Kale salads are one of my favorite dishes to make for so many healthy and convenient reasons. Kale is an earthy and nutritious green that can take on many flavor profiles to suit a variety of tastes. Keep reading for the many reasons why I love kale salads!
Kale is packed full of many nutrients, making it a super food. When you add other colorful vegetables, these salads are an easy and convenient way to add fiber and vitamins to your diet. The kale alone provides double your daily needed Vitamin A, which is great for maintaining healthy vision and supporting the immune system.
On most weekends, I make a nice big kale salad packed with other veggies and homemade dressing. The dressed kale salad keeps for days in the refrigerator and is great for a quick lunch or an easy side for a weekday meal. Most other salad greens, like spinach and lettuce, do not keep long, even undressed! Kale salads become an easy dinner salad for meat lovers by adding cooked chicken or fish.
Kale salads just beg for creativity! Let’s be honest, kale is not the most scrumptious vegetable to eat in its raw, chewy form. There are so many kale salads recipes out there that can satisfy your taste for anything sweet, salty, savory, spicy, Asian, Mexican, or Mediterranean. These recipes are also very flexible and you can add ingredients or take things away as you wish. Don’t like sunflower seeds? Don’t add them. Have walnuts instead? The kale will be very happy with your substitution. You can add anything you like to your kale salad such as nuts, seeds, fruit (clementines are my favorite!), vegetables, cheese, cooked grains (farro, bulgar wheat, quinoa) and even cooked meat and fish!
Also, if you have been following my blog, you know my motto is “waste not.” Therefore, when adding citrus, like the clementines, zest them first to add even more bright goodness to this salad.
Now that you are convinced to make a healthy kale salad, I’ll let you in on some of my best secrets for making a robust salad you won’t be able to get enough of.
Secrets to the Best Kale Salads
Preparing your Kale
Wash your kale thoroughly, just like any other salad green, to remove any gritty dirt. Remove the chewy ribs from the center. You can chop these ribs up and saute them in another dish, or add them to your compost pile. Chop up the leaves of the kale pretty small. I like to keep all components of my kale salads under 1 inch so everything is uniform in size.
Massaging your Kale
Now that your kale is chopped up nicely, place it in a large bowl. Sprinkle with sea salt and massage the leaves vigorously. Yes, this may seem awkward, but this step is necessary to break down the toughness of the leaves so they can be more palatable and easily absorb the scrumptious dressing and flavors to come.
Dressing your Kale
I tend to keep kale salad dressing simple with fresh ingredients. For this Roasted Root Vegetable and Farro Kale Salad, I zested and juiced 2 large lemons and added 1/4 cup of olive oil. I whisked in about 1 Tablespoon of raw honey and some cracked black pepper. Toss your kale well in your dressing and taste it to see if the ratio of tang to sweet satisfies you. You can always add more lemon, salt, honey, or oil. Remember, kale salads require creativity and part of this process is experimenting with what YOU like best.
One of my very favorite ways to pack more nutrition and flavor into my kale salads is by roasting vegetables. Often, I make more kale salads during the “cooler” seasons of gardening when beets, carrots, and turnips are also plentiful. Most vegetables love to be roasted in the oven and the flavor and texture transforms since there are now crunchy edges and soft middles! Simply chop up some of your choice of veggies and put them on a parchment lined baking pan. Toss with olive oil, salt, and black pepper and roast in a 400-degree oven for 15 mins – 30 minutes.
Roasting time depends on the hardness and cut size of the vegetables–beets take the longest and peppers cook up in no time! Broccoli, green peppers, red peppers, radishes, beets, carrots, cauliflower, turnips, and parsnips are some of my preferred roasting choices.
Flavorful and Filling Add-Ins
Kale salads demand creativity and a balance of textures and flavors. For this Roasted Root Vegetable and Farro Kale Salad, the roasted vegetables add a lot of sweetness and a comfort food smoothness. To add a crisp element, I keep the radish raw to set off the softness of the other vegetables.
To make this salad more filling, sources of protein like the farro and cheese are star ingredients. You could also add cooked quinoa or bulgar wheat to make this salad all your own.
For my recipe, I chose a raw goat’s milk feta, but any cheese that is YOUR favorite will work! Creamy goat cheese and shaved parmesan are my other top choices for a kale salad. Sunflower seeds add a great crunch to this salad and pack in more protein! Pomegranate seeds, also called arils, would be another fabulous selection to add a tangy zing!
Now that you’ve learned my tried and true tips for making kale salads a go-to recipe on your weekly rotation, I hope you’ll try this fabulous recipe for a Roasted Root Vegetable and Farro Kale Salad.
What is your favorite Kale Salad recipe? Please comment below!
- 1 Large Bunch of Kale-about one pound
- 1 tsp Sea Salt
- 1 cup Farro
- 2 Beets, chopped
- 1 Parsnip, chopped
- 1 Turnip, chopped
- 2 Carrots, chopped
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Sprinkle of fresh or dried parsley (optional)
- 1/4 cup Olive Oil
- 2 Lemons + zest
- 1 Tablespoon Raw Honey
- Cracked Black Pepper
- 2 Clementines + zest
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
- 7 Radishes, sliced thin
- 1/2 cup cheese of choice, shredded, shaved, or small chunks
- 1.Preheat Oven to 400°F.
- 2. Cook Farro according to package instructions: usually 1 cup added to 3 cups of water. Cook until al dente.
- 3. Clean and chop root vegetables such as beets, carrots, turnip, and parsnip. You do not need to peel unless the outsides seem tough.
- 4. Spread chopped vegetables on a parchment paper lined baking pan and toss with 1/4 cup olive oil, sea salt, cracked black pepper, and parsley.
- 5. Bake vegetables for 15-20 minutes at 400°F. Turn halfway and check for doneness towards the end.
- 6. Wash kale thoroughly and remove tough center ribs. Chop leaves into bite sized pieces about 1 inch.
- 7. Sprinkle kale with 1 tsp of sea salt and massage with vigor!
- 8. While root vegetables cook, prepare your dressing by whisking together olive oil, the juice and zest of 2 lemons, raw honey, and cracked black pepper.
- 9. Toss kale with dressing to evenly coat all leaves.
- 10. Zest clementines onto your kale salad.
- 11. Peel clementines and add the segments to the salad.
- 12. Finely slice the radishes and add to the kale salad. Also add the sunflower seeds, cooked and cooled farro, and cheese.
- 13. When vegetables are finished roasting, allow to cool and mix into the kale salad. I like to ensure I get all of the good flavored olive oil into the salad as well!
- 14. Give the salad a final toss and then check for seasonings, adding more sea salt and cracked black pepper as desired.
- If you prefer a dressing with more acidity, vinegar such as apple cider or balsamic may be added to the dressing.