This beautiful sizeable green kale apple salad is full of flavors, combining sweet with hearty while the texture is creamy and crunchy at the same time. Massaging this famously healthy food with a hearty homemade Avocado Pesto is going to make you enjoy a kale salad in a whole new way. It is nourishing, super healthy, delicious, and easy to prepare!
I love large green salads and regularly serve them at the dinner table. If you know a couple of tasty salad recipes, dinner, or lunch ideas become a whole lot easier. A healthy sharing portion like this recipe can be ready in less than 15 minutes and pairs with just about anything.
TIPS FOR MAKING A HEALTHY KALE SALAD RECIPE:
How to buy kale
For raw salads, I use either baby kale leaves or the Lacinato, best known as the dinosaur kale, because I find their taste slightly sweeter than the curly kale. You have to find out for yourself which one you prefer. Occasionally I enjoy curly kale too, but I use it more often in soups. Whichever you pick, always choose fresh bunches with deep colors—avoid leaves that appeared to be dried out. The stems should be plump and juicy.
Chop the kale
The texture is as important as taste. Kale leaves taste weird when not chopped—just my humble opinion. I prefer to cut them very finely. It becomes so much easier to massage this vegetable and combine them with other ingredients. I know that a lot of kale salad recipes recommend removing the greens from the stems and omit the latter. But I never do except for the bulkier and larger portion of the stems—it's a bit difficult to chew. When chopped very finely, fleshy stalks can add great crunchiness to the salad. It is, of course, a personal preference.
Always massage the kale
It takes only a few minutes to massage the kale in the pesto dressing or some olive oil using your hands, and it ultimately changes its structure. It brings out the sweetness of this vegetable and makes harder or crunchier parts softer and lighter.
Toss in some apples or other crunchy fruits or vegetables
There are so many great ingredients that you can add to a kale salad, like chopped hard cheese, nuts, etc. But my favorites are green apples or pomegranate seeds. The sweet and slightly sour taste of these fruits surprisingly pops into your mouth and compliments the dark leafy greens. In this salad, we also toss in fresh cucumbers, which add a refreshing and more cooling taste, especially when paired with a homemade creamy pesto recipe.
HOW TO MAKE A GREAT DRESSING FOR KALE SALAD
There are two ways I often enjoy crunchy raw kale at home. Either with a simple olive oil-based dressing or with a homemade Basil Pesto recipe. They both are super easy to make and take almost no time to put together. So, let's have a look.
An oil-based dressing
- Simply massage this vegetable in a little bit of olive oil (about one tablespoon) for a couple of minutes to soften the texture.
- Add a little bit of salt to taste.
- Then add some lemon juice (about one tablespoon)
- Toss in the cucumber and apple pieces, and you already have a great salad.
A creamy pesto dressing
- But more often than not, I like to massage it in my homemade pesto recipe made with fresh avocado and other hearty ingredients to make the kale super creamy.
- This pesto recipe is put together in minutes, so I always make it ad hoc.
- But feel free to make it ahead and enjoy for whenever you want to add some pizzazz to raw salads or plates of pasta.
- Store in an airtight container or sealed mason jar and refrigerate for up to 3 or 4 days.
- avocado: this is the base of this vegan pesto dressing, and it is all you need to make it super creamy.
- Garlic: the amount is not going to overpower the pesto taste, but it is just enough to give it a little zip.
- Roasted, salted sunflower seeds: it replaces nuts in this dressing, but still gives you that mild nutty flavor. Roasted seeds enhance the taste.
- Extra virgin olive oil: you can go a bit lighter on the olive oil if preferred, but this pesto needs some fat to compliment the herbal flavors and help coat the vegetable.
- Lemon juice: adds a bright, refreshing citrusy element.
- Dried Basil: when you have fresh sweet Basil on hand, feel free to use a few leaves instead. But if not, dried Basil works just as well. It will be a tad mintier in flavor.
A FEW WORDS ABOUT KALE NUTRITION
Kale is a member of the nutritious cruciferous vegetables and is packed with essential vitamins, especially vitamins A, K, C, and B vitamins. It is notably rich in the mineral manganese. But it is also an excellent source of calcium. I include this vegetable regularly into my family's diet, mainly because it is one of the few dark greens that are exceptionally versatile. It is also a sturdy vegetable that withstands heat well and, therefore, great to add to soups or make kale chips.
This kale apple salad is one of my favorite raw green side dishes, and I often enjoy it with:
- Either a quick-seared or oven-roasted salmon, grilled meat, or white fish.
- Or pair it with my slow cooker beef short ribs.
- Sometimes I toss some crumbled hard-boiled eggs on top or a can of tuna. And, voila, you have a quick and easy lunch or light dinner!
- Want to keep it vegan? Serve it with my Savory Veggie Fritters, pair it with a protein-rich soup, or just toss in some canned garbanzo beans—all good options.
If you follow a low carb, paleo diet, this is one of the kale salad recipes that you want to have in your kitchen repertoire.
Note: if you are on a ketogenic diet, omit the apple!
I hope you will enjoy this recipe and also check out some of my other salads like the Citrusy Kale, Fennel, and Salmon Salad with Mozzarella.
Want to try this apple kale salad? Then PIN IT to your Vegetable or Gluten-free board to save for later! Come and find me on Pinterest for more great recipes! And don't forget to subscribe to my monthly newsletter! Enjoy!
This healthy apple kale salad is deliciously creamy. Massaged with homemade avocado pesto, slightly sweetened with green apples, and filled with crunchy cucumbers, this salad is filling and incredibly satisfying!
TO MAKE THE PESTO:
- 1 Avocado
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 tablespoons roasted, salted sunflower seeds
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ½ lemon, juiced
- 1 tablespoon dried Basil
TO MAKE THE SALAD
- 7 large Dinosaur Kale leaves (or more as preferred), finely chopped
- 1 green apple, chopped
- ½ European cucumber, peeled and chopped
MAKE THE PESTO:
Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend on high speed until you have a beautiful green paste, set aside.
MAKE THE SALAD:
Place the kale in a large bowl. Add the pesto and start massaging the green paste into the kale to soften the vegetable and until the pesto is evenly divided (a few minutes.) Add the cucumber and apples. Toss to combine. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Add only ½ apple if you prefer your salad less sweet.
(Note: this post was initially published in May 2018. This post has been updated to include new info)