You’re going to love this delicious massaged kale salad. Topped with pecans, pears, and pomegranates and tossed with orange poppy seed dressing, it’s a delicious and festive winter salad.
This post was originally published on September 12, 2014. Last updated November 20, 2019
When wintertime hits, too often salads are completely forgotten about.
They are replaced with soups and all the vegan pasta dishes and while those are wonderful (what would winter be without Pumpkin and Cashew Ricotta Stuffed Shells??) we can’t forget to keep eating our leafy greens.
That is why I’m over here loving on one of my favorite dark leafy green vegetables today. That’s right, I’m talking about you, kale. Not only does kale provide the perfect base for fall and winter salads, but also it’s one of the most nutrient-dense foods making it one of the BEST superfoods.
Benefits of Kale
Don’t believe me? Here are just a few reasons that I absolutely love kale. It:
- is high in fiber
- helps neutralize inflammation
- is an excellent source of Vitamin C
- is loaded with immunity-boosting vitamins
- and is filled with antioxidants
But, most importantly, kale is delicious, hearty, and perfect for this massaged kale salad.
Ingredients in Massaged Kale Salad
This Winter Kale Salad is made from wholesome, winter-harvest, nutrient-dense ingredients. It’s the perfect salad for your holiday meals or to go alongside a soup potluck. The ingredients for this kale salad are:
- Red Onion
- Orange Poppy Seed Dressing
That’s it! Just whole foods that are delicious and good for you! Now, let’s take a look at how to make this kale salad.
How to make Massaged Kale Salad
Not only is this salad packed with delicious foods that will leave you feeling great and festive, but this salad is also SUPER EASY to make. It can be made in just about 10 minutes for a wholesome and hearty midday meal.
Step one – Massage the kale
As we’ve talked about, this salad starts with a base of kale.
When eating raw kale, it’s important that we give it a gentle massage. A simple massage helps to break down the toughness and bitterness while releasing sweetness and tenderness into the leaves, greatly enhancing the flavor and texture.
How to massage the kale
Fortunately, massaging kale is really easy. First, you’ll want to chop the kale finely and place it in a large bowl. Next, drizzle it with a little olive oil and salt. The oil and salt help break down the leaf’s toughness allowing it to tenderize even more.
As you massage the kale you will notice the leaves get more vibrantly green with a bit of silky shine. The kale will also shrink in volume as the leaves tenderize. (See pictures above)
Step Two – Toss in the remaining ingredients
Add the remaining ingredients. That’s all the pears, pecans, avocados, and pomegranates. Vegetables and fruits can easily be swapped out or omitted altogether. A few quick variation suggestions:
- Swap out the pear for apple
- Can’t find pomegranate? Cranberries are a great alternative
- Pecans, walnuts, and hazelnuts can be used interchangeably
- If you don’t like raw onion, omit it altogether
Step 3 – Mix together the Orange Poppy Seed Dressing.
In a jar with a lid (I like to use 6oz Mason jars) combine the ingredients for the Orange Poppy Seed Dressing. Tightly seal the lid and vigorously shake the salad dressing until it is well combined.
The salad dressing will separate as it settles, so just make sure to give it a good shake before tossing it in with the winter kale salad.
Serving and storing the vegan kale salad
- This is a big salad. On its own, it is enough for 2 servings. It will serve 4 if you’re serving it as part of a larger meal.
- Feel free to swap out different vegetables and nuts. Here are a few suggestions to consider.
- Store leftover salad in the refrigerator for up to 1 day. Store salad dressing separating for up to 2 weeks.
Can this be made in advance?
I do not recommend making this salad too far in advance. However, if you are prepping for a big meal, the salad dressing can be made several days ahead of time. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you’re ready to assemble the salad.
More vegan kale salad recipes
As you may have picked up, I LOVE my kale salads. Here are a few more of my favorite kale salad recipes:
- Kale Caesar Salad
- Warm Kale Salad with Curried Cauliflower
- Lemon Tahini Kale Salad with Cheesy Chickpeas
- Winter Kale Salad with Orange Poppy Seed Dressing
Sound delicious? Let’s stay healthy this winter with this big winter massaged kale salad.
You're going to love this delicious massaged kale salad. Topped with pecans, pears, and pomegranates and tossed with orange poppy seed dressing, it's a delicious and festive winter salad.
Keyword: Kale Salad
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 267 kcal
Author: Sarah McMinn
- 6 cups curly kale, chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup pomegranate arils
- 1/2 small avocado, diced
- 1/2 pear, thinly sliced
- 1/4 medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup toasted pecans
In a jar with a lid, combine the ingredients for the Orange Poppy Seed Dressing. Tightly seal the lid and vigorously shake the salad dressing until it is well combined. Set aside.
Chop kale and place it in a large salad bowl along with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Gently massage the kale between your fingers for 2-3 minutes until the kale is darker, tender, and shiny.
Add the remaining salad ingredients into the massaged kale and toss to combine. Add the desired amount of salad dressing to the salad and toss together. Serve immediately.
Leftover salad dressing can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.