This make-ahead kale salad won't wilt or get soggy. Toss one together before a party or prep a few portions for easy weekday lunches and dinners.
I’m so much more likely to eat a salad when it’s ready to go in the fridge, but most pre-made green salads get wilted and soggy in a matter of hours. Luckily, kale is hearty enough to stand up to the leftovers test.
In addition to its convenience for meal prepping, this Make-Ahead Kale Salad is one of my favorite weekday lunch recipes for fall and winter because it’s full of seasonal flavor from cranberries, citrus, and spicy ginger and garlic.
The real trick, though, is massaging the kale leaves before you mix them with the other ingredients. Have you ever tried it?
How (and Why) to Massage Kale
Massaging kale is an important step when you’re using it raw for a salad. Kneading the leaves helps soften them and releases some of the sugars. This improves the texture and balances out some of the raw kale’s natural bitterness.
The first step is prepping the kale leaves.
Separate the leaf from the stem (or rib) by grabbing the stem with one hand and placing the fingers of your other hand where the leaf meets the stem. Then, pull your fingers along the stem from one end to the other, stripping the leaf off from the rib as you go.
Next, give your kale a massage.
Put the kale leaves in a bowl and massage with your hands for 3-5 minutes. (The process is similar to how you’d knead bread dough.) You’ll notice the leaves breaking down and becoming softer as you go.
How can you make this kale salad more filling?
There’s already a lot of filling fiber, and the almonds and hemp hearts add some plant-based protein to help you feel satisfied.
If you’re looking for more staying power, you have some other options. Stir in roasted chickpeas, lentils, or white beans. Add a couple of scoops to a tortilla or serve it as a side dish with baked tempeh or crispy tofu.
How to Store Kale Salad
You can store this salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days.
This is an easy recipe to make in advance whenever it works best for you. Lunches for days!
looking for more ways to use fresh kale?
Try these dark leafy recipes:
- Harvest Za’atar Kale Salad
- Mushroom Kale Black Bean Taco Bake
- Creamy Vegan Pasta with Mushrooms and Kale
- Savory Miso Kale Breakfast Bowls
Keep this make-ahead cranberry orange kale salad on hand for a quick, weekday lunch or refreshing side dish for the holidays.
- 1 bunch red kale (1 pound)
- 1 bunch green kale (1 pound)
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries
- ⅓ cup hemp hearts
- ⅓ cup chopped almonds (toasted if desired)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon orange peel
- 1 ½ tablespoons orange juice
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon grated ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- salt and pepper
Tear kale leaves from stems and add to a large mixing bowl. Massage kale with hands 3 minutes, or until tender. Stir in cranberries, hemp hearts, and almonds.
In a separate bowl, whisk together olive oil, orange peel, orange juice, maple syrup, ginger, garlic, and salt and pepper.
Pour dressing over salad and toss until evenly coated.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to seven days.
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Did you try this recipe?
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This post was originally published on November 29, 2017, and most recently updated on September 24, 2019.