This easy kale salad with apple has a lemon, maple syrup and ginger dressing that's so refreshing! This recipe takes just 15 minutes and we'll show you how to quickly massage your kale to make it lovely and tender.
If you told me a few years ago, that one day I would be raving about a salad made of kale, let alone massaged kale, I would have never believed you! But now here I am to tell you why I think this kale salad is so amazing:
- It’s super refreshing thanks to its lemony, oil free dressing
- The texture is substantial and satisfying, which makes a great change from lettuce based salads
- Kale is really nutritious and a fantastic source of Vitamin A, C and K
- It’s really simple to make in under 15 minutes
- And you can customise the ingredients so easily to suit you.
Now let’s talk a bit about kale…
There are four main varieties of kale. The most common is curly kale. Then you have the darker, more elongated lacinato or Tuscan Kale. Red Russian kale has more flat leaves, with a reddish stem. And baby kale is the smallest and most tender.
Any type of kale can be used in a salad and eaten raw. The different varieties of kale vary in texture, so the time needed to tenderise them by massaging will vary. You don’t need to massage baby kale. Curly kale has the toughest stems, so they are best removed, whereas more tender varieties can be used for salad without removing the stem.
OK so, massaging kale sounds really weird, right! So why massage kale? Well, it tenderises the kale, transforming it from something dry and chewy, into juicy and tender leaves that are the perfect base for a salad. The massaging process is also said to help to draw out some of the bitter flavour of kale.
First you want to prepare your kale by washing it and removing the tough stems. Next, tear it or chop it up. The finer the kale is, the quicker it will be to become tender.
Put your chopped kale in a large bowl and drizzle about half a teaspoon of salt over it. (The salt helps to draw the moisture out of the kale). Then, with your hands, rub and gently knead the leaves. As you massage, you will see the kale shrink down, soften and change in colour.
Massaging kale can take between 1-3 minutes. Try it as you go and stop when it reaches a texture you like. You don’t want to overdo it as it can become too mushy for a salad.
Making this refreshing kale salad is a bit different from just chopping and mixing, but it's still quick and easy. Here's how:
Step 1 - Place the washed and roughly torn kale in a large bowl and sprinkle with the salt.
Step 2 - Rub and gently knead the leaves to 'hand fry' the kale for around two minutes.
Step 3 - After massaging, the kale should be tender, greener and have shrunk down a bit.
Step 4 - Toast the sunflower seeds.
Step 5 - Combine lemon juice, maple syrup and grated ginger into a marinade
Step 6 - Top the kale and sliced apple with the marinade and sprinkle with toasted sunflower seeds.
Whenever I make a salad I like to combine a variety of tastes and textures, and we encourage you to play around with this kale salad recipe to suit the season and what you have at home. The variations are pretty endless! Here's some ideas:
For sweetness: Instead of maple syrup, could use agave syrup, date syrup or some of our dandelion honey. You could add some dried fruit too - such as raisins or cranberries.
For tanginess: Instead of lemon, you could use apple cider or balsamic vinegar.
Other veggies and fruit that go well in this kale salad are:
- Avocado, diced
- Cucumber, diced
- Radishes, sliced
- Carrot, grated
- Roasted sweet potato or butternut squash
- Orange slices
- Pear slices
- Pomegranate arils
Serve it with
For a simple and light meal, just serve the kale salad with some bread. May we recommend our super seedy sourdough loaf?
Serve this salad as a refreshing side along a more substantial meal. A slice of vegan quiche always goes great with green salad as a tasty lunch or supper.
After we took these pictures, we enjoyed the kale salad with some savoury vegan crepes filled with stir-fried veggies - a perfect way to use up those kale stems!
Refreshing Kale Salad with Apple
- First wash your kale, and remove the tough stems. I remove the stems by holding the end of the stem in one hand, and running my other hand along it to strip the leaves from the stalk.
- Roughly tear or chop the kale, and put it in a large bowl.
- Sprinkle the salt over the kale, and then, with your hands, rub and gently knead the leaves. As you massage, you will see the kale shrink down, soften and change in colour.Massaging kale can take between 1-3 minutes. Try it as you go and stop when it reaches a texture you like.
- Toast the sunflower seeds in a pan on medium-high heat on the hob. Be careful not to burn them. Keep an eye on the toasting seeds and stir around frequently, as they can suddenly go dark really quickly when the pan comes up to temperature.
- Combine the lemon juice, maple syrup and grated ginger to make the dressing.
- In a salad bowl, combine the massaged kale with sliced apple and add the dressing. Toss around and top with the toasted sunflower seeds for serving.