While kale is nutritious, it can be a little hard to swallow sometimes. Prepare it right though, and kale is a healthy, delicious dish! This shaved apple and kale salad recipe has crisp yet tender kale. And the sweet and tangy taste appeals even to young taste buds.
My kids are fairly adventurous eaters (even the youngest ones) since we haven’t relied on processed foods to satiate their appetites. However, they are still kids after all. My kids take a pass when it comes to cooked kale, but they love kale chips, and now this kale apple salad too!
Tasty Kale Salad Recipe
This salad takes a few ingredients and little prep, but the result is really impressive! It’s easy enough for a weeknight meal. Add some diced or whole chicken breast and it makes a great main dish salad. Or leave it as is for a tasty side dish. It’s also naturally gluten-free and dairy-free.
Tender Kale Leaves
Kale is a great way to up the calcium content of a diet without needing dairy. Even if you can have dairy, kale has high levels of vitamins A, C, K, and other nutrients.
The key here is to gently massage the kale (yes, massage!) which breaks it down and makes it tender enough for a salad. Small leaves of curly kale or Russian kale are best for salads. Some people also like lacinato kale, which has a slightly sweeter taste.
Check out this video for a fun shortcut way to de-stem the kale for the salad.
Note: While kale isn’t on the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list it leans to the pesticide-laden side of the list. So when possible buy organic.
Crisp Red and Gold Apples
An apple a day may or may not keep the doctor away, but it’s a tasty way to get more fiber and nutrition. I use this spiralizer to shave the apples into thin slices. They add just the right light crunch and sweetness to the salad. I like to use Fiji or Honeycrisp apples with the skin on for a nice pop of color.
Conventional apples are one of the most pesticide contaminated foods. They’ve consistently made the Dirty Dozen list every year. Prioritizing organic apples when it fits the budget can really help cut down on pesticide intake.
Sweet and Spicy Onions
The onions are optional in this recipe, but they help round out the flavor and add extra crunch. Since this apple kale salad is made with a vinaigrette, the onions take on a sweet and spicy flavor similar to my easy 5-minute pickled onion recipe.
The best part though is that onions are high in an antioxidant called quercetin. Researchers have studied this nutrient for its ability to fight cancer, boost immune function, and more. I talk more about the benefits of onions and quercetin in this post here.
Pure Olive Oil
The dressing makes the salad. And olive oil is the star in this one with its smooth nutty flavor and nourishing healthy fats.
Unfortunately, real olive oil can be difficult to find on grocery store shelves. Certain manufacturers thin olive oil with cheaper, unhealthy substitutes, like canola oil. I cover that topic and how to find unadulterated olive oil in this post.
The bottom line, real olive oil is full of health benefits, but it can be a little pricey. I reserve my pure extra virgin olive oil for topping things like this salad. I use tallow, butter, and lard to cook and fry with since they’re cheaper.
Tangy Apple Cider Vinegar
It seems like there are as many uses for raw apple cider vinegar as there are for coconut oil! Both have a prominent place on my pantry shelf. Apple cider vinegar which still has the mother is much more pungent than white vinegar. It’s also full of beneficial bacteria and acetic acid.
Apple cider vinegar isn’t that hard to make at home from apple scraps. But Bragg’s is a popular brand for those who just want to buy a healthy version.
Apple Kale Salad Toppings
I keep my salad toppings fairly simple with apples, onions, and pecans. Here are some other topping options though if you want to dress it up further.
- Feta, parmesan, or goat cheese
- Cooked quinoa
- Diced butternut squash
- Pumpkin seeds
- Dried cranberries
- Pomegranate seeds
- Chickpeas (roasted or boiled)
- Chicken breast
This salad is basically autumn in a bowl! Here’s how to make it:
Shaved Apple and Kale Salad Recipe
For the Vinaigrette:
For the Salad:
- 1 cup pecans
- 3 apples
- 6 cups kale
- ½ small red onion (very thinly sliced)
- Make the vinaigrette by whisking together all the vinaigrette dressing ingredients and then set aside.
- In a small skillet, toast the pecans over medium heat on the stove until aromatic. Watch them carefully to prevent burning.
- Remove the pecans to a shallow bowl and set aside to cool.
- Use the broad blade of a spiralizer to thinly slice the apples into ribbons and place them in a small bowl.
- Pour the vinaigrette over the apples and toss to coat. Let sit for 2 minutes to keep the apples from browning.
- Meanwhile, remove the center stem from the kale and tear or chop the kale into small pieces.
- Place them in a large bowl and massage kale with your hands for about a minute until it just starts to soften and wilt. This makes it much more tender in a salad.
- Add the apples and salad dressing to the salad bowl with kale.
- Add the toasted pecans and red onions and toss to combine.
- Serve and enjoy!
No spiralizer? Thinly slice apples with a knife or mandolin.
Do you ever eat kale in a salad? What are your favorite toppings to have with it? Leave a comment and let me know!