This hearty, fall Kale Salad with Quinoa and Cranberries is made even better by massaging the kale which helps break down the tough cell structure and gives the raw kale a softer texture and gentler flavor.
WHICH KALE IS BEST FOR SALADS?
Lacinato kale is the best type of kale for salads. It’s also known as dinosaur kale and Tuscan kale. Lacinato is more tender than curly kale, which is typically better in cooked dishes like pastas or soups.
HOW DO YOU SOFTEN RAW KALE?
Massaging raw kale with dressing softens it. Just pour the dressing on the kale and start rubbing it into the leaves until the kale gets darker in color and more tender. Massaging is the most important step in prepping raw kale for a salad. You definitely don’t want to skip it!
This recipe is meant to be a road map for creating your perfect kale salad, so play with your favorite nuts, dried fruits, cheeses, and whole grains. Some ideas for different mix-ins are walnuts, pecans, dried cherries, dried dates, white cheddar, goat cheese, farro, and couscous.
You can also try curly kale, although it tastes slightly grassier than lacinato.
For the dressing:
- 1 large garlic clove, grated or finely minced
- 1 small shallot, minced
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
- Kosher salt to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the salad:
- 1 bunch lacinato kale, center ribs removed, leaves finely chopped
- ¼ cup sliced almonds
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- 2 tablespoons grated or shaved Parmesan cheese
- Combine all of the ingredients for the dressing in a large bowl and set aside while you prep the kale. (This will soften the shallots and allow the flavors to get friendly).
- Add the chopped kale to the bowl with the dressing. Massage the kale in handfuls—literally rub the leaves between your fingers—for a minute or two, until the leaves soften and darken in color. (Yes, I know giving your salad a rubdown is a little weird, but it’s worth it. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP.) Briefly set aside.
- Toast the almonds. Heat a small skillet over medium heat. (Do not put any oil in the pan!) Add the almonds to the pan and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, shaking the pan regularly, until golden brown and fragrant. Immediately transfer to a small bowl.
- Add the quinoa, along with half of the almonds and half of the cranberries to the kale and toss to combine.
- Transfer your salad to a serving platter or plates, top with the remaining almonds and cranberries, and sprinkle with the cheese.
NOTESYOU DO YOU: This recipe is meant to be a road map for creating your perfect kale salad, so play with your favorite nuts, dried fruits, cheeses, and whole grains. You can also try curly kale, although it tastes slightly more grassy than lacinato.