A flavorful and delicious raw kale salad with fennel, parsley, mozzarella cheese, wild-caught salmon, tossed in olive oil, lemon, and orange juice dressing—a nutritious lunch or light dinner idea! Plus, everything comes together in 15 minutes.
Kale. It's that vegetable that my mom used to throw into hot steaming potatoes together with Brussels Sprouts and butter to make Mash Pot or 'Stamppot' as we called it growing up in Belgium. And then it was served with either sauerkraut, homemade apple sauce—for the little ones—and bits of crispy bacon.
It's still one of those dishes I can easily devour, but then again, I grew up with it as a staple. It's not that kind of recipe today. Did I hear you breathe a sigh of relief?
But I hope you love kale, and if you have not yet tried it raw and massaged in a dressed-up salad, I hope to convince you to give this a go. And for those who love this green vegetable just as much as I do, this kale salmon combo is definitely for you.
This salads' design is simple, really. But it's filling, and its flavors are refreshing with an easy-to-make citrusy homemade dressing. It has lately been my go-to dish when I want to offer something nourishing for lunch at the family table but have little time to cook.
It's also perfect for meal prepping if you have a jam-packed schedule.
- This dressed kale salad keeps well in the refrigerator for a couple of days and packs easy in individual containers for a grab-and-go lunch.
- You can always make some extra dressing to take with you.
- Pack it with a wedge of lemon to add that extra citrusy punch.
- Or keep some sea salt flakes in your lunch bag to perk up your salad.
I often choose canned salmon, but it's a great way to use up any oven-baked salmon leftovers you cooked the day before or over the weekend.
Lastly, make this if you want something nourishing and filling for dinner but don't want to feel heavy afterward. You know what I mean when you have overindulged a bit during the weekends or the Holidays and want to get your body back on track.
A few notes on Ingredients and substitutions
Yes, there is a key step to how you make this kale salmon salad great. Just 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, the texture is equally important as the flavors.
I am also massaging the kale with some olive oil to make it tender and a lot more flavorsome. And it will ready the green leaves to take on the delicious flavors of the homemade dressing.
So, let's have a look at the ingredients and how to prep the kale.
For this recipe, I choose Dinosaur 'Lacinato' kale. It's just a personal preference. I find this kale variety to be richer with earthier flavors. But don't worry, regardless of which kale you choose or prefer, it'll work in this salad.
The mild anise-flavored vegetable adds a subtle sweet crunch-like quality. It works so well combined with kale when either finely sliced or thinly shaved and adds that refreshing bite that pairs well with the citrus 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 trying to incorporate 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.
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.
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 a perfect canned salmon recipe. 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.
How to prep the kale
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.
- Toss out the tough and fibrous stems. You don't want them in this salad recipe.
- Shred the leaves into small pieces or chop them into bits.
- Then briefly massage the kale leaves until they turn more vibrant green and start to soften.
How to remove stems from kale
Well, there are several ways.
- You can place each kale leaf flat on a kitchen board and cut along the stem with a knife, separating it from the leafy parts.
- You can also hold the top of the stem with one hand and, with the other, run your fingers along either side of the stem, ripping the leaves off in one swooping motion. A bit more imprecise, but it saves time.
- Or, do as shown in the pics and grab the stem with one hand, tear off the leafy parts first on one side, then switch hands and do the other side, staying close to the stem while your hands moving along down the leave until you reach the end—a bit gentler but equally effective.
How to massage the kale
Coat those teared up leaves with a bit of olive oil, and then start crunching them with your hand. Please don't overdo it, though. About thirty 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 prepping and dressing the chopped kale to let it rest in the fridge and you're not planning on serving it immediately, then massaging isn't necessary. The citrus juice of the fruits in the dressing will break down the kale's fibrous structure as massaging does.
Dress the salad
The homemade dressing is simple and healthy yet bold in flavors. All you need is:
- The juice of half an orange (or about 5 tablespoons);
- The juice of one lemon (or about two tablespoons);
- Half a teaspoon Dijon mustard—use a bit more if you like a zippier dressing;
- One tablespoon of olive oil;
- Stir the ingredients and pour over the salad for a fresh citrusy and punchy taste.
- Then season the salad to taste with salt and royally with pepper.
What goes well with this 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.
- Your favorite crackers or avocado oil potato chips.
- Roasted seaweed sheets. I love the gimMe organic Big sheets.
- For a fuller meal, I sometimes serve it with my oven-baked Jamaican curry seasoned potatoes. DELICIOUS.
More Salads or kale recipes you might like
Try this beautiful sweet kale-apple salad with creamy avocado pesto. This is another massaged kale salad recipe that is so easy to prepare. It's nourishing, super healthy, and full of sweet and hearty flavors.
Looking for a cozy and healthy movie night snack? Then this coconut and kale chip recipe is for you. It is light, crispy, and very addictive with its sweet-salty seasonings.
And whether you are looking for a side salad or satisfying lunch, try my nourishing mango-avocado salad. You can enjoy it as-is or pair it with boiled eggs, canned tuna, salmon, sardines, or cooked beans you have on hand.
Please let me know how this recipe turns out for you in the comments! I love hearing from you.
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- About 10 large kale leaves (dinosaur), (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 (about 1 medium-large fennel bulb)
- ½ cup loosely packed Parsley (curly leaf), finely chopped
- 1 (6 ounces/170 grams) can wild-caught salmon, finely chopped or use one to 1 ½ cup of leftover baked salmon
- 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
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ½ teaspoon 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!
The fresh hand-squeezed juices equate to about 5 tablespoons of orange juice and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice for the dressing.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 346Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 5gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 62mgSodium: 301mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 7gSugar: 8gProtein: 26g
Disclaimer: This nutritional data is calculated using third party tools and is only intended as a reference.