Fresh kale salad with cranberries can be enjoyed during the festive time or as a healthy salad all year round.
The salad is marinated in a simple dressing.
What is Kale?
Kale is sometimes called a super green. It's a tough and hardy green leaf cabbage variety.
It grows as loose leaves around a hard stem and they turn dark green in color.
The plant is actually a winter leafy vegetable, as it can take up to 5° Fahrenheit or -15° Celsius.
Last year, we planted a curly deep green kale variety in September and it survived the mountain temperatures and a layer of snow.
In spring it was good to be picked, and we enjoyed it, but we kept the plant alive and it has been giving us fresh kale leaves up to now. Those were used in the pictures.
Ingredients and what else to add
It's a simple, easy and straightforward kale recipe.
The basic ingredients are...
- kale - I use fresh curly kale if possible young softer and tender baby leaves.
- cranberries I like them fresh and tangy but you can use dried cranberries too.
- walnuts - cut or chopped to desired size
- olive oil - if possible extra virgin olive oil
- lemon juice - fresh
- seasoning - salt and black pepper (we keep it simple)
You can also add other ingredients such as avocado, soft chickpeas, diced apples, goat cheese feta, cooked quinoa, cooked chicken (like leftover rotisserie chicken), smoked salmon, roasted butternut squash, and crunchy croutons.
How to make Kale Salad?
Kale can be tough and fibrous but there is a way to make soft kale salad.
The dressing is massaged into the fresh kale leaves, and that way they soften.
Also, I try to use mostly young leaves and the leaves get to marinate with the simple dressing.
Pick deep green fresh and young kale leaves, trim off wilted parts. Rinse and pat dry.
Cut the softer leave parts from the hard stem pieces. Discard the stems.
Cut or chop your kale to your liking. I like them not all too large.
Combine lemon juice, salt, and black pepper in a smaller bowl or dressing shaker. Mix it up.
Now add the olive oil to the dressing and combine again.
Pour dressing over the kale and massage it in with your clean hands.
Marinate the kale for a day in an airtight container in your fridge. The kale will get softer and will taste better.
Prepare your fresh cranberries, rinse the fruits.
Cut your cranberries into two or quarter them if you want them smaller.
Cut or chop walnuts to desired size.
Combine massaged kale with cranberries and walnuts.
Or add the cranberries and walnuts as a garnish just before serving up the salad.
Allow the salad to take in the dressing ingredients.
That way the leaves will get softer and tender.
I recommend that you place the salad, tossed in the simple lemon vinaigrette, in a Tupperware or fridge friendly container with a lid.
Keep it there for a day and the leaves will be perfect!
The salad can be stored in your fridge for up to 4 days.
The salad with all the base ingredients makes a lovely winter side dish.
I serve it during the holidays for Christmas because the colors and fresh kale with cranberries complement most meat roasts well.
It works well as a side with most hearty soups or casserole dishes.
The lemon and cranberries will give you a healthy dose of vitamin C, making it a great salad to get over the cold and dark winter months.
You can also switch up the dressing by enriching it with a mustard vinaigrette or a honey mustard dressing.
No, you can't eat kale stems raw because they are super tough and fibrous. You need to cut off the stems.
Cover the kale leaves with dressing and massage it in a bit with your hands. Then leave the kale to marinate for about a day. The kale leaves will turn out softer than ever!
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Kale Salad with Cranberries Recipe
- 4 ounces Kale weigh with stems
- dozen Cranberries
- a few Walnuts
- Rinse off your kale leaves and trim out the wilted parts.
- Cut off the dark green soft leave parts from the hard stalks. Discard the hard parts.
- Cut the leaves into strips or chop it to your liking. Place leaves in a large mixing bowl.
- Prepare the dressing. Combine lemon juice with salt and black pepper first, then add the olive oil and mix it up again.
- Pour dressing over kale leaves. Massage dressing into leaves to soften them. I do that for about 3-5 mins.
- I recommend that you allow the kale to marinate with the dressing for about 1 day. The kale will taste better (not bitter) and it will get softer. Place it in an airtight container with a lid in your fridge to cool.
- Rinse cranberries and cut them into half or quarter.
- Chop or cut walnuts into rough pieces.
- Decide if you want to mix cranberries and walnuts into the kale salad or if you want to use them as a topping.
- Place kale salad in serving dishes and serve up.
- Use fresh young kale leaves
- I recommend using fresh cranberries but you can use dried cranberries too.
- You may switch the dressing in the recipe with another dressing such as a mustard vinaigrette or a honey mustard dressing.
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