Our staple kale salad- with feta cheese, dried cranberries, sliced almonds and a tangy lemon vinaigrette, this simple massaged kale salad recipe is the one we always turn to in a pinch.
You most likely fall in one of two camps: ‘ew, kale!’ or ‘gimme dat kale’.
If you are camp ‘gimme dat kale’, you are going to love today’s recipe, our go-to staple kale salad. This is the salad that we make time and time again.
I turn to this massaged kale salad recipe when I have kale and don’t know what to do with it. I make this salad at Christmas, but also in the middle of summer. It’s perfect for so many different occasions, including just a regular weeknight dinner.
This kale salad recipe
- has only 4 ingredients plus the dressing
- comes together in 15 minutes
- can be prepped ahead and assembled at the last minute for easy dinners
Let’s talk kale salad dressing!
I used my favorite white wine vinaigrette and added just a touch of lemon juice. Lemon & kale go so well together! You could even add some lemon zest to really bring out the lemony flavors of this kale salad dressing.
- White wine vinegar- NOT to be confused with white vinegar. White wine vinegar is far less sharp and acidic than white vinegar. It is more neutral in flavor than red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar (which I find to have a slightly sweet taste). It is tangier than apple cider vinegar and a better choice in a vinaigrette (in my opinion!)
- Olive oil- I opt for a good quality olive oil when making a vinaigrette, so I pick extra virgin olive oil.
- Dijon- I am not a mustard fan, but adding just a smidge of dijon to a vinaigrette helps bring all the flavors together. It is an emulsifier, which is fancy speak that means it prevents the oil and vinegar from immediately separating.
- Honey or maple syrup- we don’t use much, but adding a sweetener really rounds out the flavors. Without it, the dressing is just tangy and flat.
That’s it for this kale salad dressing…just shake it up and you are good to go!
How to avoid bitter kale
Raw kale on it’s own is not really that great, and can have a real bitter taste. With this staple kale salad recipe, your kale is not going to be bitter!
- Massage your kale! This might sound strange, but softening the kale really takes the bitterness out of it. With clean hands, gently squeeze handfuls of kale. Keep doing this for 1-2 minutes, until your kale is soft and bright green.
- Dressing! Adding a tangy dressing like we use in this recipe to hide any remaining traces of bitterness.
- Goodies! Salad is not salad without all the ‘goodies’. Salty feta, sweet dried cranberries and crunchy almonds totally compliment the kale in this recipe.
Can I prep this kale salad recipe ahead? Yes. You can prepare you kale up to a week ahead (tear, wash, spin to dry and store in a produce saver or a large storage container). You can prepare the dressing 2-3 weeks ahead and store in the fridge. And you can keep leftovers of this salad for 1 day. It does get pretty soggy after that so I don’t recommend storing longer than 1 day.
Can I swap XYZ in this salad? Check out all the cool ways you can make this kale salad your own:
- swap the dried cranberries for any other dried fruit, fresh blueberries, strawberries, cherries, or apple slices
- swap the feta cheese for goat cheese or shaved parmesan
- swap the almonds for any other nut or seeds; pecans or walnuts are particularly good
- you can even swap the kale for romaine lettuce or spinach!
Tips for the perfect kale salad
- remember to massage your kale until it is soft and bright green
- I recommend my trusty salad dressing shaker or a simple half pint mason jar to shake up the salad dressing
- Looking for more salad recipes? Check out this Healthy Greek Chicken Pasta Salad, this Refreshing Quinoa Black Bean Salad, or this round up with 21 Make Ahead Salads Perfect for Meal Prep
- Serve your kale with this Baked Lemon Pepper Chicken
Staple Kale Salad
- 8 cups kale (loosely packed; washed & torn into bite-sized pieces)
- 1/3 cup feta cheese crumbled
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey (or maple syrup)
- 1/4 teaspoon dijon
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- salt & pepper
- Tear kale into bite-sized pieces (making sure to remove the thick part of the stem). Wash, then spin dry.
- In a large bowl, massage the kale with clean hands for 1-2 minutes, until soft and bright green.
- Add the feta, cranberries and almonds.
- Shake together vinaigrette ingredients. Add to salad and toss. Serve immediately.
- This kale salad can be made up to 1 day ahead and stored in the fridge. Almonds will soften so you may wish to add them fresh.
- You can prep your dressing and kale up to 1 week ahead for easy salad prep.