on National Eat Your Vegetables Day (June 17) with a vibrant, vegetarian dish. Packed with colorful vegetables, crispy almonds, and plump berries, this kale salad recipe is easy to make and takes only 15 minutes from start to finish.
With minimal effort, you’ll have a tasty, snappy and rich salad ready in the blink of an eye. Enjoying this hearty kale salad will also help prevent overindulging on unhealthy snacks throughout the day.
Is Kale Salad Healthy?
Yes, it surely is.
Kale, also known as leaf cabbage, is a cruciferous vegetable that is available all year round, especially in the winter.
Kale is mainly grown for its edible green leaves. It comes in two most popular varieties — dinosaur kale with narrow, wrinkly, dark green leaves and curly kale with bright green, ruffled leaves.
Kale is an essential plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acid. It has been a main staple of many internet food trends because of its high nutritional value and ability to be easily incorporated into a variety of dishes.
Containing about 6% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin A in one cup, kale is also packed with a generous amount of other nutrients. Those include fiber, folate, vitamins C and K, iron, calcium, potassium, and antioxidants.
Improve eye and bone health and boost the immune system.
Aid in colds and prevent chronic disease.
Lower cholesterol, prevent blood clotting, and help lower blood pressure.
Support brain development.
Protect against macular degeneration and cataracts.
Aid in digestion and weight loss.
How to Prepare Kale for a Salad
When choosing kale for salads, it’s best to opt for the stalks with dense and sturdy leaves. They shouldn’t look withered or poky.
1. How to Wash and Chop the Kale
Raw kale can sometimes be gritty and covered with dirt, especially the curly variety. It’s best to wash it properly before taking any other steps.
First, remove the tough and chewy ribs from the leaves by peeling them out with your hands or slicing out the stem with a knife.
Next, place the kale leaves into a strainer and rinse under running water while swishing them back and forth. Drain well to release extra moisture from the kale so it can stay fresh and crisp for longer.
Finally, roughly tear or chop the kale into bite-sized pieces or thin strips, whichever you prefer.
You may not want to add kale ribs to your salad, but don’t throw them away. You can make the best use of them by chopping them small and adding them to sautéeing dishes.
2. How to Massage the Kale
Massaging kale is meant to soften its raw, sturdy leaves, making them easier to digest as well as to work with. After the massage, the kale will turn a darker green and become slightly sweeter in taste.
After you’ve chopped the kale leaves, add them to a large mixing bowl. Start by grabbing handfuls of these leaves. Gently work your way through the length of them, repeating a squeeze-release motion until they reach your desired level of tenderness.
Massaging the kale should only take 30 seconds or one minute max, or else the leaves will get overly mushy. Sometimes, a pinch of salt or a single drop of olive oil can be added to the massage to tenderize the kale faster and give it more fragrance.
Kale Salad Ingredients
Besides kale, this 15-minute salad is loaded with other tasty and crunchy mix-ins, such as carrots, red apples, oranges, feta cheese, almonds, and dried cranberries.
If you have a messy drawer of nuts, seeds, and other miscellaneous dry fruits, feel free to swap them in for any ingredients in this recipe. Check out the list below for substitution ideas:
Carrots: Roasted chickpeas, white beans, tempeh, tofu, lentils, artichoke, roasted bell peppers, or any sliced vegetable of choice.
Red apples and oranges: Creamy avocado or grapes.
Feta cheese: Parmesan cheese, cheddar cheese, goat cheese, or crumbled blue cheese for a salty and tangy kick. Or leave the cheese out to make the salad vegan!
Almonds: Toasted whole grains or any of your favorite toasted, slivered nuts/seeds, such as pine nuts, walnuts, pecans, or sunflower seeds. These can be an added source of protein and crunch
Dried cranberries: Raisins can make an excellent replacement.
How to Make Kale Salad
Packed with interesting colors and flavors, this kale salad recipe includes just 4 simple steps and takes 15 minutes from start to finish:
Make the dressing.
Assemble the fresh ingredients on the serving plates in a random order.
Drizzle the dressing and toss if desired.
What to Do With Leftover Kale
If you’ve happened to chop more kale than the serving plates require, don’t worry. Prep-ahead kale can keep well in the fridge and stay fresh for up to 7 days — as long as it hasn’t been tossed with dressing.
Besides salads, fresh chopped kale can be mixed into sauces and dips, or stirred into soups and pasta dishes.
To enjoy kale salad for the whole week, simply whip up the dressing in advance. Store the dressing in a mason jar with a lid separated from the kale and other veggies. Put all the ingredients in the fridge so they’ll be ready to toss together anytime the craving strikes.
Kale is the go-to choice for many prep-ahead dishes as you can see in these healthy recipe with kale that we made. This is due to its ability to hold in shape marvelously and stay fresh longer than other leafy greens.
How Long Does Kale Salad Last?
Kale doesn’t get soggy and mushy as easily as its other leafy green counterparts, (romaine lettuce, for example). With its sturdy leaves, kale can remain crisp in the fridge for up to 2 days — even after being dressed.
Overall, if stored properly in airtight containers and refrigerated, leftover kale salad can stay fresh for up to a week — of course, with a less-tempting texture.
But, like almost any other green salad, freezing this kale salad is an absolute no-no. Both the flavor and texture will be yucky after thawing.
What to Eat With This Kale Salad
No matter how you’ve been planning your meals, there is always room to get creative with kale salad. For example, you can have it:
Topped on pizza.
Mixed into a frittata or made into chips.
Stuffed in burgers or meatloaf.
Added to pasta dishes or mac and cheese.
Stirred into a variety of soup, such as potato soup, summer-squash veggies soup, or lentil soup.
Served alongside a protein main, such as grilled chicken, steak, pork, shrimp, or salmon.
If you are looking for more salad options, don’t hesitate to check out our top 44+ healthy salad recipes and give them a try at the next cook-out.
Tuyet Pham is an award-winning Saigonese chef who believes that joy is the secret ingredient to delicious food. At Healthy Recipes 101, Tuyet personally tests and simplifies every recipe, ensuring maximum flavor with minimal effort. With a background at prestigious French restaurants P’TI Saigon and Le Corto, Tuyet knows how to make every dish exceptional.
Luna Regina is an accomplished writer and author who dedicates her career to empowering home cooks and making cooking effortless for everyone. She is the founder of HealthyKitchen101.com and HealthyRecipes101.com, where she works with her team to develop easy, nutritious recipes and help aspiring cooks choose the right kitchen appliances.
Lizzie Streit is a Minneapolis-based dietitian and founder of It’s a Veg World After All. She completed her MS in Human Nutrition from Drexel University, and is an expert in culinary nutrition, recipe development, and nutrition communications. Lizzie’s philosophy is centered around making nutrition recommendations, and especially the advice to eat more vegetables, approachable and realistic. She is excited to be working with the team at Healthy Recipes 101 to ensure that their recipes are both nutritious and delicious.