A flavorful and nutritious kale salmon salad with fennel, parsley, sweet oranges, and mozzarella cheese, combined with wild-caught (canned) or leftover baked or grilled salmon, tossed in an easy-to-make citrusy homemade dressing with dijon mustard and healthy fats.
It's one of those delicious meals that come together in 20 minutes, yet incredibly filling and satisfying.
This is a great go-to dish for when you have little time to cook or want to keep it simple.
Why you'll love this salmon kale salad recipe
- This hearty salad can become your go-to meal when you have a jam-packed schedule.
- You can choose canned salmon or use up salmon fillets you cooked the day before or over the weekend.
- It's filling and nourishing for lunch or light dinner.
- And because this easy kale salad keeps well in the fridge, it can equally serve as a nourishing pack-for-lunch option that you can prepare in advance.
Ingredients, notes & substitutions
KALE: For this kale salmon salad recipe, I prefer Dinosaur or Lacinato kale over curly kale. I find this variety of dark leafy greens to be richer with earthier flavors. But don't worry, regardless of which kale you choose or prefer, it'll work in this salad.
FENNEL: The mild anise-flavored vegetable adds a subtle sweet crunch-like quality. Either slice or shave it thinly to add a refreshing sweet bite to the citrusy flavors.
Fennel, in my opinion, is such an underrated vegetable. It is high in nutrition, low in calories, and helps with digestion. This hydrating vegetable is crunchy, mildly sweet, and tastes fantastic with orange. Don't let the subtle anise-like flavor put you off from incorporating raw fennel more in your salads—if you don't like licorice. Just don't use the stalks if that's you, but give the fennel bulb a try. Also, try my quick-braised fennel recipe; it's tender, deliciously soft, and sweet.
MOZZARELLA CHEESE: This delicate milky-flavored cheese marries best in this recipe when chopped into smaller pieces or shaved— I use the wide sides of a box grater. The subtle creaminess adds a nice texture to each bite.
Want more of a sharper and savory flavor? Use shaved parmesan cheese instead.
PARSLEY: Although you will hardly notice the taste of this herb, I suggest adding a bit of fresh parsley. It beautifully balances all the flavors.
CANNED OR LEFTOVER BAKED SALMON: Have any leftovers from my Buttery Wild Salmon Recipe? Toss it in this salad to make a whole new dish. But it's equally good with canned salmon.
Note: I like the Wild Planet wild Sockeye salmon—skinless and boneless. It is conveniently ready to serve, and the firm texture of the pink fish pairs wonderfully with soft and moist fresh Mozzarella. Just crumble or chop the fish into small pieces before tossing it in.
The homemade salad dressing is simple and healthy yet bold in flavor. All you need is the following:
- The juice of half an orange (about 5 tablespoons).
- Fresh lemon juice (about two tablespoons).
- One teaspoon of Dijon mustard—use a bit more if you like a zippier dressing.
- One tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.
- Stir the ingredients and pour over the salad for a fresh citrusy, and punchy taste.
- Then season the salad to taste with a sprinkle of salt and royally with black pepper.
How to prep kale for salad
Never dabbled in making raw kale salads before? This is for you. It's easy, but please don't skip this step because it turns this vegetable into tender sweet greens.
- Wash and quickly remove tough and fibrous stems (tough cell structure). You don't want them in this salad recipe.
- Shred the leaves into small pieces or chop them into bits and place them in a large bowl.
- Coat those teared-up leaves with a bit of olive oil, and then with your hand, briefly massage the kale leaves until they turn more vibrant green and start to soften.
- Please don't overdo it, though. About 30 seconds is more than enough until the leaves become dark green and have somewhat softened to make them worthy of this salad.
Quick note: if you are meal-prepping this kale salmon salad and not planning on serving it immediately, massaging isn't necessary. The citrus juice of the fruits in the dressing will break down the kale's fibrous structure as massaging does.
To make this kale salmon salad great, always chop, slice, or grate the ingredients into small pieces because it changes this salad's texture and makes it extra tasty.
And as you know, a salad's texture is equally important as the flavors.
Store the rest of the salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
How to pack this for grab-and-go lunch
- The dressed kale salad keeps well in the refrigerator for a couple of days and packs easily in individual containers.
- You can always make some extra dressing to take with you.
- Pack it with a wedge of lemon or orange to add that extra citrusy punch.
- Or keep some sea salt flakes in your lunch bag to perk up your salad.
- Don't forget some paper towels.
What to serve with this chopped kale salad
This kale salmon salad recipe is filling enough as-is. But here are a few pairing ideas that we love at home:
- Toasted (gluten-free) slices of bread topped with a drizzle of olive oil.
- Turn it into a kale sandwich. We love the Ezekiel sprouted buns, toasted. Make sure you coat the buns with a little bit of olive oil.
- Serve with your favorite crackers or avocado oil potato chips.
- Roasted seaweed sheets always work. I love the gimMe organic Big sheets.
- For a fuller meal, I sometimes serve it with my oven-baked Jamaican curry seasoned potatoes or mashed cauliflower to keep it low carb. DELICIOUS.
Substitutions & add-ons
- Instead of rich salmon, try other lean proteins such as leftover shredded chicken or oven-roasted chicken.
- Make it dairy-free by replacing the mozzarella cheese with slices of avocado.
- For a sharper flavor, use parmesan cheese.
- You can also toss in pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or roasted pistachios.
- For an extra spicy crunch, add a small, thinly sliced red onion.
- Make it with baby kale for its peppery flavor.
- Choose green onions instead of parsley.
- Choose a healthy caesar dressing or oil and vinaigrette dressing to switch things up.
These are all great options and different ways to flavor this amazingly simple kale salmon salad.
Please let me know how this recipe turns out for you in the comments! I love hearing from you.
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Citrusy Kale Salmon SaladMariska Ramondino
- 10 large dinosaur kale leaves (or 1 small bunch of kale) thick stems removed and finely chopped or teared into small pieces.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 3 cups thinly sliced fennel 320 grams or about 1 medium-large fennel bulb
- ½ cup loosely packed parsley curly leaf, finely chopped
- 1 can wild-caught canned salmon, finely chopped, or use one to 1 ½ cup of leftover baked salmon 6 ounces/170 grams
- 1 large orange cut in half and divided
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice or juice of 1 lemon
- ½ cup finely chopped or shaved fresh Mozzarella cheese 100 grams
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 to 2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard
Make the Salad
- Remove thick stems from the kale leaves by holding the stem ends and tearing the leafy parts off in one swooping motion. Discard the stems.
- Either finely chop or tear with your hands the leafy parts of the kale into small pieces.
- Place the kale in a large bowl and coat with one tablespoon of olive oil.
- Massage the kale until the leaves become deep green, tender, and soft (about 30 seconds to one minute).
- Toss in the fennel, parsley, chopped salmon, and mozzarella cheese. Reserve a few mozzarella pieces for garnish.
- Take one-half of the orange. Remove the peel and cut away as much of the white pit as possible. Then chop the peeled orange and toss it into the kale salad.
Make the Dressing
- Use a citrus hand juicer to juice the other half of the orange and the lemon.
- Stir in the Dijon mustard and one tablespoon of olive oil
- Pour the citrusy dressing over the kale salmon salad.
- Season to taste with sea salt and royally with freshly cracked black pepper.
- Toss gently to combine.
- Transfer the salad to a large serving plate or salad bowl.
- Garnish with the reserved slices of mozzarella.
- Serve and enjoy!
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Nutrition (% Daily value)
Disclaimer: This nutritional data is calculated using third party tools and is only intended as a reference.