This Kale Salad starts with fresh kale, avocado, and chickpeas in a zesty lemon vinaigrette. Customize it with nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, cheese, and your favorite proteins. This massaged kale salad recipe turns fresh kale into a devourable meal!
Kale Salad FAQ’s
Fresh kale is LOADED with fiber, along with essential vitamins and minerals. Today, I’m answering some kale salad FAQ’s. Can you eat raw kale in salads or do you cook it? What’s the best way to prepare raw kale for kale salad? How do you make kale taste good…and what goes well with it? I invite you to become kale savvy and get hooked on this easy kale recipe!
Lemony kale salad recipe ingredients
- kale (I love green curly kale for this salad!)
- lemon juice
- maple syrup (optional, but recommended)
- Dijon mustard (optional, but recommended)
- fresh garlic
- salt and pepper
- extra virgin olive oil
- chickpeas (canned or cooked from scratch)
Can you eat raw kale in salads?
Yes. I recommend raw kale for just about any kale salad, especially if it’s prepared properly. By this, I mean you wouldn’t just toss kale into a bowl with toppings and dressing and expect people to devour it. Unless, of course, it’s baby kale. Then you’re all good!
What makes most kale types desirable in raw form is when it’s either massaged until the leaves are fully tenderized, or it’s thinly sliced and combined with other salad greens.
Do you cook kale for kale salad?
There’s really no need to cook kale for most kale salad recipes. In fact, cooking it would make it undesirably mushy for a typical kale salad, unless that’s your jam.
However, if you want a warm kale salad or side dish, you could braise it and add any number of ingredients to it.
What’s the best way to prepare raw kale for kale salad?
The best way to prepare kale for salad is to massage it with a vinaigrette or plain oil until the leaves are tenderized to your liking. Baby kale is the only type of kale I don’t massage for salads because it’s naturally tender and delicious.
Another way is to slice it so thin and combine it with other salad greens so the chewy texture is undetectable. I love both methods!
How do you make kale taste good in a salad?
Massaging kale is the first step. After that, your salad ingredients are what makes or breaks a kale lover or hater. Really, the sky is the limit with ingredients, but here’s a list to get your ideas rolling.
- fresh vegetables – bell peppers, onions, snap peas, radish, broccoli, cauliflower
- nuts – walnuts, macadamia nuts, pistachios, pine nuts, pecans, almonds
- seeds – pepitas, hemp seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds
- fresh fruit – oranges, strawberries, blueberries
- dried fruit – dried cranberries, raisins, apricots, apples
- cheese – shaved parmesan, goat, feta, mozzarella
- non-plant proteins – chicken, shrimp, pork, beef
These are just a few examples of so many! Many of my readers have said this is their favorite kale salad, even in its simplest form with only chickpeas and avocado. Most seem to love the customization options with ingredients they have on hand.
Kale salad recipe steps
- Whisk or blend vinaigrette ingredients until creamy.
- Remove cleaned kale from stems, if any, and place in a large bowl.
- Pour the vinaigrette over the kale And MASSAGE with your hands until the kale leaves are tenderized and fully coated with the vinaigrette.
- Add diced avocado, chickpeas, and any other ingredients you like; gently toss together using salad tongs.
- Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate up to 48 hours. (the avocado will turn brown, so be prepared to add more as needed for serving).
* See full recipe below
How long does dressed kale salad last? When can I dress it?
Fresh kale that isn’t dressed can easily last several days in the refrigerator. Lightly dressed kale, without any added ingredients, can stay fresh enough to enjoy for about 48 hours. You would simply toss in the other ingredients when serving.
When ingredients like fresh fruit or avocado are folded into kale salad, it’s best to serve it immediately or within a few hours.
This kale salad recipe has so many benefits!
- naturally vegan and gluten-free
- no added sugars
- ready to eat in under 15 minutes
- perfect meal prep salad that holds up nicely
- healthy dinner salad that compliments any entree
- uses everyday ingredients
- loaded with nutritious ingredients
What to serve with kale salad
- Garlic Butter Grilled Salmon
- Baked Chicken Thighs
- Broiled Salmon
- Chicken Legs
- Herb Roasted Turkey Breast
More healthy salad recipes:
- Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad
- Asian Slaw Quinoa Salad
- Veggie Quinoa Chopped Salad
- Strawberry Salad with Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette
Lemony Kale Salad
For the lemon vinaigrette:
- 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
- 1 tsp Maple Syrup optional, but recommended
- 1 tsp Dijon optional, but recommended
- 1 clove Garlic finely grated
- 1/8 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1/8 tsp Black Pepper
- 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
For the kale salad:
- 1/2 lb Curly Kale same as 8 cups
- 1 cup Chickpeas rinsed and drained
- 1 Avocado pitted and diced
For the lemon vinaigrette:
- In a bowl, whisk together LEMON JUICE, MAPLE SYRUP, DIJON, GARLIC, SALT, and PEPPER.
- Slowly drizzle in OLIVE OIL, whisking until creamy. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. (see recipes notes)
For the kale salad:
- Pour lemon vinaigrette over KALE and firmly massage until kale begins to soften and all surfaces are coated.
- Gently fold in the CHICKPEAS and AVOCADO; serve immediately.