My Favorite Kale Salad is the perfect marriage of crunch, assortment of textures, sweetness, tartness, savoriness, and everything that makes a salad completely crave-worthy. A mixture of kale and spring greens, nutty quinoa, toasted almonds, sweet & chewy dates, salty feta, punchy red onion, tart apples, chickpeas, and the best champagne maple dijon vinaigrette makes this salad worthy of the “favorite” title!
In true January fashion, I am sharing one of my favorite hearty, everything-but-boring salads. There will be no sad, wimpy salads here. I’m only interested in the incredibly crunchy, texture-filled, multi-component salads such as this “favorite kale salad”. I don’t typically call it “my” favorite kale salad, as that would be WAY too hard to narrow down, but it’s often the most requested kale salad I make for family and friends.
My idea of the best salad, kale or not, begins with a base of 2+ different greens.
This one is a mixture of curly kale and spring mix, but you can also substitute/add any of your favorite greens. There’s something about using multiple different types of greens in a salad that makes it exponentially more interesting and delicious. Arugula and romaine would be lovely additions.
The next best part of this salad is obviously ALL of the amazing mix-ins:
- Quinoa – I enjoy adding quinoa to this kale salad to bulk it up a little bit and make it more satiating. Farro, brown rice, freekeh, or lentils would also be delicious!
- Chickpeas – Another good source of plant-based protein and fiber. Love them in a salad.
- Dates – Similar to adding dried cranberries, cherries, or golden raisins in a salad, I love chopping up several dates and adding them in for some sweetness!
- Toasted almonds – There’s nothing like freshly toasted slivered almonds in a salad. The crunch is hard to beat and they add SUCH a toasty (for lack of a better word) deliciousness to this salad.
- Feta – Enough said. Can’t have enough of the creamy, salty goodness!
- Red onion – Love that punchy bite! Thinly sliced shallots would also work well here.
- Granny Smith apple – I may be in the minority here, but I love the tartness and crispness of a good ol’ Granny Smith. I grew up eating them pretty much every day. I’ll never turn down a Honeycrisp however – which would also be delicious here!
- The BEST champagne maple dijon vinaigrette – you may want to make a double batch 🙂
So, about the champagne maple dijon vinaigrette.
It shakes up really simply in a jar. All you need are the below ingredients:
- champagne vinegar
- pure maple syrup
- dijon mustard
- finely chopped shallot
- extra virgin olive oil
- salt & pepper
I’ve made many a variation of this vinaigrette, and you can’t go wrong with this formula. White balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, and honey can all be used as substitutes in a pinch. A good squeeze of lemon is always a nice addition as well!
This is the kind of salad that can sit for a bit and not get soggy. That being said, I still like to keep all of the ingredients separate, and toss them together before serving.
Same goes for if you’re making this for lunches for the week. I like to clean and chop my kale ahead of time, chop up my dates, toast the almonds, thinly slice the red onion, make the vinaigrette, etc., so assembly comes really easily when lunchtime rolls around.
If you love this kale salad, you will also love these recipes:
Fall Orzo Salad
Winter Salad with Rosemary Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Bacon, and Pear
Wild Rice Salad with Orange Maple Vinaigrette
Fall Harvest Salad with Maple Dijon Vinaigrette
Honeycrisp Arugula Date Farro Salad
Roasted Cauliflower Kale Salad with Dried Cherries, Walnuts, and Feta
Spinach Arugula Salad with Roasted Fennel and Tangelos
Shaved Brussels Kale Salad with Butternut Squash, Mandarins, and Candied Pistachios
Crispy Lentil Salad with Arugula and Garlic Yogurt Sauce
AND DON’T FORGET TO SHARE A PHOTO ON INSTAGRAM AND TAG ME @SPICESINMYDNA IF YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE! NOTHING MAKES ME HAPPIER THAN SEEING WHAT YOU CREATE IN THE KITCHEN!
Favorite Kale Salad
My Favorite Kale Salad is the perfect marriage of crunch, assortment of textures, sweetness, tartness, savoriness, and everything that makes a salad completely crave-worthy. A mixture of kale and spring greens, nutty quinoa, toasted almonds, sweet & chewy dates, salty feta, punchy red onion, tart apples, chickpeas, and the best champagne maple dijon vinaigrette makes this salad worthy of the "favorite" title!
For the salad
- 1 medium bundle curly kale, de-stemmed and chopped (about 5-6 cups)
- 3-4 cups spring greens or arugula
- 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
- 1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 5-6 medjool dates, pitted and chopped
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta
- 1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
- 1 Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced
- 1/4 of a medium red onion, very thinly sliced
- salt and pepper to taste
For the champagne maple dijon vinaigrette
- 3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Begin by making the vinaigrette. Add all ingredients to a jar fitted with a lid, in the order listed. Shake vigorously until the vinaigrette comes together. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if desired.
Toast the almonds. In a dry skillet over medium-low heat, add the almonds and toast, watching carefully, shimmying the pan frequently, until golden brown. Add to a small bowl and set aside.
Add the kale to a large mixing bowl. Add a few tablespoons of the dressing along with a good pinch of salt and a few cranks of black pepper. Massage the dressing into the kale, until the leaves become softer and reduced in volume.
Add the spring greens to the kale and toss. Add the quinoa, chickpeas, dates, feta, toasted almonds, apple, red onion, desired amount of vinaigrette, a couple pinches of salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Toss to combine. Serve with extra vinaigrette.