I know, I know. I’m always jabbering on about my new favorite kale salad and waxing poetic about kale salads in general. This salad, though! It’s crisp, sweet (but not too sweet) and features seasonal fennel and apple, which is a new-to-me pairing that you will definitely see again. I’ll admit that licorice-flavored fennel was a bit of an acquired taste for me, but now I can’t get enough of it.
I’m not-so-secretly plotting to convert all visitors into kale salad enthusiasts, so I’m crossing my fingers you’ll give this salad a shot. It definitely went over well at girls’ night last week. I served it with a cheese plate, crackers, grapes and wine, of course.
One final selling point before I go. Kale salads keep well in the refrigerator for a couple of days, which means this salad is a great candidate for your lunchbox!
- 1 very large bunch of kale
- 1 medium Honeycrisp apple
- 1 medium bulb of fennel
- 3 ounces chilled goat cheese, crumbled (to yield about ⅓ cup crumbled goat cheese)
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds) or chopped pecans
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- Several twists of freshly ground black pepper
- To prepare the kale: Use a chef's knife to remove the tough ribs from the kale, then discard the ribs. Chop the kale leaves into small, bite-sized pieces. Transfer the chopped kale to a big salad bowl. Sprinkle a small pinch of sea salt over the kale and massage the leaves with your hands by lightly scrunching big handfuls at a time, until the leaves are darker in color and fragrant.
- To prepare the remaining salad ingredients: Chop the apple into small, bite-sized pieces. Use a chef's knife or mandoline to slice the fennel as thin as possible. Transfer the prepared apple and fennel to the salad bowl. Use a fork to crumble the goat cheese over the salad. Roughly chop the cranberries and add them to the bowl.
- To toast the pepitas: In a skillet over medium-low heat, toast the nuts, tossing frequently, until fragrant and starting to make little popping noises, about 3 to 6 minutes. Transfer the pepitas to a bowl to cool.
- To make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients until emulsified.
- To prepare the salad: Add the cooled pepitas to the salad bowl. Drizzle dressing over the salad, just enough to lightly coat the kale once tossed (you might have some leftover dressing). Toss the salad well. For best flavor, let the salad rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Storage suggestions: This salad keeps well in the fridge, covered, for a couple of days. It's a great pack-for-lunch option.
Change it up: Trade other fall/winter produce for the fennel and apple. I think cubed and roasted butternut squash would be delicious.