This Chopped Kale Salad with Cranberries recipe is filled with curly kale, toasted almonds, and salty parmesan cheese and massaged until tender. Made with a bright honey lemon vinaigrette this easy salad will make you fall in love with this superfood all over again.
Chopped Kale Salad with Cranberries
Chopped Kale Salad with Cranberries that is massaged to tender perfection is one of my all-time favorite recipes. I’ve always been kind of obsessed with the beautiful chopped kale salads served in restaurants and this one is my copycat version of a local Asheville restaurant - Well Bred bakery. Both theirs and my salad are made with hearty curly kale leaves that are massaged until tender and then filled with the rather simple combination of tart cranberries, savory toasted almond slices, and salty parmesan cheese.
The dressing is a simple homemade lemon vinaigrette featuring a touch of honey and rich olive oil. There's nothing too fancy about it, but wow the combination of flavors and textures is pure magic in a bowl.
Plus you have to love a salad that's naturally gluten-free!
Whether you serve this as a side dish or meal, you are sure to love this simple and hearty salad that is served in perfect bite-sized pieces.Chopped Kale Salad with Cranberries Click To Tweet
Why You'll Love this Chopped Kale Salad with Cranberries...
- This Chopped Kale Salad with cranberries is the kind of salad that makes kale enjoyable to eat! The kale is massaged until tender and so tasty!
- One of my favorite parts of the salad is the kale holds up in the fridge with the dressing on very well. Kale - even with dressing on it - can be made ahead of time and doesn't get soggy for a few days.
- This salad is packed with nutrition thanks to the kale. Keep reading for all the health benefits you'll get from kale.
- It's quick and easy. The entire kale salad recipe can be made in less than 10 minutes.
- A lot of salads feature fussy ingredients, but this one uses just a few, easy-to-find ingredients. It really lets simple flavors shine!
- It's great as a year-round salad BUT it's especially nice to serve in the winter when other fresh veggies may be harder to come by.
Here's an overview of what you'll need to make the Chopped Kale Salad with Cranberries. Keep reading the recipe card for the full recipe amounts.
For the Salad:
- Curly Kale: I like to use curly kale for the Chopped Kale Salad because of its hearty flavor and rich texture. It can be tough to eat, but massaging before assembling the salad will make it tender and soft. Keep reading my instructions on how to massage the kale properly to make the salad. You can also make this salad with dinosaur kale also kale Tuscan kale or lacinato kale. You can buy curly kale pre-chopped in bags, but for this salad, I like to buy it in bunches like shown below so you make sure all the stems are fully removed and cut it into smaller ribbons than they do in the bags.
- Almonds: Slivered almonds are perfect in this salad. I like to buy plain slivered ones and toast them myself for the freshest flavor. To prep, the almonds just pop them on a pan in the toaster oven for 2-4 minutes or until they are slightly browned and fragrant. If you don't have a toaster oven, do the same thing with your oven set to 350 degrees.
- Parmesan Cheese: Salty parmesan cheese compliments this salad perfectly. You can shred your own or buy pre-shredded parmesan cheese.
- Cranberries: Tart cranberries are the key ingredient in this salad. The sweetness of the dried cranberries balances out the other flavors in this dish. It's a perfect way to use dried fruit.
For the Dressing:
- Olive Oil: Use extra virgin olive oil that is good for salad dressings. You'll want a high-quality one since this salad has just a few ingredients and it's the base for the dressing. Here's an easy-to-find olive oil that I like to use for homemade dressings.
- Lemon: Bright lemon is the perfect addition to the dressing. Use freshly squeezed lemon.
- Honey: Just a touch of honey balances out the sour lemon, brings out the other flavors in the salad, and helps make the kale tender to eat.
- Salt and Pepper to Taste
Health Benefits of Kale:
Curious about how good this Chopped Kale Salad with Cranberries is for you? Check out these health benefits.
- Kale is one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat.
- It's rich in vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin B6, Manganese, Calcium, Copper, and potassium.
- Kale is high in antioxidants!
- It's only 33 calories a cup and has 3 grams of plant-based protein.
- Below is a photo of curly kale with its bright green leaves with ruffled edges. This is exactly what I like to use to make this salad.
How to Prepare Kale for Salad:
- For my Chopped kale Salad with Cranberries, start with a bunch of curly kale. Wash the kale and dry it. I pat the kale dry so it will absorb the oil and lemon well.
- Use your fingers and hold the stem. Carefully rip the leaves off the tough ribs or stem as shown below.
- Take those leaves and bunch them up like a basil chiffonade. Using a shark knife, cut the kale into ¼-inch stripes.
- The biggest trick for this Chopped Kale Salad with cranberries is to massage the kale. Once the kale is chopped add the olive oil, lemon, honey, pinch of salt, and pepper to the chopped kale and then massage it. Use your hands and literally massage the kale until it's tender and the dressing coats every piece. Pretend you are rubbing someone's shoulders for 2-3 minutes. You want the kale to start to break down some so it is not as rough and bitter to eat. You are physically breaking down the tough fibers when you do this. It will look like the kale below.
- Then let the kale and dressing sit in the fridge for at least ten minutes to do the magic. Now your kale is massaged and ready to make the kale salad!
How to Make Kale Salad:
- To make the Chopped Kale Salad with Cranberries toss the massaged kale with the dried cranberries, toasted almonds, parmesan cheese, and dried cranberries.
- In a large bowl, toss until well combined.
- Serve immediately or store in the fridge in an airtight container until ready to serve.
I love this Chopped Kale Salad with Cranberries as written, but here are some other delicious variations.
- Mix up the Kale: Instead of curly kale use dinosaur kale.
- Mix up the Nuts: This would also be good with pine nuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, or pecans.
- Add More Veggies: I kept this kale salad recipe simple, but you can make it more flavorful too. Add other hearty vegetables like chopped broccoli, shredded carrots, red onion, avocado, green cabbage, shredded brussels sprouts, and red cabbage.
- Add Fresh Fruit: You can also add fresh fruit like chopped oranges, apples, or grapes. If you can't find craisins or dried cranberries, raisins will also work.
- Mix up the Cheese: Replace the parmesan with feta cheese or goat cheese.
- Mix up the Dressing: There are lots of different options for kale salad dressing. You can also make this with my Lemon Tahini Dressing, Homemade Honey Mustard, Red Wine Vinaigrette, or Apple Cider Vinegar Vinaigrette. Whisk together the dressing in a small bowl before you drizzle it into the salad.
- Make it a Vegan Kale Salad: Replace the parmesan cheese with nutritional yeast and the honey with maple syrup.
- Make it a Meal: Add some protein like chicken, fish, shrimp, or tofu.
How do you store kale salad?
Store the Chopped Kale Salad with cranberries in an airtight container in the fridge for up 3-4 days. The hearty salad actually can sit with the dressing on it!
Can I make this salad for meal prep?
Hearty curly kale is actually the perfect base for a salad that is used for meal prep. It can be dressed and stored ahead of time.
Can you eat raw kale in a salad?
Yes! Eating raw kale is perfectly healthy. Curly kale can be a bit tough though so I recommend dressing the salad and massaging as I described in the instructions. That gives the kale a much more desirable tender texture. Massaging the kale also helps get the bitterness out of the kale salad.
This Chopped Kale Salad with Cranberries is Massaged to Perfection!
This Chopped Kale Salad with Cranberries is perfection! The tender massaged kale pairs perfectly with these simple ingredients for a salad you can enjoy for the holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Easter) or just for a weekday meal. It's the perfect side dish or lunch salad. And I love that chopping the salad gives you delightful small bites for easy eating.
This go-to recipe is a favorite of mine and I know you will love it too. Give it a try and let me know what you think.
Make it a Meal:
- Blackened Mahi Mahi
- Oven Roasted Salmon
- Lemon Pepper Tilapia
- Grilled Lemon Shrimp Skewers
- Crab Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
- Spinach and Three Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms
Chopped Kale Salad with Cranberries Click To Tweet
- More Kale Salads to Try:
- Kale Ceasar Salad
- Kale Strawberry & Goat Cheese Salad
- Baked Salmon with Kale Salad
- Kale and Wheat Berry Salad
- Summer Berry Kale Salad
If you make this Chopped Kale Salad with Cranberries recipe, I’d love to hear what you think! Leave a comment and a star rating ★ below. Make sure to follow me on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook too!
Chopped Kale Salad with Cranberries
- Wash the kale well and remove the hard stems from the kale.
- Pat dry.
- Roll the remaining leaves like a basil chiffonade and cut the kale into ½ inch strips.
- Put kale in a big bowl and add the lemon juice, olive oil, and honey. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Massage kale well until all leaves are evenly coated and the leaves start to break down. The kale will reduce in size by a quarter to a half.
- Put kale in the fridge and allow to chill for at least ten minutes.
- While kale is in the fridge, toast the almonds in a pan for 3-4 minutes or until fragrant.
- Remove the kale from the fridge and add the almonds, parmesan, and cranberries. Mix well.
- Serve immediately or this salad stores well to eat later.
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