Not a detox salad but a welcome to spring, summer and salads. Kale can be prepped the day before eating, then topped and dressed with the smoked oil vinaigrette and addictive nutty topping just before serving. This is perfect as a substantial side salad, or topped with your protein of choice for a “meal salad”. Add new potatoes or asparagus in spring, and pan-roasted sweetcorn in the height of summer.
Kale salads are everywhere. Still. You know a trend is pretty entrenched when main stream supermarkets have them alongside the everyday mixed veg salads, and don’t even make a big song and dance about it. I picked up one yesterday while doing the food shop for my cancer and nutrition classes – in the interests of research, of course – and it ticked all of the on-trend boxes: spiralized carrots and courgette, Vietnamese-ish dressing, shredded kale, edamame, black quinoa. The only thing it didn’t have was coconut water and sorghum. ;-)
I have veered away from kale salads for awhile. I’m not sure why as I certainly appreciate the multiplicity of strong flavour options, as well as the robustness and “picnicability” of a kale salad. Heck, it even tastes great with sun-kissed strawberries. Which still continues to amaze me.
A word about buying kale: I know shops have bags of pre-cut kale. They are really handy to have for adding minerality and extra fiber to smoothies, soups and bakes. But can I please insist that you get whole leaf for salads? It will make a world of difference.
One of the pleasures of making this salad is the easy prep, and in all honesty having a bag of ready-chopped doesn’t make it significantly quicker. About three whole minutes quicker I guess. Three minutes where you could be cutting away the tough pale ribs (and saving them for soup) for a much more enjoyable salad. Taking the time to carefully cut out the rib from each leaf is meditative and, like anointing with the perfect dressing, takes your kale salad from serviceable to incredible. All you do is lay each leaf on a cutting board, run a heavy – or at least sturdy – knife along each side of the rib to give you two kale “fillets”, then stack them up and thinly slice.
The other thing that is nigh on essential is massaging. Many of you will know about this weird-sounding technique and already do it, but if you are relatively new to kale salads massaging your greens is de rigueur for salad perfection. The type used in most salads – cavolo nero – is gorgeous but thick. (No jokes about past boyfriends.) To soften it up add your sliced kale to a large bowl and either sprinkle over a little flaky salt and basically massage it in, or use oil – or both as I have done for this salad. The volume will shrink rather alarmingly, so don’t be alarmed to see your fluffy pile of green suddenly diminish before your eyes. But remember it is still the same weight and nutritional value (actually the nutrition slightly increases).
The great thing about kale salads is that you can do the kale prep a day in advance. So if you are having a lunch for friends you could do all of the above and stow it in a sealable bag or box until you are ready to eat. Kale salads make great leftovers too, especially if you save some naked salad back and dress as needed. That sounded a bit rude, but you know what I mean. 🙂
And I have another kale salad edict: make the nutty sprinkles. I have adapted the recipe from a previous kale salad recipe, veering it into ranch dressing territory. If this kind of flavour profile doesn’t float your boat, keep it to the original. I always make double and sprinkle it on other salads, over soups, mixed through yogurt (with chopped tomatoes and cucumber), on vegetable bakes and I even dip in with a teaspoon if I fancy something savoury. It’s pretty addictive stuff. As is this salad. You have been warned…
Spring-Green Kale Salad
Not a detox salad but a welcome to spring, summer and salads. Kale can be prepped the day before eating, then topped and dressed with the smoked oil vinaigrette and addictive nutty topping just before serving. This is perfect as a substantial side salad, or topped with your protein of choice for a “meal salad”. Add new potatoes or asparagus in spring, and pan-roasted sweetcorn in the height of summer. xx
1 x 400g (14 ounces) or so bunch cavolo nero/lacinto/black kale – all the same thing
1 tbsp smoked olive oil (I get mine from Marks & Spencer)
Handful of radishes
200g (7 ounces) roasted cauliflower or cooked new potatoes (or even cooked chickpeas)
1 head of Romaine or cos lettuce
The Nutty Sprinkles
30g (1/4 cup) pumpkin seeds
70g (1/2 cup) raw almonds in their skins
75g (1/2 cup) raw cashews
Zest of one lemon
15g (1/4 cup) nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp each garlic and onion powder
1/4 tsp dried dill
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp white pepper
Dressing: 1 tbsp smoked olive oil, 2 tbsp best olive oil, 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice or lemon and orange
Optional extras: steamed or roasted asparagus; steamed or roasted beetroot; steamed or boiled green beans; cooked chickpeas; pomegranate arils; orange or grapefruit slices; strawberries or blueberries; goat’s cheese; roasted sweetcorn; homemade croutons
1. De-rib the kale slices with a sharp knife and thinly slice. Add the kale to a large bowl and pour in one tablespoon of the smoked oil and a pinch of salt. Massage well with your hands until the kale is soft and shrunken.
2. Make the nutty sprinkles by toasting the nuts in a 180C (350F) oven for 5 minutes, then add the lemon zest and toast for a further 3 minutes. Let the nuts cool then tumble in a mini food processor until nubbly. Add in the nutritional yeast, garlic and onion powders and the dill and paprika; process for just a second or two to blend. Taste and add salt to taste.
3. When you are ready to eat, stone and slice the avocado (into cubes if you like), radishes and lettuce. Mix everything up in a serving bowl. Whisk up the dressing and pour over, followed by a generous hand of nutty sprinkles.
A Few Other Kale Salads On Food To Glow
Lemony Kale, Quinoa and Chickpea Salad
Kale, Eggplant and Goldenberry Grain Salad with Tahini-Ginger Dressing
Smoky Winter Kale Salad with Avocado-Cilantro Dressing
And some from others
Lightened Up Kale Caesar – Whole Nourishment
Kale and Butternut Squash Salad – Whole Nourishment
Lentil Salad with Kale – The Spicy RD
Asian Kale Salad with Ginger Dressing – Rough Measures
and 15 Favorite Kale Salads – Cookie and Kate
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28 thoughts on “Spring-Clean Kale Salad (vegan recipe)”
That looks delish!
We love kale salads – thank you, Kellie!
Yummy! This look amazing! I definitely agree that the pre-cut lake tastes different from the whole leaves. I definitely love kale’s bold flavor and tad hint of spiciness! I’m definitely trying this soon! 😊
YES to the nutty sprinkles and roasted cauliflower!! And a big thank you for opening this post clarifying this isn’t a detox salad. When things become trendy for health reasons I find we tend to mix up why we eat them. Glad to have a fellow blogger who reminds us we can eat salads out of desire rather than obligation. 😉
I’m off and on with kale salads too. But I’ve found that kale salads that have other robust flavors and a range of textures are much more pleasurable to eat. Massaging helps too. This recipe fits the bill, a fabulous spring salad!
I can’t get kale in rural Mexico so I’ve been craving it and this salad looks like a perfect salad to try when I get back to Nevada! Amen to not making salad with chopped bags of kale, that’s a sure fired way to turn your family against this wonderful veggie. I might try Swiss chard as a sub, stay tuned. Love the Parmesan substitution.
Thank you for the inspiration, Tracey
Thank-you, I love the sound of the sprinkles I’m definitely making them. If anyone has a garden kale is the easiest thing to grow and even survives southern New Zealand winters. Enjoy your spring!
Looks delicious ❤
Looks way too good! Now i’m starving for avocado… 😀
Looks and sounds fresh and tasty!
I wish it were easier to buy whole leaf kale, totally with you on the pre-chopped nonsense! Definitely first thing I’m going to try growing when (!) I get my new garden 🙂
Tasteeeee looking ! I totally agree with you on the bagged kale, just buy the bunch, it takes two seconds longer to prep. – Kat
This is a great recipe along with some even better tips for preparing and buying your kale. Adding some fresh fish provides a whole new world of nutritional value while offsetting the bitterness of the kale with some healthy salt flavours.
That nutty sprinkle though! And I’m intrigued by your de-stemming technique. I’ve always just held the stems firmly and yanked pulled the leaves away and off, but your technique seems downright civilized in contrast. I’ll have to do a comparative de-stemming shortly!
Lovely! I love dill in a salad, takes me right into summer mode. This looks like a great combo, I shall make it for sure 🙂
Once my new crop of kale comes through (I used the last of the over-wintered stuff last week) I will be making this at least once a week. It’s a keeper, I promise 🙂
Looks delish, I will have to try this, thanks!!!
Hi Kellie, I tried this recipe and for the first time I enjoyed kale! Very exciting. I tried it a few years ago and couldn’t get over the texture –
now I know why – I didn’t massage it with oil so it was unbearably tough and chewy. For the last two weeks I’ve kept a container of massaged kale in the fridge to add handfuls to my morning scrambled eggs and dinner plate. I’m finally on the kale bandwagon!! 🙂
I’m so pleased I could help! Massaging just sounds so weird, but it creates magic in those tough cell walls, making it softer and sweeter in seconds! Enjoy your new-found love. I hope you have many years of happiness 😊😊
um yummmm i have to make this
this looks amazing! will definitely have to try it!! thanks for sharing 🙂 xx
I’m not the type of person that enjoys bitter foods, but I think sour juices like lemon and lime neutralizes the bitterness of kale and helps it taste better.
I think you are so right. And a little oil massaged in 🙂 Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to comment
Your welcome! Looking forward to seeing more of your posts!