Kale Cranberry Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette is an easy summer salad that’s filled with nutritious ingredients. Kale, cranberries, and almonds are tossed in a light lemon vinaigrette dressing.
Looking for a fresh, flavorful, and light salad for summer? You’ll love this kale cranberry salad because it’s easy to make, and you need only a handful of simple ingredients.
Kale, dried cranberries, and sliced almonds are tossed in a light and fresh tasting lemon vinaigrette salad dressing. Lemon adds a touch of bright citrus flavor to the homemade vinaigrette.
This salad perfect for a light lunch, or as a side dish with your favorite protein for dinner.
Ingredients and substitutions
For your salad, you’ll need curly kale, dried cranberries and sliced almonds.
For the vinaigrette, you’ll need salt, pepper, lemon zest, dijon mustard, maple syrup, olive oil, and lemon juice.
Lemon zest and lemon juice can be substituted with orange zest and orange juice instead, for an alternate (but equally delicious) flavor.
Maple syrup can be substituted with honey or other liquid sweetener you have on hand.
Preparing your kale
If you’ve never worked with kale before, it is a hearty, leafy green, with a chewy texture and earthy, peppery flavor. Because it is tough and hearty, it needs a little extra preparation before it’s ready for your salad.
- First, remove the ribs from your kale – this part is thick, harder to chew, and not ideal for a salad. Use a chef’s knife to slice the leaves off the center ribs and discard.
- Chop your kale into easy to eat, bite-size pieces.
- Massage your kale. Because kale is tough, you want to soften it a bit before dressing your salad. Once your kale is cleaned, chopped, and in a salad bowl, use clean hands and start massaging your kale. It’s kind of like kneading bread. Scrunch it up and toss it around in the bowl until it looks a little darker green and feels more tender. This should take less than a minute.
This amount of dressing is meant to lightly coat your salad, so there shouldn’t be any excess dressing pooling at the bottom of the bowl.
It may not look like enough dressing, but I promise it is. This kale salad is nice and light, and won’t leave you with that heavy feeling after lunch. I think you’ll enjoy it!
Kale Cranberry Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
- 8 ounces curly kale
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice or orange juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest or orange zest
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- Remove ribs from kale by slicing down each side of the rib with a knife. Then, chop kale leaves into bite size pieces and add to a large bowl. Massage kale leaves for one minute - lightly knead and scrunch leaves with clean hands until kale appears slightly darker and more tender. Add cranberries and almonds to kale and set aside.
- In a separate bowl, add olive oil, dijon mustard, maple syrup, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Whisk to combine, then pour over kale and gently toss until salad is evenly coated. Serve immediately.
- This recipe will make six side salads, or four larger lunch-sized salads.
- 8 ounces kale = about one bunch of kale from the grocery store.
- Almonds can be substituted with chopped walnuts or pecans.
- Maple syrup can be substituted with honey or other liquid sweetener. I do not recommend omitting the sweetener, as it balances the tartness of the lemon.
- Salad is best enjoyed the same day, but will keep for two or more days in the refrigerator as a leftover.
- If making ahead, prepare salad and vinaigrette in separate bowls, then toss salad in dressing just before serving.