Rainbow Kale Salad with Carrot Ginger Dressing

This happy, feel-good kale salad 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 cauliflower 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 salad 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 kale 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. Roasted carrots get blended with ginger and tangy rice vinegar. While you have the oven on, roast the chickpeas. They add a nice substantial bite to go along with all of the fresh, raw veggies in this salad.

Rainbow Kale Salad with Carrot Ginger Dressing

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

Rainbow Kale Salad with Carrot Ginger Dressing

The first trick to creating your kale salad is to massage the kale so that the bite-sized leaves wilt down by about half.

The second is to incorporate a lot of contrasting textures. I went with a combination of soft dried cranberries, creamy avocado, crunchy roasted chickpeas, and crispy pepitas in addition to the fresh grated & sliced vegetables.

Rainbow Kale Salad with Carrot Ginger Dressing

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.

Rainbow Kale Salad with Carrot Ginger Dressing

If you have extra carrot-ginger dressing, save about 1/4 cup of it to use as a dipping sauce for the recipe that I have coming up on Wednesday.

4.5 from 4 reviews
Rainbow Kale Salad with Carrot Ginger Dressing
Cook time
Total time
This happy, feel-good kale salad is packed with colorful vegetables, crispy chickpeas, avocado, cranberries, and pepitas. Great for lunch!
Serves: 4
Carrot Ginger Dressing (See notes)
  • ½ cup roasted carrots (from about ¾ cup raw carrots)
  • ⅓ to ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
Roasted Chickpeas
  • 1½ cups cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 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
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
- Make the dressing ahead so it has time to chill in the fridge before adding to the salad.

- Reserve about ¼ cup of the dressing to use as a dipping sauce for Wednesday’s recipe.



Reply to Karen H: Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this recipe (after making it):  

  1. Amber H

    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

      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

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

  3. Karen H

    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

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

  4. Erin

    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.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

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

  5. Jacqueline B

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

  6. Ashley

    Will definitely make this again! So good.

  7. Kim

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

    • Jeanine Donofrio

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

  8. Georgia

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

    • Jeanine Donofrio

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

  9. Scott S

    It has potential and was very easy to make, but the the dressing didn’t have the kick to offset the strength of the beet and radish. Wondered if a short pickling would help. Will try again. Like others, no watermelon radish; substituted red radish.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Scott, I think a quick pickle would be great. You could also try letting the (paper thin) slices sit in the dressing a little longer to absorb it or add a little more lemon for kick.

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.