I came across this chopped kale cranberry salad in a local restaurant. The ingredients sounded so tasty, and I found the idea behind the salad to be impressive. But the restaurant chef was a little stingy with the ingredients, and for a pile of chopped kale it seemed a bit pricey. When I got home, I searched the internet and found similar salads, adjusting them to have the same ingredients as the restaurant salad, only dialed up for maximum flavor! I am so thrilled to have this salad to make at home! It is by far my favorite salad.
Before assembling your salad, you need to cook the farro (or another grain of your choice), clean and rinse the kale, and toast the almonds or other nuts. If you prefer a gluten free salad, use a gluten free grain instead of the farro, or eliminate the grains altogether.
The kale should be as dry as possible before it’s chopped. The oil in the dressing needs to be able to soak into the kale leaves, to help soften them. If you haven’t eaten kale this way before, I promise it will be your favorite way to prepare it once you do.
Massaging the kale into the dressing is a little messy, but it’s worth it! You just have to get all the leafy bits off of your hands afterward and then wash them to remove the oil.
If you haven’t toasted nuts on the stove top before, you might enjoy looking at my Kitchen Basics for Roasting & Toasting Nuts. Stove top nut toasting is super easy and only takes a few minutes.
The vinaigrette is supposed to have some spicy jalapeño heat, but we’ve gotten dud peppers before, which had no heat at all. With this salad, I make the dressing with half the pepper, then construct the salad. After the salad has been in the fridge for a half hour to an hour, I taste it. If there isn’t any heat to the salad, I add the rest of the jalapeño. The heat of the pepper should balance with the other flavors, without overwhelming the sweetness of the fruit or tanginess of the vinegar.
If you are looking for other salad recipes, you might want to have a look at my Salads section.
Chopped Kale Cranberry Salad with Apricot Jalapeño Vinaigrette
This is my favorite salad - it's tangy, spicy, sweet, crunchy and super delicious!
Before getting started:
Cook the farro or your favorite grain, according to package instructions. Set aside to cool. (This can be done earlier in the day or the day before.)
Sort through the kale, removing any large stems or yellow leaves. Rinse the kale, then spin in a salad spinner or shake in a towel to dry. Spread the kale onto cutting boards or baking sheets to continue drying, patting the leaves with a towel or paper towel. Get the kale as dry as possible.
Toast the almonds, walnuts or pecans in a small skillet on low to medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes, turning them occasionally while they cook. Remove the pan from the heat and remove the nuts from the pan to cool. Once the nuts are cool, chop them with a sharp knife or in a food processor. Set aside.
To make the vinaigrette:
To a small saucepan, add the dried apricots and vinegar and bring to a boil. Continue boiling for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside for 10 minutes. Strain the vinegar into a cup.
On a cutting board, chop the boiled apricots.
In a large mixing bowl (you will add the kale to it later), mix the olive oil, mustard and 1/4 cup of the apricot vinegar.
Stir in the chopped apricots and jalapeños.
To make the salad:
Once the kale is dry (as close to dry as possible), chop 4 or 5 cups of kale at a time with a knife or in a food processor until it is finely cut into pieces measuring 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch. Add the chopped kale into the large mixing bowl once it is chopped, stirring into the dressing to coat.
Once all of the kale has been added to the bowl, massage the kale for a minute with your hands to work the dressing into it, which will soften the leaf pieces.
To the salad, add the chopped celery, red onion, half of the chopped nuts, and the chopped 1/2 of the dried cranberries. Toss to combine.
Add the cooled cooked farro (or other cooked grain) and gently stir the salad to blend in.
Before serving, taste the salad and add any additional fresh jalapeño, to taste.
Top each salad with chopped nuts, whole cranberries and vegan parmesan. Can serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.
Will keep in the refrigerator, covered, for 3 to 4 days.