This delicious massaged kale salad is crunchy and tasty with bursts of flavour in each mouthful, all doused in an umami rich mustard miso dressing. It looks so pretty with the glistening pomegranate seeds and the glossy glazed walnuts. This kale salad is perfect as a healthy yet indulgent vegan side dish for holiday parties! In fact, it would work well alongside my Decadent Nut Roast with Red Wine and Porcini Jus! The best thing about this salad is that it is quick and easy to make (even the easy maple candied walnuts) and, unlike most salads, it can be made ahead and left in the fridge until you’re ready to serve it!
Sometimes it can get a bit much eating lots of rich food over the Christmas period and I start craving salads and healthy food. This salad came about when I was trying to create something that would be healthy and delicious but also dazzling enough to serve at a party. It certainly ticks those boxes and went down a treat with my guests!
The bonus is that it’s also really easy to make and, because the kale is much sturdier than other salad leaves, you can make it in advance too! (In fact, it actually improves and softens with time!)
I’m going to call this "nutritional powerhouse salad" because it is chocka-block full of nutrients! This is a great way to get in your dark leafy greens that are so full of goodness (particularly, B vitamins, iron, calcium and fibre). You also get the bonus of a load of vitamin C from the apple and pomegranate and healthy omega 3 fatty acids in the walnuts. So, if you're feeling like your body needs a little loving, this is the dish for you! Nutrient rich food disguised as something less healthy!
- Salad ingredients: kale, celery, apple, radish, pomegranate, chia seeds.
- Dressing ingredients: extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, Dijon mustard, white miso paste, salt and pepper.
- Maple candied walnut ingredients: walnuts, maple syrup, water, salt.
Top Tips For Making The Best Kale Salad
- The most important thing to remember is that kale is tough! So it needs to be massaged to tease it into being soft and salad-like. This means you need to get your hands in there! Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the prepped and washed kale leaves and then literally massage the kale by rubbing the oil into each leaf. You need to massage it for about a minute to make sure that every leaf is covered and then leave it for a few hours so that the oil can work on the kale and break down those strong fibres to make them more palatable to eat raw in a salad. Watch the video below to see how to massage kale. If you make double the quantity, you can use half for making vegan cheesy crispy kale too!
- To prep the kale leaves, you need to wash them well by plunging into a bowl of water and swishing it around then lifting them out and drying in a salad spinner or shaking it in a colander and then drying in a clean tea towel. Next you need to remove the stem (and discard it). Either cut along either side of the stem to remove it or simply tear off the leaves from either side of it. Then cut the leaves into smaller, bite-sized pieces or tear them with your hands.
- I find the easiest way to get pomegranate seeds out of a pomegranate, is to halve the pomegranate across the middle, then halve again in the other direction. Then take each quarter and break it apart with your hands and gently push your thumbs against the creamy pithy bits to knock the seeds out of their spots.
This kale and apple salad can work well on its own as a main course or as a side salad too. Serve with some fried tempeh slices or roasted chickpeas for a crunchy addition of protein to make a filling main course or packed lunch. Or include it as the salad option alongside other mains such as this decadent chestnut nut roast as part of a holiday feast. This kale salad would also make a great potluck dish as it travels well and doesn't wilt as easily as other salads.
FAQs for this Kale Salad
These candied walnuts are super quick and easy to make. Measure one tablespoon each of maple syrup (or date syrup) and water into a small pan and add a pinch of salt. Put it over a high heat and let it come to the boil then add ½ cup of walnuts and stir over the heat until it goes dry and sticky (about 1 minute). Take out of the pan and let cool for a few minutes on a plate. It is literally that easy! Or you can make them in the air fryer by following this recipe for easy air fryer candied walnuts.
Yes! They make moreish snacks! Make double the recipe and keep the rest for snacking on! Or add some festive spices to the maple mixture and then serve in a bowl with drinks.
The best way to store salads is to keep the dressing separate until you’re ready to serve it. However, if you have leftovers after mixing the dressing in, you can keep this salad for another day in the fridge since the kale leaves are strong enough not to go too limp. The salad will not look as bright and fresh but it will still taste nice.
If you want to make the salad ahead of serving it, massage the kale and leave it covered in the fridge, mix the rest of the dressing ingredients and leave in a jar in the fridge (you can add it to the kale after it has softened). Chop the rest of the salad ingredients and store separately in the fridge. Make the maple candied walnuts up to 2-3 days ahead and store in an airtight container once they have fully cooled and gone crispy.
📖 Recipe 📖
Kale and Apple Salad with Maple Candied Walnuts & Pomegranate
- 200 g kale (regular curly green kale or Tuscan kale)
- 1 celery stick sliced thinly
- 1 apple (Granny Smiths) cored and sliced thinly
- 5 radishes sliced thinly
- ½ pomegranate (seeds only)
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1½ tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon white miso paste
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- salt and pepper
Maple Candied Walnuts
- 70 g walnuts halved
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup (or date syrup)
- 1 tablespoon water
- Pinch of salt
- Wash the kale well, then remove the stems and cut or tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces. Add the kale to a bowl with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Massage with your hands for 1 minute so that each piece of kale has had the oil and lemon juice rubbed into it. Leave, covered, in the fridge for 2-4 hours.200 g kale
- Make the candied walnuts: Place the maple syrup, water, and salt into a small non-stick pan and bring to the boil over a high heat. Once it starts to bubble, quickly add the walnuts and stir together so that each walnut is coated in the maple syrup mixture. Bubble on the heat for a couple of minutes until the water has boiled off and the walnut mixture becomes dry and sticky, then immediately empty onto a plate lined with baking paper and leave to cool for a few minutes.70 g walnuts, 1 tablespoon maple syrup (or date syrup), 1 tablespoon water, Pinch of salt
- Prep the rest of the salad ingredients and add to the bowl of kale.1 celery stick, 1 apple, 5 radishes, ½ pomegranate, 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- Make the dressing by adding all the ingredients into a jar, putting the lid on, and shaking vigorously (or whisk together in a jug).3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, 1½ tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon white miso paste, 1 teaspoon maple syrup, salt and pepper
- When ready to serve, mix the dressing into the salad ingredients (add just enough to your liking then serve the rest on the side or keep in a jar in the fridge to use another day) and scatter the walnuts on top.
- See the full blog post for tips on prepping kale and pomegranate.
- Serve as a wonderful side salad or serve as a main course with some fried tempeh strips or roasted chickpeas.
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More Salad Recipes
If you like this kale and apple salad recipe, you may like these other delicious vegan and gluten-free salad recipes too: