I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to give this a try. I’ve been wanting to find an easy kale salad recipe for forever, something I could put in my regular dinner rotation. And don’t roll your eyes…when done properly, kale can be totally delish.
When not done properly it’s a tough, chewy mess. Fear not, this is not that kale.
As I said above, I’ve been wanting to lock down a great basic kale salad for forever. But then I stalled and stalled…partly waiting to actually find lacinato kale in my grocery store (it’s like a unicorn!).
Finally I gave up and tried this with curly kale, and totally loved it. It’s such a simple combination of flavors, but can be super flexible depending on the ingredients you have and is equally great with either curly or dino/lacinato kale.
I have made a few tweaks to the original recipe, mostly to the dressing. I felt it had WAY too much lemon juice so I halved it, and also added a bit of dijon mustard for some creaminess and tanginess.
I love the fall feel this salad brings, but it’s honestly great any time of year. I also love that it takes less than 10 minutes to throw together.
Wash the kale and pat dry, then de-stem and slice finely. I just tear it off the stems myself, but have seen some cool things where you pull it through a colander recently too. Add to a large mixing bowl or salad bowl.
If you’re using curly kale, drizzle on a little olive oil and sprinkle of salt and pepper and lightly massage it for one minute to help break it down a little (so it’s not as tough and chewy).
Add the chopped pistachios, golden raisins, parmesan, and the lemon zest to the kale, and lightly toss everything together.
To make the dressing, you can use a mason jar, a small food processor, a handheld emulsion blender, or even just a whisk.
Add all the dressing ingredients to whichever you choose and whisk or blend until it emulsifies. I prefer a tiny food processor myself. Pour the dressing on the kale salad and toss well when you’re ready to serve, and serve room temperature or cold.
I recommend you don’t just chuck all the dressing in there at once, rather add a bit at a time and taste the salad to see what the right amount is…this does make a lot of dressing and you may not need all of it. If you’re using curly kale you can put the dressing on and store it that way, but if you’re using lacinato then don’t dress until you’re ready to serve (it’ll get soggy).
I’m stoked to find an easy kale salad that’s also satisfying and delicious—and this one brings a bright and healthy feeling to my meal. Because I had used the curly kale, it was also great and hearty leftovers. While I prefer the lacinato kale, curly may be a better option if you intend to have this as leftovers.
Other healthy side dishes you’ll love:
- Roasted Sweet Potato & Goat Cheese Salad with Roasted Shallot Dressing
- Za’atar Roasted Cauliflower with Pine Nuts, Dates, & Thyme
- Roasted Butternut Squash & Brussels Sprouts with Dijon Vinaigrette
- Grilled Zucchini with Lemon Salt
- Tahini Curry Broccoli Crunch Salad
- Easy Air Fryer Green Beans (Blistered Green Bean Fries)
- Pioneer Woman’s Crash Hot Potatoes
- Crispy Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic-Honey Drizzle
Adapted slightly from Pinch Me Good
There are a few kitchen tools that make this even easier: A cheese mill for easy grated parmesan, a microplane zester for your lemon zest, a handheld juicer for the lemon, and my tiny Cuisinart food processor that makes my life better all around.
- For the salad
- 2 bunches of dark, leafy kale (thinly sliced; see notes)
- 1/2 cup of golden raisins
- 1/2 cup of shredded parmesan cheese (fresh is best)
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup of pistachios, chopped
- For the lemon dressing
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of maple syrup or honey
- 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon of fresh-ground black pepper
- Wash the kale and pat dry, then de-stem and slice finely. Add to a large mixing bowl or salad bowl. If you're using curly kale, drizzle on a little olive oil and sprinkle of salt and pepper and lightly massage it for 1 minute to help break it down a little (so it's not as tough and chewy).
- Add the chopped pistachios, golden raisins, parmesan, and the lemon zest to the kale, and lightly toss everything together.
- To make the dressing, you can use a mason jar, a small food processor, a handheld emulsion blender, or even just a whisk. Add all the dressing ingredients to whichever you choose and whisk or blend until it emulsifies. I prefer a tiny food processor myself.
- Pour the dressing on the kale salad and toss well. Serve room temperature or cold. If you're using curly kale you can put the dressing on and store it that way, but if you're using lacinato then don't dress until you're ready to serve (it'll get soggy).
- If you don't have golden raisins, you can use dried cranberries or cherries, or anything else you prefer. Similarly, you can substitute pine nuts or other nuts for the pistachios. This is very much a "choose your own adventure" salad.
- I prefer dino or lacinato kale in general, but any kind will work. If you use curly kale, it can help to massage a little bit of olive oil into the kale first to soften it up. Curly kale will hold up better for leftovers, particularly if you're going to add the dressing it all at once.