The Best Shredded Kale Salad

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on November 25, 2013

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Whenever I’m in the Phoenix area, I make a point to dine at True Food Kitchen. For those who aren’t familiar with True Food, the famous Dr. Andrew Weil (along with restaurateur Sam Fox) opened this restaurant in 2008. There are now several locations. The entire menu is based around Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Diet and food pyramid with an emphasis on local and organic food whenever possible. And I can tell you, every time I’ve been the restaurant is absolutely packed (and it’s a huge restaurant!).

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[image source: True Food Kitchen]

Everything I’ve had at this restaurant has been ah-mazing. Even though it’s not a vegan or vegetarian restaurant, I always find a few great options on the menu. My last visit was no different. I ordered The Autumn Ingredient salad and I was blown away. It’s bursting with roasted squash, brussels sprouts, pomegranate, cauliflower, mulberries, and white beans. It was the first time I’ve had roasted pomegranate seeds and I can tell you I’ll be doing this real soon. The only thing that I didn’t care for was the Horseradish Vinaigrette that came with it (but I’m not a horseradish person, so what do I know).

Also intriguing, was my mom’s Tuscan Kale Salad – I love the idea of shredded kale (it just seems so much easier to chew!). The shredded kale was tossed in a simple lemon garlic dressing with a few handfuls of breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese thrown in. I decided I had to make a vegan version of this salad as soon as possible. I knew it would make the perfect salad starter for any holiday menu!

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4.8 from 67 reviews
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The Best Shredded Kale Salad

Vegan, gluten-free, grain-free, soy-free

By

Inspired by a kale salad my mom enjoyed at a restaurant called True Food Kitchen, I knew I had to make my own dairy-free version as soon as I was back in my kitchen. The key to this salad is finely chopping (or shredding) the kale. The lemon-garlic dressing will coat each and every tiny piece of kale, working its magical softening powers and infusing the shredded kale with so much flavour. I prefer to use Lacinato (or dinosaur) kale in this salad because it's much more delicate than traditional curly kale and it has a milder flavour. Instead of cheese, I topped the salad with a toasted pecan "Parmesan" topping and a handful of dried sweetened cranberries. The result is one of the best kale salads I've tried to date and you'll find yourself wanting to inhale the entire bowl. Two bunches of dinosaur kale might seem like a lot, but once it's shredded, it only makes about 8 cups and then it further reduces in volume by almost half as it marinates. If you are making this salad for more than 4 people, I suggest doubling it.

Yield
4 small bowls
Prep time
Cook time

Ingredients:

For the salad and dressing:
  • 2 medium bunches destemmed lacinato/dinosaur kale, finely chopped (8 to 9 cups/300 to 340 g chopped)
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) fresh lemon juice
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons (45 to 60 mL) extra-virgin olive oil, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (just eyeball it)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup (35 to 70 g) dried sweetened cranberries, for garnish
For the pecan Parmesan:
  • 1 cup (120 g) pecan halves, toasted
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pinches fine sea salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Spread the pecans onto a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes until fragrant and lightly golden.
  2. Remove the stems from the kale and discard. (You can save them for smoothies if you are hardcore!) Finely chop the kale leaves (the smaller, the better).
  3. Wash the kale and spin dry. Place dried kale into a large bowl.
  4. For the dressing: In a mini food processor, process the garlic until minced. Now add the lemon, oil, salt, and pepper and process until combined. Adjust to taste, if desired. Pour the dressing onto the kale and mix it into the kale with your hands or toss with spoons. Keep mixing for about 1 minute to ensure everything is coated perfectly.
  5. For the Pecan Parmesan: Rinse out the mini processor and pat dry. Add the pecans into the processor and process until the pecans are the size of peas or a bit larger. Now add in the nutritional yeast, oil, and salt and process again until it has a coarse crumb texture. Be sure not to overprocess—we still want a nice crunchy texture here, not powder.
  6. Sprinkle the Pecan Parmesan all over the salad. Toss on a handful or two of dried cranberries. Wrap and place in the fridge for 30 to 60 minutes to soften, or you can simply enjoy it right away. In the past, I've tried letting this salad sit overnight in the fridge and I greatly prefer the flavour of the salad served the day of, so I don't recommend making this salad the day before and letting it sit in the fridge overnight.

Nutrition Information

Serving Size 1 of 4 small bowls | Calories 400 calories | Total Fat 36 grams
Saturated Fat 4 grams | Sodium 280 milligrams | Total Carbohydrates 21 grams
Fiber 5 grams | Sugar 7 grams | Protein 6 grams

Nutrition info is based on 4 servings.
* Nutrition data is approximate and is for informational purposes only.

Tips:

  • Instead of a mini processor, you can chop/whisk the dressing and pecan "Parmesan" by hand.
  • For a nut-free version, try using breadcrumbs instead of pecans.

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Like I said, I felt like I could’ve polished off the entire salad on my own. It’s that good. I hope it’ll convince you to give kale a shot if it’s not already on your regular rotation!

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{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

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Gretchen September 27, 2016 at 5:43 pm
Recipe Rating:

So yummy! I absolutely love the flavor. I ground the pecan mix too finely, and think it would be a nicer texture if I held off like you recommended. I added some red pepper flakes to the dressing for an added zing – delicious!

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Angela Liddon September 28, 2016 at 1:52 pm

Happy to hear you enjoyed the salad, Gretchen!

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Dominique October 23, 2016 at 8:06 pm
Recipe Rating:

I just emptied my community garden plot earlier today before frost set in so I had a large quantity of kale on hand. We had guests with kids coming over for homemade pizza tonight and this salad balanced out the meal perfectly. Thank you!

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Heather November 6, 2016 at 12:42 pm
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This was amazing!!! My new favorite salad.

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Angela Liddon November 7, 2016 at 9:40 am

Hi Heather, I’m happy to hear it was a hit!

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Jennifer Drews November 6, 2016 at 11:48 pm

I could eat this salad everyday!

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Stephanie November 16, 2016 at 4:23 pm
Recipe Rating:

Made this for my team’s pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving and it was a hit! Super yummy and great crunchy bite with each forkful. Would make again!

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Angela Liddon November 17, 2016 at 11:26 am

Glad to hear it, Stephanie! :)

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Aimee Cox December 26, 2016 at 1:44 am
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The kale salad was my most favourite dish on the table for Christmas 2016!
It will definitely be going into our seasonal rotation!

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Angela Liddon December 28, 2016 at 11:11 am

Aw, I’m happy to hear that, Aimee! We love this salad, too. :)

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Laura January 26, 2017 at 8:25 pm
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Made a huge batch of this for my holiday party and everyone LOVED it. People said it was the best salad they had every eaten (yes, they were drunk, but I think it was also true).

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Angela Liddon January 30, 2017 at 12:34 pm

I’m so happy to hear that, Laura! (Haha, and it sounds like a good time was had by all! ;) )

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julye January 31, 2017 at 8:16 pm
Recipe Rating:

Delicious! This is my first time making kale and it was fantastic! I’m a believer. :-) Thanks so much for sharing your talent Angela!

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Angela Liddon February 1, 2017 at 10:55 am

I’m so pleased this kale salad won you over!

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Grace February 28, 2017 at 7:02 pm
Recipe Rating:

I’m not big on salads, but have been eating healthier, so I made this tonight. It was good, I really loved the dressing. I topped it with pecans, cranberries, goat cheese and avocado. I had a lot of leftovers so will be having it for a few more days. Thanks!

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Angela Liddon March 1, 2017 at 10:13 am

So pleased to hear it was a hit, Grace! Enjoy those leftovers :)

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Lisa lisa March 30, 2017 at 7:19 am

Has anyone actually tried this salad? All 5 star comments indicate how great it looks and sounds but none how it tastes? Lol

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Kelly April 26, 2017 at 10:02 am

I love, love, love this salad but I wanted to let everyone know that I use tart dried cherries in place of the cranberries, as I am allergic to them. This salad is wonderful with the cherries, my whole family loves it.
Thanks for the recipe.

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Angela Liddon April 26, 2017 at 10:43 am

Thanks for sharing, Kelly! I’m so glad to hear the recipe is such a hit. :)

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Kimberly June 7, 2017 at 3:39 pm
Recipe Rating:

Love this salad, I make it and have it for lunch all week, still tastes great on day 5

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Kristen July 3, 2017 at 11:28 pm
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I make this recipe at least once a month. I use walnuts instead of pecans, but I bet the pecans are more delicious. I actually think it still tastes great on day 3. I never have any left after that! It’s too good.

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Alice July 18, 2017 at 4:31 pm

I was wondering if you could make the pecan crumble and freeze it. We are going to the lake for a couple weeks and wanted to make it ahead

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Angela Liddon July 21, 2017 at 12:47 pm

Hey Alice, Oh, this is a great question. I can’t believe I haven’t tried this before! Now I’m curious, lol. My guess is that it could work if it’s wrapped up well before freezing (to prevent freezer burn), but my only worry would be the freezing and thawing of the olive oil, and whether something would go wonky. But again, I’m really not sure. If you try it out, please let us know how it goes. :)

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Helene September 6, 2017 at 9:15 am

Planning to make and take kale salad with pecans and cranberries. I’m confused about pecan parm….with no parm….does the yeast take the place and becomes the “parm”
Thanks!

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Angela Liddon September 8, 2017 at 12:17 pm

Hey Helene, Thanks for the great question. You’re on the right track with your thinking—the nutritional yeast helps add the “cheesy” flavour to the pecan parmesan, while the pecans themselves help achieve a similar texture to traditional parm. If you give it a try, I’d love to hear what you think! You can also try other nuts out to change it up.

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Lisa Cross September 26, 2017 at 9:09 pm

I love this salad!!! I’ve made it a handful of times already. Tonight I was smart… I made extra dressing and pecan Parmesan to have later in the week. The pecan parm is delicious to just snack on!!!

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Catia September 30, 2017 at 9:14 am
Recipe Rating:

Kale salad is always my favourite. Love the salad you’ve made!

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Sherrie Busswood October 6, 2017 at 11:34 am
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I made this last night and it was a HUGE hit! Who knew something so healthy could taste so AMAZING!!!! I had dried bing cherries on hand so I used them instead of the cranberries.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) October 6, 2017 at 11:43 am

So glad it was a hit Sherrie! :)

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Tara December 2, 2017 at 6:50 pm
Recipe Rating:

The classic, I’ll always return to this one. Even my non-vegan family makes this one (even when I’m not there).

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Angela (Oh She Glows) December 3, 2017 at 8:00 am

haha “even when I’m not there”…well, that’s the true test, right?! :)

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Leslie January 3, 2018 at 4:52 pm
Recipe Rating:

I made this last night, Soooooo good. Didn’t have to adjust a thing

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Angela (Oh She Glows) January 3, 2018 at 5:04 pm

Hey Leslie, Oh that’s great news, thank you!

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Alesia January 24, 2018 at 9:13 am

Made this yesterday and it was amazing!!! I halved the recipe since you said it’s better on day 1. I did have some left over and that was just as good! Thanks for the recipe.

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Marika February 8, 2018 at 7:03 pm
Recipe Rating:

As I looked up the recipe yet again, I thought I should tell you that I probably make this recipe monthly. I recently made it for a new mom and it was a hit with her, too (welcome change from all the heavy food). And for people new to this recipe – I usually have it for lunch all week and don’t notice a major change in flavor. Kale is so hardy! My only change is I use dried cherries instead of cranberries because I can’t find dried cranberries without added sugar.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) February 9, 2018 at 6:54 am

Hey Marika, I love hearing how much you make this salad!! I love how energizing it is and dried cherries are a nice swap too. I hope your new mom friend enjoyed it as well. :)

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Jeri June 24, 2018 at 11:50 am
Recipe Rating:

I LOVE this recipe! I have become addicted to this Kale Salad! I agree the key is shredding the kale finely. I actually slice it in thin slices. The dressing is awesome. Since i really like shredded Parmesan cheese in my kale salads, I do add about 1/8 of a cup. I just cant say enough about this salad.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) June 25, 2018 at 6:13 am

Hey Jeri, thanks so much for your review! So glad you enjoy it.

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Allison July 12, 2018 at 1:01 pm
Recipe Rating:

I love this salad so much I grew lacinato kale specially in my garden this year so we could enjoy this salad all summer long! If only I could grow pecans… :-)

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Caroline September 8, 2018 at 6:56 pm

I absolutely love this recipe, Angela, and want to make it for my sister who is always up to her ears in kale and doesn’t know what to do with it. The only problem is she is allergic to raw garlic… Do you think this recipe would lose a lot if I cooked the garlic or maybe used raw shallots instead?

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 10, 2018 at 8:56 am

Hey Caroline, Aww thank you for the salad love! :) I think cooked garlic (roasted, perhaps) might be a nice chance and would lend a much mellower and lightly sweet flavour. I haven’t tried it myself but I would love to hear what you think if you do.

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Magda September 12, 2018 at 6:23 pm

This is, hands down, my most favorite salad recipe ever! It is so easy to make and the flavor is glorious! It is the first food to be completely eaten at any potluck I’ve brought it to.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 14, 2018 at 6:28 am

Hi Magda,That’s so great to hear it’s always a hit. Thanks so much for your feedback!

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Nancy November 5, 2018 at 8:42 am
Recipe Rating:

I made this salad for a Friendsgiving this past weekend and everyone LOVED it! I had made it before as written and feel the kale is a little too tough without massaging it, so I actually massage the dressing into the kale for at least 5 minutes and let sit in the fridge overnight. My husband was shocked that we had NONE left and I had doubled the recipe. Excellent salad! BTW….I love just snacking on the pecan parm, especially right out of the oven when its warm!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) November 5, 2018 at 10:24 am

Such a great idea to make this for a Friendsgiving Nancy :) So glad it was enjoyed! Thanks for your review :)

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Amy November 7, 2018 at 9:33 pm

This salad is so delicious! I especially love the pecan parmesan. It’s not really a substitute for parmesan in my mind as it has a really unique flavor. I haven’t tried a salad like this with regular parmesan but I think I’d prefer this pecan crumble any day! Thanks for the awesome recipe!

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