vegan kale salad with cranberries, apples and toasted almonds

Marin Mama dressings, kale, kale salads, salads 23 Comments

kale, cranberry, apple and toasted almond salad with lemon dressing

kale, cranberry, apple and toasted almond salad with lemon dressingOne of my Christmas gifts from John was a vegan cooking class at Cavallo Point in Sausalito.  At first I was like, “Honey, a vegan cooking class?”  I mean I’m no vegan nor plan on being one anytime soon, but I was intrigued as I wanted to learn more about vegan cooking.  The instructor, Miyoko Schinner, is an amazingly vibrant woman.  She only cooks with whole and local ingredients (no processed ingredients here).  She has such great energy and enthusiasm for what she does, that she got the whole class excited to cook vegan.  Check out her website and videos and you will see what I mean.  

One of the recipes that we whipped up was this kale salad.  I knew from the start that I would like it, as I love kale in smoothies and sautéed in dishes, but I had never tried a raw kale salad before.  Let me tell you that I’m converted, and raw kale salads are the way to go! They taste like a normal salad, but they’re better, and so easy to make.

This was by far my favorite recipe of the evening.  The kale absorbed all the flavors of the lemon dressing and it was sweet but not too sweet.  I literally could have eaten a huge plate full.  I had the kids try this the other night and they ate a few bites and liked it. John loved it and has been requesting it for dinner ever since.  If you’re scared of kale or don’t think kale salad is your thing, please just give this a try.  It’s the perfect introduction to kale salads, as the dressing and the massaging of the kale breaks down the bitter taste.  This is a great salad to take to a potluck as it can be made and assembled that morning or hours before an event.  

kale, cranberry, apple and toasted almond salad with lemon dressing

vegan kale salad with cranberries, apples and toasted almonds:

Serves 4-6

  • 1 bunch kale, de-stemmed, and thinly sliced – I used a mixture of  lacinato kale and curly kale  – Click here to see step-by-step instructions on how to de-stem and thinly slice kale
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 1/2 apple sliced and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 1.5  juicy lemons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 cup maple syrup, agave or honey – You can use any one of these.  I used maple syrup
  • 1.5 ounces extra firm tofu – approximately 1/4 cup

Below are the ingredients you will need for the dressing.  

ingredients for kale, apple and cranberry salad First toast up the sliced almonds. To toast them, just put some sliced raw almonds in a dry skillet set over medium heat, and swirl them around in the pan for a few minutes until they become golden brown in color. Reserve them to the side.

toasting almondsZest and squeeze up your lemons. Wash, de-stem and thinly slice your kale.  If you’re not sure how to de-stem and slice kale then you can check out my post on how to de-stem and thinly slice kale, or you can watch the beginning part of my lacinato kale salad video for instructions as well.  This video has really helped my readers easily understand how to de-stem kale quickly over the sink.

Measure out your 1.5 ounces of tofu. I would highly recommend getting one of these portion scales or a scale in general.  I use this all the time when a recipes calls for ounces or grams.  If you don’t have this tool, then 1.5 ounces is roughly about 1/4 cup.
 Put your lemon juice, zest, olive oil, maple syrup and tofu in a blender and puree until smooth and creamy.  
blending the tofu, maple syrup, lemon juice, lemon zest and olive oil
Put your sliced kale into a bowl. 
kale before it's massaged
Pour in 1/2 of the dressing. This next step is a bit strange but very necessary.  Massage the dressing into the kale. Yes, you heard me right, “massage” the dressing into the kale.  You literally want to massage the kale with 2 hands making sure to squeeze the kale as you go along, do this step for about 1-2 minutes.  The volume of the kale should reduce by about 1/3 and the kale will wilt and have a cooked texture.  Keep adding the dressing to taste as you massage it.  
See how much the kale reduced down after it was massaged?
Taste the salad and if you want to add more dressing, then add a bit more.  This part is to taste.  The dressing makes enough for a double batch of this salad, so if you have extra dressing, then you can store it in a sealed container for up to a week.  Just make sure to stir or shake it before you use it next.
massaged kale
Add in your cranberries and let the salad sit for at least an hour to soften.  This salad can be made hours ahead of time (even in the morning).  The longer the kale sits, the softer the kale will become.  Note: If you are going to let this sit for more than an hour, then you will want to put it in a covered bowl in the refrigerator.  
When you are ready to serve your salad mix in your toasted nuts and diced apple.
kale, cranberry, apple and toasted almond salad with lemon dressing
This salad is filled with raw green goodness and packed with flavor.  I hope this becomes a popular go-to salad in your house and turns those kale haters into kale lovers.

Do you like Kale?  
What is your favorite Kale recipe?
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Comments 23

  1. Sharyn DImmick

    Jane Garrett of Mabel Dodge Luhan House taught me to make a similar salad with blanched kale: the differences are that you don’t need to massage it and the dressing takes tahini rather than tofu. It is now my favorite kale recipe. You can see it here:…/kale-conquered-the-kale-salad-i-love-and-t…

    1. Jacquelyn

      Hi Sharyn. I am going to give that kale salad a try as well. I loved this one so why not try another. It’s an easy and great way to get our kale in. Thanks for the recipe link :)

  2. andreadrugay

    That looks SO good! I love kale ~ we grow it during the winter sometimes, but usually eat it 1-3 times a week even if we’re not growing it ourselves. I usually chop & sautee with olive oil, garlic, and lemon ~ rarely make salad but this I will have to try! I like the idea of tahini in place of tofu, too!

    1. Jacquelyn

      Hi Andrea! I would love to grow kale as well as some of my favorite herbs. I think this spring I will have to do some planting. I usually sauté my kale or blend it in a smoothie as well. I was always afraid of trying a salad because I thought it would be to bitter, but I really love the way it tastes with the cranberries and the lemon dressing. Kale is now replacing my normal spinach and arugula salad.

  3. Mary

    Kale is not a favorite of mine, but your salad just might make me a convert. It looks and sounds delicious. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  4. Em (Wine and Butter)

    Mmme – looks so yummy! Im a kale obsessive. I like it steamed with SUPER mustardy vinegarette. Im also a fan of bought kale chips… but I’ve never quite managed to make my own taste a as good. A company called Raw Live ( I believe) make one with a cashew and sundried tomato coating that Ive been trying to recreate ever since.
    Your blog has made me miss sausilito! :)

    1. Jacquelyn

      Hi Em! Are you from the bay area? That super mustardy vinaigrette sounds very appealing, is the recipe posted on your blog? I love kale chips and make them quite often. My kids love them as well and they are a great after school snack alongside some popcorn.

  5. Jacquelyn

    Hi Stephanie! You don’t even taste the tofu in this recipe. Honestly, it’s just a itty bit that goes into this dressing. The agave and the lemon take on the flavor in the salad and if I told you there was tofu in this recipe, you wouldn’t even know it.

    I served this up to some friends that do not like tofu either and they loved this salad. You really don’t taste the bitterness of the kale either as there are so many flavors involved.

  6. Yvonne Fisher

    Amazing salad Jackie. My whole family loved this tonight. It was a perfect complement to gnocchi with fresh tomato sauce!

    1. Post

      Yaay girl! I’m so glad you tried the salad and that it was a hit. I love that Tucker loves kale, so cute! I’m so going to make gnocchi with tomato sauce next week, thanks for the idea. Was it homemade?

  7. Donna Gail Broussard (@itsdonnagail)

    My favorite kale dish in the world is so simple. I sautee onions in sesame oil and coconut oil until they are almost carmelized. I slice my kale into thin ribbons, stems and all, then cut it again crossways so it’s in 2 in by 1/3 inch strips. I add that into the onions and wilt the kale. Then I throw a couple tbsps. of San-J’s gluten-free thai peanut sauce. It’s so good you could eat bowls of it…and it’s so good for you, why not? Did you know onions reduce the risk of heart attack by over 70%? I put TONS of onions in this recipe, and their sweetness takes away any bitterness the kale might have.

    1. Post

      Hi Donna! Your recipe sounds great and I just love caramelized onions. I could seriously eat a whole bowl of them and mix them with kale, oh yeah :) I didn’t know that fact about onions and it makes me love them even more. Thanks for sharing your recipe. I will totally give it a try. xoxo, Jackie

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