Strawberry Kale Salad with Nutty Granola Croutons

Lemony strawberry and kale salad with nutty granola croutons (SO good and good for you, too!) -

I keep thinking that someone will knock on my door and offer to mow my lawn. For a fee, of course—a fee that I will gladly pay. Yet no one has come knocking. My grass is only growing longer. And I am definitely not going to buy a mower and mow it myself. What’s a girl to do?

Google “lawn service,” probably. I will say, though, the overgrown green blanket outside my window is a lovely backdrop for my food photos. At my last apartment, my view consisted of strangers’ windows and a parking garage. Now I have big green trees and a yard that’s being overrun by weeds but if you squint, it just looks like a nice, uniform green.

granola ingredients and kale

We’d better start talking about this salad before I start going on about the neighborhood bunnies and squirrels again. (They are everywhere!) I’m totally obsessed with this salad. I basically took Deb’s kale salad and changed it up for spring. I added strawberries instead of apples, swapped lemon juice for apple cider vinegar in the dressing and kept the chopped radishes for some spicy crunch. Then I topped it all off with nutty, savory granola clusters that act as croutons. Granola in salad?! Trust me.

how to massage kale

I found the savory granola concept in Bon Appetit Magazine‘s April issue. Bon Appetit is always chock-full of good ideas and the April issue was especially full of them. I had already dog-eared a bunch of pages when I came across their recipe for savory granola. The headnote said that savory granola is a new restaurant trend. I thought, “Well, if all the cool kids are doing it…” and immediately got up to make some.

I’m not usually one to add croutons to my salad, but these granola “croutons” are a different story. You’re basically adding some freshly toasted, spiced nut mix to salad—clearly a good idea. Especially considering how well strawberries and oats play together. (You know what else strawberries go well with? Pizza.)

Savory granola croutons recipe -

The first time I made the granola, the egg white bound the nuts and oats together into huge clusters. The second and third times I made the granola, it didn’t seem to make much of a difference. Now I’m wondering if it’s because I baked the granola directly on my baking sheet the first time around, rather than lining the sheet with parchment paper like I did on my second and third tries. Does anyone have insight into the matter? I want to settle this matter once and for all!

(Vegans, I have suggestions on how to make this recipe without egg whites and goat cheese in the recipe footnotes.)

chopped strawberries and radishes

Unrelated to granola clusters, I’m chatting about vegetable ribbons, hemp seeds and Kansas City restaurants in Food and Wine’s Blogger Spotlight this week. :)

chopped strawberries and radishesSavory granola croutons recipe - cookieandkate.comLemony strawberry and kale salad with savory granola croutons - cookieandkate.comStrawberry, kale and goat cheese salad with nutty granola croutons - cookieandkate.comdog begging for strawberry

Strawberry Kale Salad with Nutty Granola Croutons
4.6 from 5 reviews
Recipe type: Salad
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
Raw kale, chopped strawberries and radishes, and crumbled goat cheese tossed in a tangy lemon dressing. Top that with savory, nutty granola "crouton" clusters for a hearty and healthy meal in a bowl. The recipe below yields enough salad for two full-sized portions or four side salads, and plenty of leftover granola croutons for future salads.
Kale salad
  • 8 ounces Tuscan kale or regular curly kale (one medium bunch)
  • ½ pound strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 4 to 5 medium radishes, sliced thin and roughly chopped
  • 2 ounces chilled goat cheese (or about ⅓ cup cup goat cheese crumbles)
Lemon honey mustard dressing
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 small lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon smooth Dijon mustard
  • 1½ teaspoons honey
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Nutty granola "croutons"
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • ½ cup raw shelled pistachios (or walnuts or pecans)
  • ½ cup whole almonds
  • ½ cup raw sunflower seeds
  • ¼ cup raw sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • ½ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 large egg white, beaten (optional, see note for vegans)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar
  1. To make the granola: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium bowl, toss the oats, pistachios, almonds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, fennel seeds, salt, and cayenne pepper. Stir in the beaten egg white, oil, and honey or agave nectar until well blended. Transfer mixture to a rimmed baking sheet and bake, stirring halfway, until golden, about 16-19 minutes. Let the granola cool on the baking sheet.
  2. To make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, mustard and honey until emulsified. Season with a dash of sea salt and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper.
  3. To prepare the kale: Use a chef's knife to remove the tough ribs from the kale, then discard the ribs (or feed them to your dog!). 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.
  4. To assemble the salad: Drizzle in the salad dressing (you might not need all of it) and toss well, until all of the kale is lightly coated in dressing. Add the sliced strawberries and chopped radishes, then use a fork to crumble the goat cheese over the salad. Toss again, then sprinkle with a couple handfuls of granola. For best flavor, let the salad rest for 15 minutes before serving (this gives the dressing time to soak into the kale).
Recipe adapted from Deb's kale salad and Bon Appetit's savory granola.
Massaged kale. What. Massaging the kale helps make the leaves more palatable, flavorful and fragrant. Don't worry, you won't hurt the kale in the process. :)
Why buy organic Conventionally grown strawberries and greens, like kale, tend to be high in pesticides, so it's best to buy organic berries and greens.
Make it vegan: Add diced avocado instead of goat cheese. Use agave nectar or maple syrup in place of the honey. Skip the egg white in the granola, but keep an eye on the granola near the end of baking. It might be done a couple minutes early.
Make it gluten free: Be sure to use certified gluten-free oats.
Storage suggestions: This salad keeps well, refrigerated and covered, for a day or so. Store the granola in an air-tight freezer bag in the freezer. It'll keep well for a couple of months. It's good on salads, with fruit, as a snack, on yogurt, etc.
Recommended equipment: My Oxo salad spinner helps get all of the water off greens. Watery greens repel salad dressing, which makes for a not-so-great salad.
If you love this recipe: You'll also love Deb's kale salad with apples and pecans, my kale, clementine and feta salad, Asian chopped kale salad, spinach, strawberry and quinoa salad and honey almond granola. Also check out How Sweet Eats' avocado citrus crunch salad with oat croutons.


  1. says

    oooOOOooooh i could get behind granola in salad! yum!

    the other day i got on a lawn mower for the first time and it was scary but then kind of fun ;)

    • says

      I think you’d like it! I mean, I could buy a lawn mower and mow the lawn myself, but given my inconsistent track record with the vacuum… I’m pretty sure the neighbors would complain.

  2. says

    You’re completely right – strawberries and granola are a match made in heaven. I’ll bet they were perfect combined with the kale. Kale is so popular these days that when I went to buy seeds for my garden, there wasn’t a packet left on the rack!

    • says

      Wow, we really are going kale crazy! Hope I can find some to plant this year before it’s too late. I keep procrastinating on my vegetable garden plans.

  3. Tess says

    The other day I thought of topping my salad with granola for some crunchy texture, but my sweet granola didn’t seem like an ideal match for the greens. Looks like you found the perfect way to do it, can’t wait to try it!

  4. says

    I haven’t quite gotten onto the kale trend yet (I’m trying to learn to love it) but I do love spinach, and I would assume you could make the salad with spinach or spring mix instead of the kale? I definitely want to try the savory granola — it sounds fantastic!

    • says

      Hey Sarah! If you haven’t tried massaging kale for your salads yet, it might change your mind about kale. Spinach or spring mix would be fine substitutions (no massaging required), just beware that the greens will start wilting right after you add the dressing, so eat quickly!

  5. says

    The idea of savory granola and of granola as croutons is fantastic :) I love adding tons of seeds and nuts to salad so why not some toasty oats too? Really neat, I make my own maple-every-kind-of-nut-ever granola and I think even sweet it would be a good addition to some of the more generously fruit-topped salads I usually pack for lunch!

  6. Amanda says

    Oh man! This looks tremendous. Think it’s gonna be my go to this summer! Good luck with your lawn! :)

  7. says

    This salad certainly sounds like a delicious way to shovel even more fresh spring strawberries into my mouth! Not that I need an excuse. :) The granola croutons are a really interesting idea too. I might have to make up a batch of them just for snacking.

  8. says

    Yum, yum, yum. I’ve been making a strawberry avocado kale salad for years but this nutty granola addition is totally floating my boat. I like salad for breakfast often anyway but this would be even more breakfast appropriate!!

  9. says

    We desperately need our lawn mowed, as well. I Googled “mowing service” and contacted a couple of places but have yet to hear back. Our grass is seriously getting out of control.

    I am in love with those croutons! I can’t wait to try them! :)

    • says

      Good grief, why is it so hard to find someone to mow a lawn?! When I was in high school, it was the gig to have. Hope you give the croutons a try soon!

  10. says

    I love a good kale sale! And I totally trust you on the granola clusters in a salad…if anyone could make it work, it’d be you! p.s. did your friend tell you about us running into each other a couple of weekends ago?

  11. says

    Another total stunner!! I can’t shed much light on the whole baking directly on the baking sheet vs parchment issue because I always use parchment. It’s not for any reason other than that I hate washing up. As for the granola croutons, I love this idea! There’s a restaurant here that does the same thing (although theirs are quite sweet) and I love the unexpected flavour they add. Awesome job, Kate!

    • says

      Thank you, Angela! Washing big baking sheets is such a pain, I’m with you on that! Glad you approve of the granola croutons idea.

  12. says

    I would never think to put strawberries in a salad, but this looks heavenly. I bet they really jazz up the kale.
    PS Cookie is the cutest. That face.

  13. bonnie says

    Hey Katie, this salad looks amazing! I have learned a trick with getting clusters thanks to Pbandpeppers blog, once the granola is finished cooking, turn off the oven and leave it in the oven with the oven door partially opened, I have gotten nice big clusters using this technique!

  14. Rachel D. says

    Thanks for coming up with a way for the rest of us to be “cool kids” too! I made the granola yesterday and the vinaigrette this morning so the hubs and I could enjoy this for lunch. Awesome salad. Yay, Cookie & Kate! :)

  15. says

    Savory granola croutons? I missed that in the magazine! Brilliant! Love this salad, Kate. And congratulations on a wonderful Food & Wine feature! Vegetable ribbons ftw :)

  16. Lauren says

    Just came across your site and I’m SO glad I did – will immediately be sharing with my friends/family who also love healthy eats! I popped over and read your Food & Wine blogger spotlight – I’m a KC native so I love to hear when transplants fall in love with the city, too! Maybe I’ll run into you and Cookie walking around Loose Park sometime this summer :)

  17. says

    Salad of summer starts NOW. And given how often I vacuum my apartment, if I had anything resembling a lawn…it would probably look like a mini jungle. :P

  18. Lisa says

    I just found this recipe yesterday and made it right away. This is hands down one of the best salads I have ever had! My husband agrees. This will be a regular at our house! The granola makes enough for many more salads and I assume I can just freeze it to have ready for next time. The fennel seeds really add alot. Thanks for the great recipe!

  19. says

    Another jealousy-inducing lunchbox idea! Thanks Kate.
    I love how Cookie’s eyes are trained on that strawberry. She is definitely using the force to will it into her mouth :)
    I love the idea of savoury granola – who doesn’t love crunchy things in their salad!

  20. Elena says

    I’m going to be honest – I was skeptical about this…I typically don’t like fruit in my salad. However, something about this recipe really intrigued me. I’m sure glad it did, because this salad is delicious. I’ve made it multiple times already! It taste just like summer! Thank you!

    • says

      Elena, so glad to hear you’re enjoying the salad! I don’t like super sweet salads myself, but that tangy dressing balances out the strawberries nicely. Enjoy!

  21. Alyssa says

    This granola is so great! I’ve honestly never thought of making savory granola before. Such a good idea! We subbed grainy mustard for dijon, and we’re adding avocado to use up leftovers…super delicious!

  22. annie says

    This is such a pretty salad. I was so looking forward to making it and tonight I finally had all of the ingredients to give it a try. The granola topping was too spicy for me, but now I know and can modify. The salad itself was kind of plain and for some reason the kale didn’t soften up the way it usually does with kale. The consensus around the table was “strange.” To be fair, I did make some modifications, like baby turnips instead of radish and a bit less dressing than it called for. I would like to magically transport myself into the kitchens where it came out right, lol!

    • says

      Hey Annie, I’m bummed your salad didn’t turn out well. I don’t know that turnips would lend the same bite and crunch that radishes do, and it’s probably pretty difficult to find great strawberries this time of year. Did you massage the kale as directed? The acidic component in the dressing usually further softens up the kale (in this case, lemon juice), but if you didn’t use enough dressing to lightly coat the kale, then that wouldn’t happen. Anyway, I’m sorry you all didn’t love it!

  23. Rhonda B says

    This was delicious, a really unusual combination. Love kale salads for lunch, and love your index of 12 different ones—please keep them coming!

  24. says

    What a beautiful spring salad! I write a newsletter that includes recipes for a local CSA and I’m definitely going to include a link to your site!

  25. Elizabeth says

    I REALLY enjoyed this recipe. So did my husband. And I cannot stop picking at this granola. So good! Although there is truly nothing “unhealthy” about this recipe… I couldn’t help but calculate the nutrition info. For 4 servings, instead of the suggested 2, here are my (surprising and kinda sad) numbers: 779 calories, an astonishing 59 grams of fat, 54 grams of carbs and (woohoo) 20 grams of protein. I will most definitely be making this recipe again but I was sad to see how high the calories and fat were. Thank you for the amazing meals!

    • says

      Thanks, Elizabeth! So glad you two enjoyed the salad. I wonder, are you including the full nutrition breakdown for the granola with the salads? I had quite a bit of granola left over, so if that’s the case for you, too, then your salads will have significantly fewer calories, etc.

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