I love making unique, tasty salads in the kitchen. I may even consider my salad skills some sort of super-power. They’re perfect for lunch or dinner, and they’re a great way to enjoy your veggies. I also like to make them for meal prep to prepare for a busy week ahead.
This vegan kale salad is one I turn to frequently. It not only tastes great, but it’s high in fiber and packed with vitamins. It’s also SO simple to make! You can use any of your favorite salad dressings on this one, as the ingredients go well with pretty much anything.
This recipe is for a single serving salad, but you can easily double or even triple it! And, the measurements are not terribly important when it comes to making salads. Who cares if a little extra vegan cheese slips in, right?
Tips for making the best salad (with or without kale)
I always struggled with making tasty salads. In my experience, I never found salads very appetizing and for some reason they seemed difficult to eat. Here are all my tips for making a salad you want to eat!
- Chop the ingredients nice and small – Keep your ingredients bite-sized. You don’t want large chunks of vegetables that are really difficult to chew. Smaller pieces will mix better with your dressing and other ingredients also.
- Use fresh ingredients – The fresher your ingredients, the better your salad will taste. Try to use organic vegetables and fruits if possible.
- Mix in different textures – A good salad has a mix of crunchy, soft, and chewy textures. This keeps every bite interesting. Want crunchy texture? Add nuts! Want something chewy? Try some dried fruits.
- Play with colors – Color matters. A colorful salad is more appetizing. Try to include a variety of colors using different vegetables, fruits, and proteins.
- Include a protein – Whether it’s beans or tofu, including a protein will make your salad more satisfying and filling.
- Don’t forget the greens – While it’s fun to play with different ingredients, don’t forget to include a healthy helping of greens for their nutritional value. You can also mix up the greens you use depending on what is in season.
- Dress to impress – A good dressing can make or break your salad. Make sure to choose one that complements your ingredients.
- Season well – It may sound weird, but trust me, it makes a difference. Don’t forget to season your salad. A little salt and pepper can go a long way.
- Add healthy fats – Include a source of healthy fats like avocado, nuts, or seeds. They add richness and help you absorb the nutrients from the salad.
- Toss it well – Ensure all ingredients are evenly spread and coated with your dressing by giving your salad a good toss before serving. Another good tip? Wait to put the dressing on until right before you eat the salad. This will prevent it from getting soggy.
Tips for using kale in any salad recipe
I love using kale in my salads, but I admit, it took some practice. Kale is a nutrient-rich green that can be a bit tough to chew if not prepared correctly. Here are some tips to ensure you get the best out of your kale salad.
- Choose the right kale – Not all kale is the same. Curly kale can be quite tough, while Lacinato kale (also known as dinosaur or Tuscan kale) is slightly softer. Baby kale is also a great alternative, as it is much more tender. I like using baby kale in my salads the most, as it does not require any cooking or massaging ahead of time.
- Remove the stems – Kale stems are particularly tough and not very pleasant to eat. Remember to remove them before you make your salad.
- Massage your kale – This may sound strange, but massaging your kale can make a huge difference. Rub the leaves with a bit of olive oil and salt for a few minutes. This will break down the cellulose structure and make the kale softer and easier to chew.
- Pair with robust ingredients – Kale can stand up to other robust flavors and textures. Try pairing it with roasted veggies, strong cheeses, or hearty grains.
- Use a good salad dressing –The toughness of kale can be counteracted by a bold dressing. A tangy vinaigrette or creamy dressing can do wonders.
- Let it marinate – If you have the time, let your kale salad sit for a bit before eating it. The dressing will further help to soften the kale.
- Chop it small – Chopping the kale into small, thin strips can also make it easier to eat and digest.
Delicious salad add-ins that work well with kale
Kale is a versatile leafy green that pairs well with a variety of ingredients. Here are some delicious add-ins that complement kale’s unique flavor:
- Nuts and seeds – Almonds, walnuts, or sunflower seeds add a delightful crunch and support your body’s absorption of kale’s nutrients.
- Sweet fruits – Apples, pears, or dried cranberries can balance the slight bitter flavor of kale.
- Citrus – Lemon or orange segments can give your salad a refreshing zest.
- Cheeses – A sprinkle of vegan cheese will do wonders for your kale salad.
- Grains – Quinoa, farro, or bulgur add substance and make your salad more filling.
- Legumes – Chickpeas, black beans, or lentils can provide a protein boost.
- Roasted vegetables – Roasted beets, sweet potatoes, or brussels sprouts offer a warm, hearty addition.
- Avocado – This provides a creamy texture and healthy fats. It is easily one of my favorite salad additions.
- Herbs and spices – Most people do not think to add herbs and spices to their salads! Fresh herbs like basil, oregano, and thyme or spices like cumin and turmeric can elevate the salad’s flavor profile.
The best thing about this kale salad recipe is that it is very versatile. You can add or remove ingredients depending on your preferences. I often use this as a base recipe, and then mix up the toppings and flavors depending on what is in season, or what is on sale at the grocery store.
Healthy Vegan Salad With Kale and Quinoa
- ¼ cup cooked quinoa
- 1/2 lemon zested
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 garlic clove minced
- ¼ tsp sugar optional
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 cups kale roughly 4 handfuls, stems removed, or use baby kale
- 1 tbsp. fresh chopped dill not dried
- 1 tbsp. fresh chopped basil
- ¼ red onion sliced thin
- 2 tbsp. sliced almonds
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- vegan cheese optional
- Begin by preparing the quinoa as per the package instructions and set it aside.
- Gather the lemon zest, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, Dijon mustard, minced garlic, sugar (if you choose to include it), and some salt and pepper to taste.
- You can either use a bowl and a whisk, ensuring that all the ingredients are well combined until the dressing is emulsified, or you can put all the ingredients into a mason jar, secure the lid, and shake it vigorously until the ingredients are well mixed.
- Grab a large bowl and add in the kale, ensuring the stems have been removed.
- Then, add in the fresh chopped dill, fresh chopped cilantro, thinly sliced red onion, sliced almonds, cranberries and quinoa. Mix to combine.
- Drizzle the dressing over the salad, toss it well until everything is evenly coated with the dressing. Top with vegan cheese, if desired.