Amazing kale salad recipes

Gone are the days of serving kale as a garnish at salad bars across America. It's everywhere lately, touted as a superfood by health enthusiasts, and recommended by dietitians as an essential staple of a healthy, fiber-rich diet. And that's a good thing, especially given that kale is cheap, plentiful, and flavorful, as well as delicious in both raw and cooked formats. Additionally, this leafy plant comes in several different varieties — be it curly, dinosaur, or baby — and lends itself nicely to a multitude of preparations. So salad enthusiasts, rejoice! Here are some amazing kale salad recipes to add to your recipe book. 

Massaged kale salad

Massaging kale is exactly what it sounds like — you literally take the kale and give it a good, thorough rub-down. Why do this? Because it tempers the firm, fibrous texture, and renders it silky and tender. It also takes some of the bitterness out of the flavor too, so it's always a good thing to do if you're serving kale raw.

Now that you know this culinary trick, why not try making this easy but awesome recipe from the Food Network? Once you've massaged the kale with a little bit of olive oil, lemon and salt, make a dressing of honey, lemon, ground black pepper, and olive oil. Then, pour the dressing over the kale, and add diced mango and toasted pumpkin seeds. Give it a good toss, and you've got a salad that's rich in bright flavors and full of contrasting, complimentary textures.

Balsamic kale salad

Another recipe that's super simple but also insanely delicious is this recipe from Show Me the Yummy. It utilizes a pretty classic set of flavors and showcases a very pleasing textural contrast. 

Start by toasting chopped pecans in the oven until they're crispy, letting them cool while you prep the other ingredients. Next, make your vinaigrette with olive oil, honey, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, minced garlic, and salt and pepper. Then, tear the kale — curly kale with the ribs removed works best here — into bite sized pieces, place into a bowl, then massage until tender. Add in some blackberries, feta, the pecans, and chopped red onion. Finally, pour in the dressing and toss until evenly coated. 

Creamy Mexican kale salad

Kale salad is a great go-to for dinner on late summer nights when it's too hot to cook. And this recipe from ifoodreal, which is rich in protein and healthy fats, blends classic Mexican flavors like avocado, cilantro, onion, and black beans for a fresh and sophisticated flavor combination. It's also substantial enough to satisfy a healthy appetite. 

First, you'll want to prepare avocado the dressing in a food processor — easy peasy. Next, place baby kale in a large bowl, topping it with chopped vegetables. If you want cheese, top it with some cotija crumbles for extra flavor.

Killer kale salad

There are few things more pleasurable in life than fresh mushrooms sauteed to perfection. Thanks to this recipe from The Pioneer Woman, these fungi are front and center in a salad that utilizes classic pairings for a dynamic flavor profile.

Start by combining the vinegar and oil dressing in a mason jar; shake and let it set. Then, cook up your bacon, caramelize a red onion, and finally, heat the mushrooms until soft, adding the wine of your choice for flavor — I like to use a nice pinot grigio. 

To serve, slice some rolled kale and add it into a bowl. Add the dressing, mushrooms, onion, and bacon, and toss. Top it off with goat cheese and enjoy!

Greek kale salad with avocado

It's not surprising that you'll find a Greek salad on the menu of many diners across the country. And that's a good thing given how perfectly flavorful they are, with fat, juicy olives and salty feta cheese. And while kale is not typical Grecian fare, it still serves as a flavorful base for this iconic dish.

This recipe from The Real Food Dietitians takes a few liberties with authenticity, but it's for a good reason: avocados. So bust out your knife, and dice bell pepper, cucumber, and red onion. Then, slice some kalamata olives and an avocado. Chop fresh basil, and cube a few artichoke hearts — then chop some kale with the stems removed. That's a lot of knife work! Fortunately it's worth it. Finally, mix it all together in a big bowl. Finish with feta cheese and dressing.

Triple berry kale salad

If you're not using berries in your salads, you should be! Their natural sweetness adds bright flavors to any dish, and pairs well with kale's inherent bitterness. And this recipe from The Recipe Critic has an amazing Greek yogurt dressing to round out all of the flavors.

To make the creamy dressing, put Greek yogurt, chopped strawberries, sugar, milk, and cider vinegar in a food processor and blend until smooth. Then, whisk in poppy seeds. To make the salad, tear curly kale into bite-sized pieces and place into a bowl. Add chopped fruit, sliced almonds and goat cheese crumbles. Toss with the dressing and enjoy.

Kale salad with buttermilk dressing and pickled onions

I discovered pickled onions on an episode of Chopped, and now I sneak them into everything I can. Pickling mellows the assertive flavor of red onion and renders it sweet and tangy, making it great for salads. And this recipe from Southern Living pairs it with beets and kale for a wonderful flavor and textural balance.

Start with pickled onions, then add sliced beets and refrigerate. Make your dressing by combining buttermilk, mayo, olive oil, vinegar, and seasonings. Once the dressing is ready, toss it with bite-sized pieces of curly kale and the pickled onions. Finally, top it with chopped parsley, chives, croutons, and a hard-boiled egg. 

Rotisserie chicken kale salad with apples and cheddar

You don't have to be from the Midwest to celebrate the glorious pairing that is apples and cheddar cheese. And this recipe from Delish brings rotisserie chicken and kale to the party too, creating satisfying layers of flavor and diversity of textures. 

The dressing is a pretty standard vinaigrette you can throw together quickly. Once you've whisked it together, pour it over bite sized pieces of kale and use your hands to massage the greens until they're softened. Next, cut the apples into matchsticks, shred the chicken, and grate the cheddar cheese. Add them to the kale and give everything a good toss. Serve with roasted pumpkin seeds for extra texture.

Crudités salad with farro and pecans

Don't be intimidated by the fancy French word: crudités are simply whole or sliced raw veggies that are served with a dipping sauce as an appetizer. And this recipe from Bon Appétit uses kale to tie the crudités all together into a salad format. 

First, bust out your knife and get chopping. Slice some fennel, zucchini, radishes, tomatoes, and trim some watercress. Grate some cauliflower on a cheese grater. Then, whisk lemon juice, olive oil, and salt together for the dressing. Once that's done, toast some pecans on the stove, coarsely chopping them once they cool down. Next, blend a bit of the dressing with some almond butter, and use that to massage some bite sized pieces of Tuscan kale for a sweet, nutty flavor. Finally, throw everything together into a bowl with some cooked farro and enjoy this textural masterpiece. 

Chopped kale salad with prosciutto and figs

One way to highlight the taste of kale is to pair it with other greens, like bitter radicchio and  sharp endive. This recipe from Giada De Laurentiis via Food and Wine does just that.

Roast some walnuts until they're crispy, then make the vinaigrette in a large bowl. Add the walnuts, all of the chopped greens, sliced figs, and chopped prosciutto, tossing everything thoroughly. Last but not least, either shave or crumble gorgonzola cheese over the top.

Kale salad with butternut squash, chickpeas and tahini dressing

Kale can get a bit boring if you eat it often, which is why it's good to layer your textures and flavors when working with it. Thanks to Foodie Crush, here's a recipe that absolutely slays. Dice some butternut squash, and combine it with rinsed canned chickpeas on a foil-lined baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil, cayenne, and curry powder for flavor, making sure everything is coated evenly, then bake until lightly brown. 

While the squash and chickpeas are roasting, remove the ribs from curly kale and slice the greens into ribbons, then add it into a big bowl with chopped cilantro.  Next, add tahini, olive oil, white wine vinegar, and honey to a mason jar to mix the dressing. Once the chickpeas and squash have cooled, throw them in with the kale and cilantro. Add some candied pecans and the dressing, then toss until everything is evenly coated.

Peas and kale salad with bacon vinaigrette

I'm always on the lookout for creative ways to use black-eyed peas, a southern staple usually paired with a pork product as it soaks up the flavor nicely. So when you're trolling recipes for New Year's Day, remember this one from Southern Living

While your bacon cooks, combine the peas, chicken stock, seasoning, and some bacon drippings in a saucepan until tender and drain. After that, sauteé an onion with the remaining bacon grease, then add apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, and Dijon mustard. Once the mixture is thickened, add the pea mixture. Give it a good stir, then it pour over chopped kale and parsley. Top with bacon crumbs and parsley. Enjoy!