Apple season is here! I’m usually so sad to see summer (and its glorious produce) go, but I’m actually looking forward to slowing down this fall. I’m going to bust out my cozy jackets and boots from their hiding places and take Cookie out to admire the changing leaves.
To celebrate the beginning of fall, I made a big kale salad with chopped apple and a lemony maple and mustard dressing. Goat cheese, cranberries and savory granola—yes, granola on a salad—round it out and make this salad a full meal.
I’m fully smitten with this granola-as-croutons concept, since I never have a loaf of crusty bread when I need it. You can toss it together in no time at all, and you’ll end up with plenty for two salads. As you’ve probably heard already, old-fashioned oats offer a number of beneficial qualities—they’re a good source of fiber, vitamins and minerals—so these croutons are more redeeming than most.
I’m also excited to announce that I’m teaming up with Quaker to promote their More Taste, Less Waste campaign, in partnership with the James Beard Foundation. The idea is to combine produce that often languishes away unused with oats, which are likely in your pantry.
Think apples, butternut squash, potatoes, pumpkins, spinach and kale—I’m cringing because I know I’ve let it happen. An astonishing 130 billion pounds of food gets thrown away each year, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
Let’s talk about how to change up this salad to take advantage of the extra produce you might find yourself with this season. You can replace the apples with roasted vegetables (sweet potato and Brussels sprouts are great), the kale with chopped spinach, and the goat cheese with cheddar or Parmesan. With those granola croutons, you can’t go wrong!
As always, let me know how your recipe turns out, and please share your recipe ideas with #JustAddOats. The possibilities are endless when you reimagine the foods in your kitchen.
Kale, Apple & Goat Cheese Salad with Granola “Croutons”
- Prep Time: 25 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 4 medium salads 1x
- Category: Salad
Nutty granola croutons complete this salad made with massaged raw kale, crisp chopped apple, and crumbled goat cheese tossed in a tangy lemon dressing. This recipe yields 4 medium salads, and twice as much granola as you’ll need—it stores well for future salads.
- 1 cup Quaker Old-Fashioned Oats
- ½ cup roughly chopped pecans
- ½ cup raw pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)
- ½ cup raw sunflower seeds
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1 large egg white, beaten
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
Lemony maple mustard dressing
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon smooth Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
- Hefty pinch of fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 large bunch or 2 small bunches (12 ounces) curly green kale
- 1 medium Honeycrisp, Granny Smith or Fuji apple
- 2 ounces chilled goat cheese, crumbled (about ½ cup)
- ¼ cup chopped dried cranberries
- To make the granola: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean-up. In a medium bowl, stir together the oats, pecans, pepitas, sunflower seeds, salt, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Stir in the beaten egg white, oil, and maple syrup until well blended. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking sheet and bake until golden, gently stirring the granola halfway, about 15 to 17 minutes. Let the granola cool on the baking sheet.
- To make the dressing: In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, maple syrup and salt. Season with a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper and whisk until blended. The dressing should be zippy, but if it’s overwhelmingly tart, stir in another teaspoon of sweetener. Or, if it needs some extra oomph, stir in another pinch of salt.
- 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.
- To assemble the salad, drizzle all of the dressing over the kale and toss well. Add the chopped apple, crumbled goat cheese, cranberries, and about half of the granola. Gently toss to combine, and serve. This salad will keep well, covered and refrigerated, for up to 4 days.
- Save the leftover granola for a snack or another salad. Store it in an air-tight bag with the air squeezed out for up to 2 weeks at room temperature, or several months in the freezer.
Make it egg free: Omit the egg white (your granola may be done a couple of minutes early, and won’t clump together quite as much).
Make it vegan: Omit the egg white and omit the goat cheese or replace it with a diced avocado.
Make it dairy free: Omit the goat cheese or replace it with a diced avocado.
Make it gluten free: Use certified gluten-free oats.
If you love this recipe: Check out more of my kale recipes and oat recipes!
▸ Nutrition Information
This post was created in partnership with Quaker and I received compensation for my participation. Opinions are my own, always. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who support C+K!
Sounds yummy! Looking forward to giving it a try this weekend.
Thanks, Christine! Hope you love it. :)
In the granola instructions you left out the olive oil
jordan @ dancing for donuts
SO in love with this idea and this recipe sounds absolutely incredible!! thank you for also including so many options for diet restrictions :)
I sure try! Thanks, Jordan!
This is right up my alley! So is that spinach and artichoke dip! I am looking forward to trying more of your recipes from your cookbook and site when I have a week off soon. So much fun experimenting in the kitchen with all your good ideas. Thank you.
Thank you so much, Jill! Glad to hear that. :)
Thanks for this idea. I am making it tonight!
Thank you, Jenny! I hope you loved it.
I love that you’re bringing attention to food waste — it’s one of those issues that we don’t talk about enough, and that each of us can work to reduce with smart recipes like this one! You rock! I can’t wait to make this salad this weekend :)
Thank you so much, Rose! This is a great recipe to keep handy for those random leftover kale/veggies. :)
It’s like you know my kale plants are at their height right now, and my Gravenstein apples need using up.
As an aside, in your cookbook, you have a mustard-based dressing that you say is best when eaten fresh. I disagree – it’s best eaten when you’ve forgotten about it in your fridge for a couple weeks and stumble upon it during fridge-purging time. Then, it’s excellent – It ages wonderfully.
How perfect! Hope you enjoyed it, Sara. And, I’m glad the mustard dressing held up well! I think it loses some bite over time.
Thank you for the new kale recipe! I was just thinking I needed a new autumn-inspired kale salad recipe, and then this pops up today.
Love the recipe but kind of bummed to see you sponsoring Quaker who isn’t doesn’t advocate for non-gmo’s or organics.
I thought your philosophy was all about organic seasonal meals so it’s disappointing to see you partner with someone like Quaker.
Hi K, I’m sorry to hear that you’re disappointed in my decision. I am all about approachable/affordable/fresh/healthy/seasonal meals, and I often choose organic options when they’re available. I believe that food choices are all relative, and oats (and salad) are a far healthier choice than many other grocery store options. You are always welcome to use your preferred brands in my recipes!
This looks like fall in a bowl!! Love it. And the granola croutons are genius. The first time I put granola in my salad I was like “Why have I not been doing this for years??” YUM!
Right?! Once you add granola to a salad, you can’t stop.
This looks delicious!! I have to start digging into more of your salads! In terms of throwing out less food, do you have any suggestions on using up (or storing) fresh herbs? They are my biggest culprit. I end up buying a bunch of cilantro or parsley for a recipe, use a couple of stems and throw the rest out ;(
That’s a great question, Christa. I tend to go through a lot of fresh cilantro and parsley (they add such a great burst of freshness and some detoxifying nutrients). They last much longer if you remove the band around their base when you get home—that’s where they tend to start going bad, and then it just spreads. To make them last even longer, loosely wrap a half-sheet of paper towel around the leafy end. And, they need some space—don’t store them where the leaves get all smushed. Hope that helps!
Wash the remaining herbs pat them dry then lay them on dry paper towels to completely dry. Store the dried herbs in small bottles and use in recipes all winter.
Don’t forget to recycle the paper towels when you are finished with them!
I love this creative and savory granola crouton addition to this salad or any salad. Thanks for the inspiration to think outside the sweet side of the usual breakfast type granola.
Thank you, Jerilyn! I hope you enjoy the salad if you get a chance to make it!
AHHH those granola croutons though!!!
kale is calling my name! baby #4 was born last week and for the whole pregnancy, eating any type of dark (read: good!) salad greens made me vomit. yeah, not fun. the quantity of spinach I’ve eaten this week since his birthday is almost shameful. haha! this salad might be next on the list. love goat cheese & apples together!
Get all those greens, Jamie! Congrats on your new baby. :)
I made this as a side for my dinner last night. I’m vegan so I subbed in some Miyoko’s vegan cheese (the country style herbes de Provence) instead of the goat cheese and didn’t include the egg in the granola, but otherwise made as written and it was SO GOOD. SO SO GOOD. I hate leftover anything and I am actively looking forward to eating the leftovers for lunch today, that’s how good.
That Miyoko cheese is so delicious! Delighted to hear that this salad turned out so well for you, Liz. I can’t get enough of it!
This sounds AMAZING!
Abby @ Heart of a Baker
Now I’m wondering why I haven’t done granola croutons before, brilliant!
This is yummdelicious! But I made a lot of changes/substitutions for my lazy and time pressed life. I didn’t want to spend the time making the dressing, so I found the best premade Honey Mustard dressing with the healthiest ingredients, Primal Kitchen. Ditto the granola crotons so I purchased some bulk maple flavored granola (the one with the least junk) and also through in some sunflower seeds. Used Lacinato kale instead of curly (prefer it). So I tossed up the kale, pieces of Honeycrisp apple, goat cheese, juice sweetened dried cranberries, granola, sunflower seeds, and the dressing. Yummy! My new favorite way to eat kale!
Thanks, Mona! Sounds like your shortcuts worked great, I’m glad!
Oh my goodness, I just made this and it was absolutely delicious! The dressing is PERFECT with apples & goat cheese!
Thank you so much, Kyoko!
I am wondering if whipped aquafaba could replace the egg white for the granola?! I might try and let you know how it turns out… Thanks Kate for this post about food wasting, it’s a shame in our Western countries…
That’s a great idea! I haven’t played around with aquafaba yet. Please let me know if you give it a try.
Jill A Lucas
I made this salad yesterday and it was delicious. My granola didn’t clump into “croutons”, but it still tastes great! Thanks for a tasty recipe for Fall.
Thank you, Jill! It helps if you try to stir the granola as gently as possible when you get to the halfway point of breaking. Adding an extra little drizzle of olive oil to the bowl might help, too.
It is incredible.
I made this this weekend and it was so wonderful. What a great idea to pair the kale salad with granola. Your recipes are always so fantastic…I’m loving your cookbook as well!
Thank you so much, Tan! I really appreciate it.
I have made this salad twice this week and am going for round three tonight. Can one overdose on kale? If so you should beware this delicious salad.
Haha! So glad you’re loving this one, Casey. And actually, eating crazy amounts of kale/spinach can lead to kidney stones, so don’t eat this for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
A great way to eat kale. Loved this salad. My whole family loved this one.
Thank you so much, Lorrie! Delighted to hear it.
This salad is so good! I’m vegan and left out the cheese and eggs. This salad tastes like dessert but is so good for you! It is on the sweeter side but I like sweeter salads once in a while. Thanks for another amazing recipe Kate!
Thank you very much, Lavanya! So glad this one worked well for you.
I was a little skeptical about the croutons, but they were delicious! I didn’t have quite enough kale so I threw in some pea shoots, romaine, and arugula I had in my fridge. Delicious!
Sounds like a great combination, Rebecca! Thank you for your review!
This salad is AMAZING! It turns out best if you chop the kale into small pieces.
I am glad you enjoyed it! If you wanted to provide a star review since you liked it so much, I would really appreciate it Candyce. Thank you!!
I’m not a big granola person, but this was AMAZING. You were spot on with making a good amount to save to snack on – so yummy!
Happy you thought so, Daniella! Thanks so much for the review. If you like the granola so much, just make a batch of that for your snack or even to top off yogurt :)
I made this without the croutons (I did not have all the ingredients). Otherwise I followed the instructions. The salad was incredible! My husband and I loved it. The flavors were incredible. And the leftovers made for a great lunch the next day!
Thank you for your comment, Heidi! Next time, if you have the ingredients, the croutons make this even better :) I love eating the extras through the week!
I am obsessed with this salad! I added the croutons this time and they made the salad even better. Delish! Thanks for the awesome recipe!
I made this salad and it was delish. My sister’s and I loved it. How many calories is it if I may ask?
That’s great to hear! Just for future reference, the nutrition information is below the notes section of the recipe. :) But for one serving for this salad, it is about 471 calories. Please see my nutrition disclaimer if you have questions!
My favorite salad is a similar recipe; Deb’s Kale salad with apple, cranberries and pecans. I found it on your site. I am sure your granola would taste great on the salad. I personally love toasting almonds and using them. I love the Lacinato Kale and have friends my age(60’s) who tell me they hate Kale salads. I am going to try and convert them. I am also going to grow lots of Lacinato Kale in my garden. (The Red Kale is nice too.) Thanks for giving me a good dish for a potluck dinner!
Fresh garden kale sounds wonderful! They are both great ones for sure. I appreciate the review!
Crunch in a salad, real crunch, is so very satisfying. I never considered granola but after reading this I know I will. What a beautiful salad this turned out to be.
It’s a great combination! I appreciate your review.
Thank you so much for the Kale, Apple and Goat Cheese Salad recipe. Everyone loved it! Such a delightful combination of flavors!
I’m happy everyone loved it, Liz! Thank you for your comment and review.
Silly question, but how far does one “beat” the egg whites? Like w a hand mixer or just a hand whisk? BTW, I own your book and refer to your website every week for veggies, beans, and salads.
When beat, I usually recommend mixer. But, it depends on the recipe and user. Thanks for the support, Amy!
First time trying a kale salad! I skipped the croutons, and added toasted pecans. Everyone loved it… well, my toddlers tolerated the 2 bites I made them try more for the rest of us!
I’m glad it was loved by everyone! Two bites sounds like a win with toddlers!
I made this for lunch meal prep, and I have to say that it is one of the best salads I’ve ever tasted! It is seriously packed with flavor. I’m already looking forward to eating it again tomorrow! Your recipes never disappoint. Thanks so much for what you do! :)
Hooray! I love to hear that, Sara. Thanks for sharing.
Nice recipe. Thank you for it.
Tonight is my night of eating my leftovers from making Kate’s recipes. Since I shared what I did with my huevos rancheros leftovers, I’ll share my tip with this salad: the secret here, I think, is that this dressing is amazing with apples. So I sometimes make a snack by just slicing an apple and eating it with this dressing as a dip.
I guess my dog is a strict carnivore lol. She took one bite and then looked at me with eyes of betrayal. I on the other hand really enjoyed this salad. Lovely balance of flavors and much more filling than many other salad recipes I’ve tried. Thanks for the recipe!
That’s too funny! More for you then. Thank you for your review, Juliana!
Just made this, it is perfect! I think massaging the kale makes a big difference, thanks for the tip. I just recently found your blog, loving every recipe I try!
Thank you so much for the recipe! Everyone enjoyed it! But— do you have any other suggestions for the dressing, I wasn’t a fan of the mustard. Thanks :)
Made it and loved it. This one’s a keeper!
Loves the dressing and this recipe!! Saved it to make again. Skipped the granola to cut fat and sugar.
Hi Kate, this sounds yummy! Is it possible to use quick cooking old fashion oats without altering the cook time? Also, any suggestions are cutting some of the fat/calories? Thanks!
Hi Stacy, I don’t think you will get the same results with the croutons as they won’t likely stick together. You can always omit the croutons or have a smaller serving to decrease the calories.
Tart, sweet, crunchy and kale! Loved it!
Tried this fall version since I knew I loved the strawberry kale granola salad and it was equally delicious! Added quinoa and beans for protein and enjoyed it for weekday lunches.
This salad is awesome! My whole family loved it. Some of the yummiest granola ever, and such a creative, delicious salad topping. I did use just 1T of olive oil in the dressing, because I like a lower fat, zippy dressing. I thought it tasted very balanced. I will be making this salad again and again.
This recipe is really great! But, don’t give your dogs a bunch of kale because it has a lot of calcium oxalate which can give dogs kidney and bladder stones.
This is the first time I’ve made granola croutons and they are so yummy! I lined a rimmed sheet pan with a silpat mat for baking. I spread out the mixture, then pressed it into an even layer. Rotated the pan while naking, but did not stir. Let cool completely on the pan and got nice big chunks of granola!
Thank you for sharing, Vickie!
Made this recipe for my husband tonight and he said it was THE BEST kale salad he`s ever had!! Probably going to make this at least once a week, sooooo yummy with the granola croutons! Thanks for this great recipe, Kate!!
I love to hear that, Anja! I appreciate you taking the time to review.
I just made this salad for a big group, doubling the recipe, and my salad bowl was nearly empty at the end of the night. Thanks so much for this recipe!
We make this recipe at least every other day. The only changes I make are to replace the granola with low-salt, chopped almonds and to add preserved lemon.
Your recipes are consistently amazing. Thank you!
You’re welcome, Linda! Thank you for your review.