Kale Salad with Carrot Ginger Dressing

This happy, feel-good kale salad recipe is packed with colorful vegetables, crispy chickpeas, avocado, cranberries, and pepitas. Great for lunch!

Rainbow Kale Salad with Carrot Ginger Dressing

Is it just me, or does it seem like the kale salad has gone out of style? For a while there, the internet was a kale-crazy place to be, but it seems to have fallen out of favor due to Brussels sprouts salads, roasted squash salads, and even pasta salads. While I was pondering this important life issue, I realized that it had not only been a while since I’d posted a kale recipe – it had been a while since I’d even made a kale salad for myself… so I thought – let’s bring it back(!) with this super fresh, colorful, rainbow salad recipe.

Rainbow Kale Salad with Carrot Ginger Dressing

The guest star of this recipe is the creamy carrot ginger dressing that you see in the photo above. I make it by blending roasted carrots with ginger and tangy rice vinegar. While you’re roasting your carrots, roast some chickpeas too. They add a nice substantial bite to the mix of fresh, raw veggies in this salad.

I feel healthier just looking at all that kale! Oh, how I’ve missed you, kale salad!

Rainbow Kale Salad with Carrot Ginger Dressing

How to Make A Massaged Kale Salad

The first trick to creating your kale salad is to massage the kale so that the bite-sized leaves become soft and tender. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Place bite-sized kale leaves into a large bowl and drizzle them with lemon juice, ½ teaspoon of olive oil, and a few pinches of salt.
  2. Use your hands to massage the leaves until they become soft and wilted and reduce in the bowl by about half.
  3. That’s it! You’re ready to assemble your kale salad.

Rainbow Kale Salad with Carrot Ginger Dressing

Assembling Your Kale Salad

I like to build kale salads with a variety of flavors and textures, so I add soft dried cranberries, creamy avocado, crunchy roasted chickpeas, crispy pepitas, and fresh grated & sliced vegetables to this kale salad recipe.

Layer everything in (this is your Insta-worthy moment!) then toss and douse it all with the carrot ginger dressing. Serve the salad right away, or pack it up for lunches throughout the week. It can be stored dressed since kale leaves are so sturdy. If you’re packing this for multiple days, I would keep the avocado separate and add it to the salad before you leave for work. See this post for more of my best meal prep tips and this one for more lunch ideas.

Rainbow Kale Salad with Carrot Ginger Dressing

Kale Salad Variations

Kale Salad

If you love this kale salad recipe…

Try my broccoli saladbeet salad, watermelon salad, or Greek salad, or any of these 37 favorite salads next!

For more vegan recipes, check out this post!

Kale Salad with Carrot Ginger Dressing

rate this recipe:
5 from 21 votes
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Total Time: 40 mins
Serves 4
This happy, feel-good kale salad recipe is packed with colorful vegetables, crispy chickpeas, avocado, cranberries, and pepitas. Great for lunch!

Ingredients

Carrot Ginger Dressing (See notes)

  • ½ cup chopped roasted carrots, from 3/4 cup raw carrots
  • 1/3 to ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt

Salad

  • 1 batch Roasted Chickpeas
  • 1 bunch curly kale, stems removed, leaves torn
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small carrot, grated
  • 1 small red beet, grated*
  • ½ watermelon radish, very thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup pepitas, toasted
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • Sea salt & Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Make the dressing and roast the chickpeas: Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the chickpeas with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle with pinches of salt and pepper. Place the carrot pieces for the dressing in their own corner on the baking sheet to roast alongside the chickpeas. Roast for 25 to minutes, or until the chickpeas are browned and crisp and the carrots are soft. Set the roasted chickpeas aside. Transfer the carrots to a blender and add the water, olive oil, rice vinegar, ginger, and salt. Blend the dressing until smooth and chill in the fridge until ready to use.
  • Place the kale leaves into a large bowl and drizzle with the lemon juice, ½ teaspoon of olive oil, and a few pinches of salt. Use your hands to massage the leaves until they become soft and wilted and reduce in the bowl by about half.
  • Add the carrot, beet, watermelon radish, half of the cubed avocado, cranberries, pepitas, a few more good pinches of salt and a few grinds of pepper, and toss. Drizzle generously with the carrot ginger dressing. Top with the remaining avocado, more dressing, the roasted chickpeas and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Season to taste and serve.

Notes

- Make the dressing ahead so it has time to chill in the fridge before adding to the salad.

 

36 comments

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  1. Amber H
    01.14.2019

    Wow, this looks so good! I’ll have to keep an eye out for watermelon radish, it’s so pretty. Does it taste like a red radish?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      01.14.2019

      Hi Amber,
      Yep – it’s similar to a red radish – you could thinly slice 2 red radishes if you can’t find a watermelon radish!

  2. Gaby Dalkin
    01.14.2019

    YESSS! I’m so here for this salad (especially the ginger dressing)!

  3. Karen H
    01.16.2019

    Awesome! I come here specifically for the colorful healthy seasonal delights! I’m going to sub pomegranate for the cranberries because…well… I always have them all over my counter this time of year. Can’t wait, this sounds delish!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      01.22.2019

      I love pomegranates, I think they would be a great sub here!

  4. Erin
    01.17.2019

    5 stars
    Made this last night and it was delicious, filling, and healthy feeling AF. Few modifications: my husband doesn’t like kale (womp womp) so I used spinach. Because of this I didn’t do any massaging, just squeezed some lemon on before adding the dressing. I also didn’t have cranberries and forgot the sesame seeds, but I’m sure it would have been even better with those! Oh, and watermelon radishes–I can never find them so I used a few red ones.
    Yum!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      01.22.2019

      Ha, I love that description. I’m so glad you loved it with the spinach!

  5. Jacqueline B
    01.22.2019

    That looks delicious! Thank you for sharing! I’m going to make it tomorrow!

  6. Ashley
    02.27.2019

    5 stars
    Will definitely make this again! So good.

  7. Kim
    02.28.2019

    This looks amazing! Love the colours, can’t wait to make it.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.01.2019

      Thanks Kim! Let me know if you give it a go!

  8. Georgia
    03.14.2019

    5 stars
    Amazing dressing!!! I wish I could find watermelon radish…😞😞
    The salad was so beautiful and fresh!!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.17.2019

      Hi Georgia, I’m so glad you loved it!

  9. Sonya Campion
    11.06.2019

    Do you cook the beets before shredding?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      11.08.2019

      Nope, I shred them raw. Although roasted beets (sliced, not shredded) would be delicious here too.

  10. Jodi
    12.15.2019

    Are the shredded beets raw?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      12.15.2019

      Yep, they’re raw. Roasted beets, sliced into wedges, would also be delicious in this recipe, but cooking the shreds is not necessary.

  11. Glad
    02.14.2020

    I do not lik Kale. Can I replace it with spinach?

  12. Corie
    02.14.2020

    I made this and it was delicious! The dressing was amazing and cranberries added a subtle sweetness.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.15.2020

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  13. Dawn Snyder
    03.11.2020

    5 stars
    Love this dressing. I used 1/2 lemon olive oil and it was great. I used my kale and quinoa recipe with it, but did incorporate the roasted chick peas.

  14. Claudia
    08.14.2020

    Hi! How long will just the dressing keep in the fridge?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      08.14.2020

      Hi Claudia, I keep it about 5 days.

  15. Kristen
    08.16.2020

    5 stars
    This salad was absolutely delicious! So much flavor, you could omitt the dressing if you want (I wouldn’t though, it’s fabulous!)

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      08.30.2020

      Hi Kristen, I’m so glad you loved it!

  16. Alison
    09.23.2020

    5 stars
    Made this gorgeous salad and dressing combo and devoured it like the glutton I am. So fantastic!!

    I’ve been really working to improve my microbiota, and this salad couldn’t be any better for your ol’ gut. It’s also absolutely delicious. Highly recommended.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      09.24.2020

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  17. Sarah
    11.03.2020

    5 stars
    This was yum! I used spinach instead of kale and edamame beans instead of chickpeas. The dressing is absolutely amazing!

  18. Manatee
    11.18.2020

    5 stars
    Lovely salad, thanks for the recipe!

    As a Dutchy we usually cook our kale; combined with mashed potatoes in a ‘stew'(which has never been my favorite)..

    But raw kale like this, combined with fresh other flavors in a salad, is so much nicer! Googled a recipe as I wasn’t sure what combinations would work, but this turned out great! So healthy and delicious!

    Used a spicy Tr.Joe’s cashew dressing that was nearing it’s use-by date; very tasty.

    Also added some arugula; and randomly used celery instead of radish (which I didn’t happen to have).

    • Vardui
      11.25.2020

      5 stars
      Do you cook the beets before shredding?

      • Jeanine Donofrio
        11.26.2020

        no, in this case, they’re raw.

  19. Beth
    11.28.2020

    This was actually a lot of work. By the time I roasted the chickpeas and carrots, shredded the carrot, beet, and the radish and processed everything for the dressing, I was too beat to broil the salmon, so I only served this salad for dinner. (Just my husband and me). Not to insult the creators of this dish, I felt I was eating a plate of parsley.
    And I love the idea of crunchy, snacky roasted chickpeas, but I was leery to make them again because they turned out dry, as they did last time. They were not yummy as a snack, but they were a fun crunch to the salad. Im sorry, I will not be making this again. I’m really sorry because I was hoping this would be a new vegetarian favorite.

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.