This happy, feel-good kale salad recipe is packed with colorful vegetables, crispy chickpeas, avocado, cranberries, and pepitas. Great for lunch!
Is it just me, or does it seem like the kale salad has gone out of style? For a while there, the internet was a kale-crazy place to be, but it seems to have fallen out of favor due to Brussels sprouts salads, roasted squash salads, and even pasta salads. While I was pondering this important life issue, I realized that it had not only been a while since I’d posted a kale recipe – it had been a while since I’d even made a kale salad for myself… so I thought – let’s bring it back(!) with this super fresh, colorful, rainbow salad recipe.
The guest star of this recipe is the creamy carrot ginger dressing that you see in the photo above. I make it by blending roasted carrots with ginger and tangy rice vinegar. While you’re roasting your carrots, roast some chickpeas too. They add a nice substantial bite to the mix of fresh, raw veggies in this salad.
I feel healthier just looking at all that kale! Oh, how I’ve missed you, kale salad!
How to Make A Massaged Kale Salad
The first trick to creating your kale salad is to massage the kale so that the bite-sized leaves become soft and tender. Here’s how to do it:
- Place bite-sized kale leaves into a large bowl and drizzle them with lemon juice, ½ teaspoon of olive oil, and a few pinches of salt.
- Use your hands to massage the leaves until they become soft and wilted and reduce in the bowl by about half.
- That’s it! You’re ready to assemble your kale salad.
Assembling Your Kale Salad
I like to build kale salads with a variety of flavors and textures, so I add soft dried cranberries, creamy avocado, crunchy roasted chickpeas, crispy pepitas, and fresh grated & sliced vegetables to this kale salad recipe.
Layer everything in (this is your Insta-worthy moment!) then toss and douse it all with the carrot ginger dressing. Serve the salad right away, or pack it up for lunches throughout the week. It can be stored dressed since kale leaves are so sturdy. If you’re packing this for multiple days, I would keep the avocado separate and add it to the salad before you leave for work. See this post for more of my best meal prep tips and this one for more lunch ideas.
Kale Salad Variations
- Add a sprinkle of feta cheese for a salty, tangy bite.
- I use raw beet in this recipe, but a few sliced roasted beets would be delicious instead.
- If you’re not a fan of chickpeas, try adding baked tempeh, tofu, or lentils for protein.
- Bulk up the salad by mixing in a grain like quinoa or farro.
- Switch up your dressing – turmeric tahini sauce, cashew cream, or scoops of pesto would be yummy alternatives to the carrot ginger dressing.
Carrot Ginger Dressing (See notes)
- ½ cup chopped roasted carrots, from 3/4 cup raw carrots
- 1/3 to ½ cup water
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons minced ginger
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 batch Roasted Chickpeas
- 1 bunch curly kale, stems removed, leaves torn
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small carrot, grated
- 1 small red beet, grated*
- ½ watermelon radish, very thinly sliced
- 1 avocado, cubed
- 2 tablespoons dried cranberries
- ¼ cup pepitas, toasted
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- Sea salt & Freshly ground black pepper
- Make the dressing and roast the chickpeas: Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the chickpeas with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle with pinches of salt and pepper. Place the carrot pieces for the dressing in their own corner on the baking sheet to roast alongside the chickpeas. Roast for 25 to minutes, or until the chickpeas are browned and crisp and the carrots are soft. Set the roasted chickpeas aside. Transfer the carrots to a blender and add the water, olive oil, rice vinegar, ginger, and salt. Blend the dressing until smooth and chill in the fridge until ready to use.
- Place the kale leaves into a large bowl and drizzle with the lemon juice, ½ teaspoon of olive oil, and a few pinches of salt. Use your hands to massage the leaves until they become soft and wilted and reduce in the bowl by about half.
- Add the carrot, beet, watermelon radish, half of the cubed avocado, cranberries, pepitas, a few more good pinches of salt and a few grinds of pepper, and toss. Drizzle generously with the carrot ginger dressing. Top with the remaining avocado, more dressing, the roasted chickpeas and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Season to taste and serve.
– Make the dressing ahead so it has time to chill in the fridge before adding to the salad.