I am always looking to stay healthy, and I love a good salad. I’m always looking to make salads more creative and indulgent, and to make a meal out of them. However, sometimes during the rush of the work week and when time is of the essence my salads often result in a bit of a boring and bland bowl of greens. Ultimately, I want the health, nutrition, and volume to fill you up all in one big bowl. This kale salad does not dissapoint!
Kale and health benefits
I never thought much of kale while growing up. It was not a leafy green my parents introduced to us. Like most of us, I grew up with the typical romaine or mixed greens you get easily packaged from the store. The new health craze several years ago popularized kale when people started turning them into kale chips. The millennial generation seems to be quick to support the next trending foods that have a big nutritional impact. I tend to gravitate to those new health trends quite often. Honestly, ever since trying kale chips, I have loved the kale craze! I found a whole new love for the crunchy leafy green. Don’t get me started on avocado toast – that is still a big deal in my house!
So, kale … yum! It can be roasted, sautéed, or eaten raw in salads. We have also added kale to our smoothies (tip: don’t add too much to your smoothie as it becomes very bitter). Kale has a deep earthy taste and firm leaf crunch that is so hearty and yummy in a salad. It offers a nutritional explosion of vitamins A, K, B6 and C, calcium, potassium, copper, and manganese. It is a great option when making a salad, to give your body a boost.
The first time I had a Caesar salad with kale leaves as the lettuce, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the swap out from traditional romaine lettuce. Kale really holds the dressing well, and surprisingly stays extra crunchy after an extra day in the refrigerator if you happen to make too much. When transforming a salad into an indulgent experience, kale absolutely takes the win. I often want to decrease calories in recipes, and I know that using a little oil and vinegar does well in lieu of a creamy dressing.
The inspiration behind the salad
I recently went on a quick trip with my family to Savannah, Georgia. The town was a dream! There is so much old history and beauty everywhere. I highly suggest a trip there if you get a chance. We ate at some great little places and cafes. One afternoon, I was inspired by a kale salad from one of the restaurants called B Matthews Eatery, and I instantly knew I wanted to try and recreate it at home. The salad was a delicious combination of kale, dried cranberries, almond slices, steamed edamame, crumbled goat cheese, and a zesty lemon vinaigrette dressing.
So, in my effort to whip up this salad, I started thinking of what kind of dressing I would add. I have a most amazing recipe for a vegan tahini lemon garlic dressing and I knew instantly it would work! It almost reminded me of a Caesar dressing with a lemon acid kick.
Lemon Garlic Dressing
Simply Sells vegan tahini lemon garlic dressing will be a highlight to any of your salad recipes. It’s a must try and an entertainment staple. Tahini is a Middle Eastern ingredient made with ground sesame seeds and turned into a creamy paste. Tahini is often used in foods like hummus or halva. You can usually find it at most supermarkets or Middle Eastern food stores. I’ll link our favorite tahini, which we love. The dressing is a combination of lemon, garlic, creamy tahini, Dijon mustard, and rice wine vinegar. The toppings I add are very similar to the salad we had in Savannah, with only a few swaps and additions. I really love to be inspired by restaurant experiences! They can so often give you fresh ideas and creativity for new foods you may never try!
To prepare the kale wash it thoroughly and rip the leaves from the stems (or ribs) that run through the center. I love using my OXO salad spinner to get the leaves nice and dry to keep the salad extra crunchy. After rinsing the leaves, I roughly chop up the leaves, making sure they’re not too small. Mix together the prepared kale with the lemon garlic tahini dressing and lay it on a large platter. I prefer using a platter because it creates a canvas for the beauty that this salad can be. Layer the dried cranberries and some sliced almonds. I steamed some shelled edamame beans, let them cool, and then add them on top. I do like to use non-GMO and organic ingredients when I can, especially when it comes to soy products.
The color combination of ingredients is so very appealing to the eye. I use feta cheese crumbles instead of goat cheese for the sake of my husband’s taste buds. He’s not a huge fan of goat cheese, however, it tastes amazing either way – its up to you. What really sets this off is the addition of french fried onions. They make it so delicious! This salad is a great option to make ahead, and also great to bring to a potluck. Kale leaves really hold up in the vegan tahini lemon garlic dressing and can even be enjoyed the next day. If serving the salad the next day, try to add the toppings when served. This is a great salad to enjoy in any season!
One side dish that we like to make with salads is roasted sweet potato slices. Slice the sweet potatoes and layer them on a greased sheet pan, and the drizzle them with olive oil. Sprinkle them with garlic powder, dried parsley, salt, and pepper to taste. Roast them in a preheated oven at 420°F for about 15-20 minutes or until desired crispness and brownness. Serve them alongside your salad.Print
Hearty Kale Salad
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: Serves 6-8 1x
- 1 large bunch kale, de-ribbed
- 1 cup (8oz) feta cheese crumbles
- 3/4 cup edamame beans, fresh or thawed frozen
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- 3/4 cup craisins
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- juice of 5 lemons
- 4 tablespoons dijon mustard
- 4 tablespoons tahini
- 3–5 small cloves garlic, diced
- salt, to taste
- fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- For the dressing: In a blender combine the fresh lemon juice, olive oil, tahini, dijon mustard, cloves of garlic, salt, and pepper.
- Blend on medium speed for 5-10 seconds or until smooth. Set dressing aside.
- For the salad: Remove the center vein or “rib” of the kale leaves and discard. In a large serving bowl add the prepared kale leaves.
- Top the kale with the feta crumbles, sliced almonds, craisins, and edamame.
- Add desired amount of dressing and toss to combine, then enjoy! The salad keeps well in the fridge for 2-3 days. Add the toppings once ready to serve.