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Kale Crunch Salad Recipe {Vegetarian, Gluten Free}

This Kale Crunch Salad is made with freshly chopped Kale, parm cheese, cranberries, and roasted pecans. Tossed with a homemade vinaigrette, this Kale Chopped Salad is exploding with a blend of sweet-savory-tangy flavors and is a super healthy recipe that takes less than 20 minutes to prepare!!

Kale Crunch Salad hero shot

Flavorful and Healthy, this Kale Crunch Salad Recipe is perfect for so many occasions. This amazing and healthy salad contains raw chopped kale, toasted pecans, freshly grated parm cheese, cranberries, and is topped with a delightful and lite vinaigrette dressing. 

Our freshly chopped Kale salad made from scratch is a must-try summer recipe. We enjoy making simple and elegant salads that are made with fresh ingredients and are full of texture and flavor! Our kids love the blend of crunchy fibrous kale, sweet cranberries and honey with tangy juicy lemon in this salad. 

Though a popular summer salad, we make this kale salad throughout the year. This vegetarian low carb salad is one you can feel great about eating and serving, and is perfect to pack and take with you as well.

Why This Recipe Works?

  • Loaded with fiber, Vitamin A and K, this is a healthy and kids friendly salad.
  • Low Carb Vegetarian Salad.
  • Topped with crunchy pecans.
  • Vegan options available.
  • Gluten free.
  • Easily available ingredients.
  • Can be made in advance.
  • The Best Kale Crunch Salad ever!!

Ingredients

This recipe uses super easy ingredients that can be obtained from a local store if you don’t already have them in your pantry. Read the Recipe Card for the measurements.

For the Vinaigrette

  • Olive Oil – Olive oil works best for this salad. We prefer using mild flavored olive oil in this homemade vinaigrette. You can also use coconut or avocado oil as well.
  • Fresh Lemon Juice – We love the tangy flavor of freshly squeezed lemon juice in this recipe of kale salad. An alternative would be to use apple cider vinegar.
  • Honey – Adding honey creates a delicate balance of sweet and savory flavors and makes this recipe kids friendly. Maple syrup can also be used in the same ratio.
  • Garlic – We have used minced garlic for the spicy bite it adds to this salad.
  • Salt – We have used the Diamond brand of Kosher salt. You can also use regular table salt.
  • Black Pepper – Pepper adds a mild spicy and bold flavor to this green salad. We have used freshly ground pepper.

For the Kale Salad

  • Chopped Kale –  This recipe uses fresh kale and either variety of kale (tuscan or curly) can work. We’re using Tuscan Kale, also known as dinosaur kale. The leaves are deeper in color, slightly thinner and a bit more tender than curly kale – which makes it more kid friendly. If you need to save a little time, pre-chopped bagged kale can also be used.
  • Parmigiano Reggiano – Grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese adds a nutty savory flavor to this salad. Parmesan cheese may work too for this recipe.
  • Pecans – We love topping our salad with crunchy roasted pecans. You can use almonds or walnuts as well. 
  • Cranberries – Dried cranberries add a mild tart flavor as well as a slight sweet and bright taste.
Kale Crunch Salad Ingredients

Equipment 

Variations

  • Vegan Kale Salad: This recipe of chopped kale salad can be made vegan by skipping the parm cheese or using vegan cheese. You may replace honey with Maple syrup.
  • Kale and Tuna Salad: Make this Veg Salad a high-protein salad by adding egg or tuna. If you do, keep in mind that it won’t be vegetarian. 
  • Add another fruit or vegetable: Mango and pumpkin blend naturally with this Kale salad. Use any of your favorite fruits. We love adding roasted potatoes to it as well. 
  • Add Chickpeas: Chickpeas are a healthy addition to this kale salad. You may boil them a day before or use canned ones. 
  • Add another salad dressing:  For a hot and pungent flavor, one may add Mustard sauce to this salad.

What to Serve With This Kale Chopped Salad?

How To Store Leftover Kale Crunch Salad

Store the leftover Kale salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 3 days. You should store the dressing in a separate container, or else the salad will be soggy.

How To Make Kale Crunch Salad

Step 1: Make Vinaigrette

  • In a medium mixing bowl add the olive oil, fresh lemon juice, honey, garlic, salt and pepper. Stir to combine and set aside.
Make the Vinaigrette

Step 2: Toast The Pecans

  • The nuts we’re using in this recipe are pecans, but walnuts or almonds can be substituted based on personal preference. 
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the nuts in an even layer on a cookie sheet or small cake pan. Toast the nuts in the oven for 5 minutes, then remove and gently shake to redistribute nuts and return to the oven. 
  • Toast for an additional 3-4 minutes until nuts start to turn a shade or two darker and give off a deep nutty aroma. Alternatively, you can toast your nuts on the stovetop in a cast iron or heavy bottom skillet. Once cool enough to handle, give them a medium chop and set aside.
Chop the Pecans

Step 3: Prep Kale

  • Next, we prepare the kale to be chopped. Because the center rib of the kale is very fibrous and can be tough to chew (especially for the kiddos), we usually remove it. 
  • To do so, turn the kale leaf upside down on the cutting board and cut along the rib in a V shape. Once this part of the kale is removed, to save these from the compost bin, you can use these ribs in stir fry, soups, or add to a smoothie. we usually freeze veggie scraps in a ziplock bag for later use.
prep the kale for chopping

Step 4: Chop Kale

  • For this salad, we’re using Tuscan Kale, also known as dinosaur kale. The leaves are deeper in color, slightly thinner and tender than curly kale – which makes it more kid friendly. Alternatively, you can use curly kale, if that’s what is available. 
  • To chop into strips, work in batches by stacking about 3 or 4 leaves and fold over.
  • Next, cut into thin strips. If you’d like smaller pieces, you can turn your cut pieces in the other direction and continue chopping.
chop kale
into thin strips

Step 5: Tenderize Salad

  • At this point your salad is ready to come together. In a large bowl, add chopped kale, nuts and cranberries. 
  • Give your vinaigrette a good whisk and add to the bowl. With your fingers, massage the dressing into the leaves for a few minutes until the leaves start to feel softer. 
  • This will help to tenderize the leaves. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Alternatively, if time permits, toss your salad with the dressing and let it sit for 20 minutes. This method will allow the lemon vinaigrette to naturally do the tenderizing for you.
combine all ingredients for kale salad

Step 6: Cheese It

  • This salad tastes amazing with some Parmigiano Reggiano cheese on top.
  • Using a vegetable peeler, slice thin strips off of your block of cheese. Break into smaller pieces with your fingers and toss into the salad.
add the parm cheese

Give your salad one last toss and it’s ready to be served.

ready to eat!

Expert Tips

  • Wash the Kale leaves under fresh water and dry them enough or else the salad will be soggy. You may wash and dry a day in advance. 
  • We remove the center rib of the kale as it’s hard to chew, especially for the kids.
  • Make thin strips of kale when chopping as it helps retain the moisture from the dressing and leaves become tender. 
  • Let the prepared salad sit for 20 minutes before serving it. This helps make it tender. 
What is a kale crunch salad?

Kale Crunch salad is made using kale, cabbage, pecans or walnuts and apple cider vinegar. Our Kale salad is made with a twist and we have skipped cabbage, added pecans, freshly grated parm cheese and used homemade lemon vinaigrette.

More Healthy Vegetarian Recipes

Kale Crunch Salad Recipe {Vegetarian, Gluten Free}

Kale Crunch Salad Recipe {Vegetarian, Gluten Free}

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

This Kale Crunch Salad is made with freshly chopped Kale, parm cheese, cranberries, and roasted pecans. Tossed with a homemade vinaigrette, this Kale Chopped Salad is exploding with a blend of sweet-savory-tangy  flavors and is a super healthy recipe that takes less than 20 minutes to prepare!!

Ingredients

  • 5 cups chopped kale*
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (Diamond brand)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1/3 cup pecans or walnuts
  • 1/4 cup cranberries
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano

Instructions

  1. Make the vinaigrette: In a medium mixing bowl add the olive oil, fresh lemon juice, honey, garlic, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine and set aside.
  2. In a 350 degrees F oven, toast the pecans for 5 minutes, then remove and gently shake to redistribute nuts and return to the oven for another 3-4 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, give them a medium chop and set aside.
  3. Chop the kale into thin strips, removing the center rib if you find that part too chewy.
  4. In a large bowl, add chopped kale, nuts and cranberries. Give your vinaigrette a good whisk and add to the bowl. With your fingers, massage the dressing into the leaves for a few minutes until the leaves start to feel softer.
  5. Using a vegetable peeler, slice thin strips off of your block of cheese, about a 1/4 cup and add to bowl.
  6. Give your salad one last toss right before serving.

Notes

  • Wash the Kale leaves under fresh water and dry them enough or else the salad will be soggy. You may wash and dry a day in advance. 
  • We remove the center rib of the kale as it's hard to chew, especially for the kids.
  • Make thin strips of kale when chopping as it helps retain the moisture from the dressing and leaves become tender. 
  • Let the prepared salad sit for 20 minutes before serving it. This helps make it tender. 
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