Want a fresh salad perfect for an easy lunch, to serve with dinner, or to take to a potluck? Then you've got to try this kale salad. Could this be the best kale salad recipe ever? I think so! To begin with, it's packed with fresh veggies — baby kale, carrots, radishes, and red cabbage. Talk about lots of flavor and crunch! It's also drizzled with a vibrant, sweet, and tangy vinaigrette that perfectly highlights the salad. Can I get a kale-lelujah?!
Kale has been touted as a superfood and even became trendy at some point. It's made its way into salads, smoothies, green juices, tacos, pasta dishes, and more. You can even find it in the chip aisle. Moreover, kale has its own day! (the first Wednesday in October) However, it has a strong and earthy taste that can be bitter to eat raw. That's why massaging the leafy greens is essential in preparing the best kale salad recipe. It reduces some of the greens' bitterness and helps to tenderize the leaves, making them more enjoyable to eat.
WHY WE LOVE KALE SALAD
- Perfect for warm weather. This is the best kale salad recipe because it's so refreshing on a hot summer day. It's so good that you'll want to have it all year long!
- A versatile side dish. Look no further than this quick and easy kale salad when you need a recipe to round out your meal. It complements many dishes and uses ingredients that you can easily get all year round.
- Packed with nutrition. Baby kale is rich in calcium and iron as well as vitamins A, C, and K1. Carrots are full of good-for-you perks, like antioxidants that enhance eye health and soluble fiber, which help regulate blood sugar and insulin health. Red cabbage is a powerhouse of dietary fibers, good carbohydrates, potassium, plenty of vitamins, and other essential minerals.
- Stays fresh for awhile. This kale salad doesn't wilt within minutes of adding the dressing like other salads. As a result, it’s an excellent option for a cookout or dinner party. Just don't expect the dressed salad to keep well until the next day. While kale salad resists wilting longer than other salads, serving it as fresh as possible is best.
Here are the ingredients you'll need to make the best kale salad recipe:
- Baby kale
- Olive oil
- Maple sugar
- Red radishes
- Red cabbage
- Olive oil
- Pepitas (toasted pumpkin seeds)
- Baby kale: The star of this salad. Baby kale has a subtle flavor and softer consistency than the mature leaves. Most baby kale has a slight peppery note similar to mild arugula, and the leaves are sturdy enough to stand up to bolder flavors.
- Orange and limes: I whisk up a simple citrus vinaigrette for the salad and use fresh orange and lime juice. It gives the salad a light, bright taste and pairs well with nearly everything you want to serve or add to the salad. Yet another reason why this is the best kale salad recipe!
- Olive oil: Regular or extra-virgin olive oil will work depending on how strong of a flavor you'd like.
- Pepitas: For a bit of extra crunch and texture in the best kale salad recipe. Alternatively, you can add some nuts like walnuts or crushed macadamia nuts for extra protein.
- Maple syrup: The syrup's natural sweetness balances out the tart, refreshing lime juice in the vinaigrette. You can use honey or agave nectar if you're out of maple syrup.
STEP 1: MAKE THE DRESSING
Slice the orange and limes into halves and use a citrus juicer to squeeze out their juices.
Next, use a fine-mesh strainer to strain the juice.
Add the olive oil, orange juice, and lime juice to a glass jar. Next, slowly sprinkle in the sea salt. Finally, add the maple sugar and screw on the jar's lid. Shake well.
Taste the dressing and add what you feel is needed. Set aside.
STEP 2: PREP THE OTHER VEGGIES
Wash and rinse the carrots and red radishes.
Next, peel and grate the carrots and thinly slice the radishes. Set aside.
For the red cabbage, remove any tough outer leaves, especially if bruised, damaged, or eaten by insects.
Rinse and dry and cut the vegetable in half. Next, cut each half into quarters and carefully remove the thick core on each quarter using a sharp knife. Thinly slice the cabbage until you have enough to fill a ¾ cup. Set aside.
STEP 3: MASSAGE THE KALE
To clean the kale, add the leaves to a bowl of cold, clean water, and swish them around. Let them sit in the water for 10-15 minutes to remove any dirt or grit. Next, run the greens through a salad spinner to get rid of excess moisture.
Put the baby kale in a large bowl and pour the dressing over them, reserving a couple of tablespoons for later.
Use your fingers to toss the kale. Once the greens are coated with the dressing, work the leaves with your fingers. Pinch and squeeze the kale for a couple of minutes or until the kale softens and begins to wilt.
STEP 4: ASSEMBLE THE SALAD
Add the shredded cabbage, grated carrots, and sliced radishes to the bowl of baby kale. Next, sprinkle some toasted pumpkin seeds.
Drizzle the remaining dressing over the salad ingredients.
Toss and serve immediately.
- Make it a meal. Turn this baby kale salad into a complete meal by throwing in some proteins and carbs. Add baked or sautéed pumfu, tempeh, roasted sweet potato chunks, lentils, or some crispy roasted chickpeas for extra crunch and protein. Additionally, you can add your favorite grain, like quinoa, for a hearty and satisfying dish.
- Sweeten it up. One of the ways to elevate the best kale salad recipe is to add dried fruit. Raisins are a great option, as well as cranberries. Also, diced apples are a great way to balance out the salad with a touch of tart sweetness.
- Don't make it too far in advance. Because baby kale wilts, this salad is best served right after making it. However, if you're pressed for time and must do some meal prep in advance, you can make the dressing and keep it in the refrigerator until it's needed. Add it to the salad when you're ready to serve.
- Baby kale substitute. If you can't find baby kale, feel free to substitute with organic salad greens from the grocery aisle, arugula, or Lacinato kale (you'll have to remove the tough stems, chop the leaves and let them marinate a bit in the dressing).
- Turn it into a different side dish. If you have leftovers from the best kale salad recipe, you can enjoy it again as a different dish! Just lightly sauté the leftover salad in a skillet and serve it with pasta or in a grain bowl. This also makes for a tasty vegetarian pizza topping.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can you eat raw kale in a salad?
Yes, it's okay to eat raw kale in a salad, but in moderation. It largely depends on your digestive system. Some people have a hard time digesting raw kale, and some do not.
Is kale salad good for weight loss?
Yes! As a nutrient-dense, low-calorie food, kale makes an excellent addition to a weight loss diet.
How do you make kale less bitter for salad?
For the best kale salad recipe, remove the stems of the greens and massage the leaves with olive oil and salt to help reduce bitterness. Using a good salad dressing also helps. With the right combination of sweet, salty and sour flavors, it will balance any bitter flavor.
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MORE SALAD RECIPES TO TRY!
- This winter crunch salad is too yummy for words!
- You will love this easy mason jar salad with three absolutely delicious recipes to try out.
- This may be the tastiest dressing for arugula salad that you'll ever come across.
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