There’s no doubt kale salads are healthy and full of nutrition, but kale can be a little tough when it’s raw, which can make chewing through a whole kale salad a bit tiring, right? What if I said you could make fresh raw kale super tender and easy to eat with one simple step? I’ve started doing this and it’s taken my kale salads from mediocre to incredible.
Before I share the secret to a delightfully tender kale salad, I want to do a quick refresher on why kale is so healthful. It’s super low in calories, as are most greens, but it’s high in Vitamins A, C, and K, which can help protect the eyes and bones and lower the risk for cancer and heart disease. Plus, it’s high in fiber, with a whopping 5 grams per cup of raw kale. That’s 1/5th of the recommended amount for an adult! One simple salad can do all of that, and I haven’t even talked about the other super-nutritious ingredients this salad includes (such as apples, dried cranberries, and pecans!).
Did I mention this salad is really beautiful and delicious? I took it to a ladies night about a month ago, and, I’m not kidding, it was gone before any one of the desserts! That is certainly saying something!
With the holidays coming up, wouldn’t this salad be a pretty addition to your Thanksgiving feast or fancy Christmas dinner? People will love it, they will feel good eating it, and it won’t take you a lot of time to prepare. That’s my kind of salad!
Now to the little secret for making the kale super tender. After washing and drying the kale, you simply drizzle the leaves with a little olive oil and sprinkle with a bit of kosher salt. Then, gently massage the leaves with your fingers until the kale looks wilted. It will shrink in size and get a smidge darker, but the results will make you love this salad even more. You can then serve it right away, or let it sit for a few hours before tossing together the salad. It’s that easy…and quick!
Two final words on this Hand-Wilted Kale Apple Salad with Honey-Roasted Pecans (that my husband and I polished off in one sitting, by the way…it really serves 4!). There’s no oil in the dressing, which is on purpose because the kale is already dressed with oil in the massaging step. Also, most of the components can be made several hours or even days in advance, which will make it even easier to include in your holiday food spread. Bonus!
Hand-Wilted Kale Apple Salad with Honey-Roasted Pecans How To Photos:
Start by pickling some onions…it’s easier than it may seem!
Next toast some pecans until they are very lightly browned.
Add a little honey, coconut oil, and salt.
Bake a bit more to get them well coated and nicely toasted.
Use fresh raw kale. In the Fall, it’s typically nice and tender anyway, but the hand wilting step makes it even more so!
Start with 6 cups torn raw kale – make sure to remove the tough stems.
Drizzle the kale with some olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt.
Gently massage the kale with clean hands. It will shrink down and get a bit darker.
Assemble the salad with you’re ready to eat. It’s that simple!
This kale apple salad complements most any meal really well! It’s especially festive for the holiday season!
- ¼ cup quartered and thinly sliced onion
- 1/8 teaspoon coarse kosher or sea salt
- Cider vinegar
- 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon refined coconut oil
- ¼ teaspoon coarse kosher or sea salt
- 6 cups torn fresh kale leaves (tough stems removed)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon coarse kosher or sea salt
- 1 apple, cored and thinly sliced
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- 1 tablespoon vinegar drained from the Pickled Onions
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 teaspoon coarsely ground mustard
- In a small bowl combine sliced onion and salt. Add enough vinegar to almost cover the onions. Toss to coat with a fork. Press onions into vinegar as much as possible. Cover and let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or chill for up to 1 week.
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Arrange pecans on prepared baking sheet in an even layer. Bake for 4 to 6 minutes or until very lightly browned. Drizzle with honey. Add coconut oil in a couple mounds. Sprinkle with salt. Bake 1 minute more. Stir pecans to coat well. Bake about 2 minutes more or until nuts are toasted. Stir again. Cool on pan on a wire rack. The salad only uses ¼ cup of the pecans. Store the rest in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 weeks.
- In a large bowl drizzle kale with oil and sprinkle with salt. Using clean hands, massage the kale gently with your fingers until it darkens slightly and shrinks in size. Make sure to massage all the kale leaves evenly. You can continue with the recipe or cover and chill the kale at this point for up to 4 hours.
- To assemble salad, drain the Pickled Onions, reserving the vinegar. For Dressing, in a small bowl whisk together 1 tablespoon of the drained vinegar, 2 teaspoons honey, and 1 teaspoon mustard. Save the remaining drained vinegar for making salad dressing another day.
- Add the drained onions to the wilted kale. Top with apple and cranberries. Drizzle with the dressing. Toss to coat. Transfer to a serving dish. Sprinkle with ¼ cup of the pecans.
- Turn this into a main dish salad by adding some sliced cooked chicken or turkey!
- 4 cups total salad
- 229 cals, 5 g pro, 27 g carb, 13 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 2 g sat fat, 6 g fiber, 324 mg sodium
Do you have any opinion on the bagged kale that is already washed and ready to eat? I feel like its easier to work with b/c its already more tender and i don’t have to “massage” it. But didn’t know if its not as fresh/nutritional/etc?
By the way, the salad looks delicious! Can’t wait to try it!
Thanks! Bagged kale is great for convenience, but I feel I can get more of the large stem pieces cut out when I use a fresh bunch of kale. I’ve also had good luck with clamshells of mixed baby kale. There are no large stems and it’s already quite tender. Enjoy the salad!