This happy, feel-good kale salad recipe is packed with colorful vegetables, crispy chickpeas, avocado, cranberries, and pepitas. Great for lunch!
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.
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!
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:
- 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.
- Use your hands to massage the leaves until they become soft and wilted and reduce in the bowl by about half.
- That’s it! You’re ready to assemble your kale salad.
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.
Kale Salad Variations
- Add a sprinkle of feta cheese for a salty, tangy bite.
- I use raw beet in this recipe, but a few sliced roasted beets would be delicious instead.
- If you’re not a fan of chickpeas, try adding baked tempeh, tofu, or lentils for protein.
- Bulk up the salad by mixing in a grain like quinoa or farro.
- Switch up your dressing – turmeric tahini sauce, cashew cream, or scoops of pesto would be yummy alternatives to the carrot ginger dressing.
If you love this kale salad recipe…
Try my broccoli salad, beet 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
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
- 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
- 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.
Hi. I made the Ginger Carrot dressing but substituted 1/2 orange juice for the water. I put it in my Vitamix and blended it like I would a smoothie. For some reason, the dressing had a bitter aftertaste. Would you have an idea of why that would have occured? I had to add honey to make it sweeter but there was still a bit of a bitter aftertaste. Thanks for your help
I’m about to make this, but just wondering if it will keep ok in the fridge overnight for a couple of work lunch boxes tomorrow??
also, I made your brocoli salad yesterday. omg yum!! and have some tamari almond pepita mixture left over. Can I use this instead of plain pepitas in this salad or would it taste funky do you think?
Hi Alison, yes! This salad keeps well for a few days in the fridge. I think the tamari almonds and pepitas would be amazing here!
What’s a good substitution for watermelon radish? Thanks!
Hi Michelle, any other type of radish is a great sub. Red radishes, daikon, etc!
Any suggestions for replacing rice vinegar. I can’t have anything with yeast do no non-distilled vinegars no soy no wine
I’d suggest going with a different dressing. We love this lemon vinaigrette on this salad!
this is a favorite recipe of mine and I made a triple batch for my family’s thanksgiving this year! It was the perfect compliment to a starchy, heavy meal. Also super easy to prep in advance—i make all the elements and then toss together when it’s time to serve.
Hi Katharine, I’m so glad you’ve loved this one so much!
This was a show stopper at tonight’s thanksgiving dinner. Truly a (great) restaurant quality salad.
Tip: if you find that your dressing starts to taste a little bit bitter/carrot-y (as mine did as I blended and added more oil). You can balance it out beautifully by adding a little bit of maple syrup.
In fact, when I make this in the future I’m almost definitely going to add a little bit of maple syrup. It contrasted the flavors perfectly.
I’m so glad it was a hit at Thanksgiving!
This was SO SO good! A great way to use all the kale I’m getting in my CSA…will definitely be making this again! Thank you!
Hi Lisa, I’m so glad you loved it!
Can you use white wine vinegar instead of rice wine vinegar?
Hi Maya, I think it would be fine, I’d start with less since rice vinegar is more mild.
I have made this salad twice and I love it, but for some reason I can’t get the dressing creamy. No matter how long I blend it it is still lumpy. This time I roasted the carrots longer to make sure they were soft but that didn’t seem to make a difference.
Hi Marcia, oh no, I think it might depend on your blender. If you’re making a lot of these types of creamy vegan recipes a vitamix is a terrific investment.
Puree all ingredients except oil. While still running in the blender slowly pour the olive oil in, this will aid in the emulsification of the dressing for a creamier texture.
Loved the flavours very delish
Such a beautiful salad. Thank you very much for the instructions on how to make the kale softer. This really added to the recipe.
I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
Hello, is the beet cooked or raw?
Hi Denise, it’s raw here.
How long does it take for the kale to wilt enough?
Hi Andrea, just a few minutes.
Made this salad for Christmas lunch and it was a huge hit. Didn’t have rice vinegar and substituted apple cider vinegar. Added some more liquid to the dressing and coated the baked chickpeas in curry powder. It was all a perfect combination of flavours and a great way to use kale. Will definitely be checking out more of your recipes!!! Thank you
Hi Carolyn, I’m so glad the salad was a hit!
That’s it! I trust Love & Lemons with my life.
Ha, I’m glad you loved the recipe!