I know you’re not supposed to choose favorites, but kale *might* be my favorite “salad” green. With a little love (see massaging notes below), the leaves become soft and pliable but still strong enough to stay fresh for a couple days in the fridge. Which makes this kale and apple salad perfect for holiday entertaining (maybe a healthy New Year’s dinner salad?) or meal prepping (hey, New Year’s resolutions). Enjoy!
Let’s talk about kale for a minute. There are a couple different options on the market, but my favorite (hands-down) is Lacinato kale, aka Dinosaur kale. It has a silky texture and is a bit sweeter than curly kale. Curly kale is a bit more peppery and more fibrous, which is why we prefer it for smoothies over salads. But either type of kale will work in this salad – just make sure to de-stem the kale and give it a good massage.
So how do you massage kale? Kale can be tough to chew if not properly prepared. Give your kale a good massage before eating it. First, de-stem the leaves and then very thinly slice the bunch of destemmed leaves into small ribbons. In a bowl, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and salt and massage (like kneading bread dough) for 2-3 minutes. When the leaves soften and turn a more vibrant color green, it’s ready to go.
Nut + seed topping. This salad is topped with all the crunchy stuff; nuts, seeds, and dried fruit for a pop of sweetness. I used my favorite maple balsamic supersnacks but any mix of toasted nuts, seeds, and dried fruit will work. Here’s how to make your own blend! Mix together…
Maple Balsamic Nut and Seed Topping
- 1/2 cup almonds
- 1/2 cup cashews
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- generous drizzle extra virgin olive oil
- big pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, mix together everything but the dried cranberries and toss to coat. Spread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet, then bake 8-10 minutes until golden and toasted. Allow to cool to room temperature and then mix in the dried cranberries. Then, sprinkle the mixture over the kale and apple salad and enjoy!
Store extras in an airtight container for up to a week.
To make this salad vegan, simply omit the goat cheese.
To power up this salad, add some protein, like rosemary roasted chicken or roasted tempeh.
A festive and healthy kale and apple salad with almond butter mustard dressing. Easy to prep-ahead for entertaining or meal prep. Gluten-free.
- 1 medium acorn squash, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 3/4-inch slices
- extra virgin olive oil
- 2 bunches Lacinato kale, destemmed and thinly sliced
- extra virgin olive oil
Almond Mustard Dressing
- 1/4 cup creamy, unsweetened almond butter
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup or honey
- 1/4 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
- 2 medium apples, cored and sliced
- 5 oz goat cheese, crumbled, optional
- 1 cup of toasted nut, seed, and dried fruit mix of choice (see notes)
- Roast the acorn squash. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Arrange the acorn squash on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 30-35 minutes or until starting to brown, flipping halfway through.
Prep the kale. Add the kale to a large bowl, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and massage until slightly wilted. Set aside.
Make the dressing. In a small bowl, add all the dressing ingredients and whisk until smooth. Add a bit more water if needed to reach a pourable consistency.
Meal prepping? Pack the bowls. Divide the acorn squash, kale, and apples between five meal prep containers. Keep the dressing, crumbled goat cheese (if using), and nut and seed topping separate. When ready to eat, drizzle with 1/5th of the almond mustard dressing and garnish with 1 oz of crumbled goat cheese and 1/5th of the maple balsamic topping.
Serving a crowd? In a large serving bowl, mix together the kale, apples, and the dressing. Add the acorn squash and goat cheese (if using) and gently toss again. When ready to serve, top with toasted nut, seed, and dried fruit mix of choice.
I used my favorite maple balsamic supersnacks but any mix of toasted nuts, seeds, and dried fruit will work. Here’s how to make your own blend! Mix together… 1/2 cup toasted almonds or cashews, 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds, 1/4 cup toasted walnuts, 1/2 cup dried cranberries, and 1/4 cup raisins. Then, sprinkle 1 cup of the mixture over the kale and apple salad and enjoy!
Keywords: kale and apple salad, apple salad, almond butter dressing
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