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Full of healthy texture and flavor, this nutrient-dense Kale Salad is enhanced with creamy buttermilk dressing, tamed red onions, and an addicting crunchy quinoa salad topper.
This healthy Kale Salad has such a lovely chewy and crunchy texture that combines perfectly with the creamy buttermilk dressing. It requires a few steps but the best part is that all the elements can be made ahead of time.
The quinoa salad topper is going to enhance so many dishes, it adds that perfect crispy crunch, and will store for up to a month! You will have plenty extra to sprinkle on soups, bowls and whatever you fancy!
The buttermilk dressing benefits from being chilled, whip it up a few days ahead of time. You can chop the kale, wash it and store in the fridge for a few days. A perfect salad for making ahead and throwing together in just a few minutes!
Packed with nutrients, this kale salad holds up well in the fridge for a couple of days, making it a great packable lunch option.
Tips For A Delicious Kale Salad
- Cut out the ribs or stems and save them to throw into a soup or stir fry.
- Chop the kale and then wash. Cutting the kale can release bitter compounds; washing it after it is cut can rinse away the bitterness that can impact the salad’s flavor.
- Massage kale with oil, lemon, and salt for a few minutes. Massaging tenderizes the kale and helps the dressing adhere more evenly. You can do this with your hands or place the kale in a bag, roll it with a rolling pin, and turn it over periodically.
Table of Contents
Ingredients In Kale Salad
Lacinato Kale– this is our favorite for raw kale salads. If you use a different kale- massage longer for mature kale, less for baby leaves.
Red Onions– we show you how to take the pungent bite out of these by soaking in a baking soda and water solution. This is optional! If you like your onions full potency, totally go for the raw slices!
Buttermilk dressing– this can be made even a couple of days ahead. We like adding it to the salad after chilling when it is thick and extra creamy.
Salad Topper– okay, yes this is an extra step, but you won’t be sorry! You can make a batch anytime and have it on hand for extra crunchy goodness on so many things. It really heightens this salad.
See the recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and measurements.
How To Make Kale Salad
Start with the Crunchy Quinoa Salad Topper
After the seeds completely cool, mix with the crispy quinoa and store in an airtight container up to a month.
Soaking red onion slices in water and baking soda neutralizes the acidity and lessens the pungent bitter bite. After soaking rinse onion slices really well with water to clean off the baking soda residue.
You can leave the onion as is or just soak in water if desired.
Massage with your hands to work the liquids and salt into the leaves, for a few minutes or more if you want it really tender.
Massaging makes the kale softer, easier to chew and more digestible.
Lacinato kale is known to be more tender. If you use a different kale massage longer for mature kale, less for baby leaves.
Assemble: Drizzle in about 1/2 of the dressing over the kale, taste and adjust salt and pepper. Add more dressing (we like it saucy, but make it to your preference!).
Layer on onions and fresh dill.
Top with 1/2 cup or more of crunchy quinoa salad topper. Or if saving some of the salad for later, just add the crunchies to each serving individually.
Kale Salad FAQS
Chop kale first and then rinse under cool water.
Massaging kale with olive oil also gets some of the harsher flavors of kale out.
Kale is packed with more nutrients and a lot more fiber. High in vitamins c and k, potassium and calcium.
Up to 3 or 4 days without dressing. About 2 days with dressing.
Soak raw slices in water and baking soda to really take the pungent bitterness out. This neutralizes the acid making them more alkaline and mild.
What To Serve with Kale Salad
Kale salad can be served on its own or as a side to what you are already serving. To add a protein and make it a “meal”, consider adding fish, chicken or tofu! We like:
- Mediterranean Chicken
- This Grilled Chicken
- Simple Baked Chicken
- This Greek Salmon ( forgo the bowls)
- This Blackened Salmon ( forgo the sandwich)
- Salmon with Braised French Lentils
- Baked Tofu (with 3 Marinades)
- Crispy Tofu
More Recipes You May Enjoy
Love this recipe? Please let us know in the comments and leave a 5-star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating below the recipe card.Print
Kale Salad Recipe
- Prep Time: 40
- Cook Time: 30
- Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
- Yield: 6 1x
- Category: salad
- Method: tossed
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegetarian
Full of healthy texture and flavor, this nutrient-dense Kale Salad with creamy buttermilk dressing and tamed red onions is sprinkled with an addicting crunchy salad topper.
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons mayo (or greek yogurt)
- 1 tablespoon dijon (or whole-grain mustard)
- 1/4–1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Tamed Red Onions
- 1/2 small red onion, sliced in thin rounds
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 10–12 ounces lacinato kale, destem and cut into 1-2 inch pieces
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup fresh dill, loosely packed
Crunchy Quinoa Topper
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1/4 cup hempseeds
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon tamari or braggs (optional)
Dressing: Whisk together buttermilk, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, mayo, mustard, salt and pepper. Chill this while you make the rest of the salad. Or better yet make a day or two ahead.
Red Onions: Place water and baking soda in a bowl with the thinly sliced red onion rings and soak for 15 minutes. (This will neutralize and remove the pungent bitter bite.) Rinse onion slices really well with water to clean off the baking soda residue.
Kale: In a salad serving bowl, combine kale with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Massage with your hands to work the liquids and salt into the leaves, about 5 minutes or more if you want it really tender. (Lacinato kale is known to be more tender. If you use a different kale massage longer for mature kale, less for baby leaves.)
Crunchy Quinoa Topper: Toss cooked quinoa (thoroughly cooled- see notes) with olive oil and salt. Spread onto two sheet pans in thin layers. Bake at 350F for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
In a bowl, mix together sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, hempseeds, sesame seeds with 1 tablespoon tamari or Braggs. Spread onto a sheet pan and bake for 10 minutes or until desired toastiness. After the seeds completely cool, mix with the crispy quinoa and store in an airtight container up to a month.
Assemble: Drizzle in about 1/2 of the dressing over the kale, taste and adjust salt, pepper and add more dressing (we like it saucy, but make it to your preference!). Layer on onions and dill. Top with 1/2 cup or more of quinoa crunchies.
Reserve the crunchy quinoa topper for sprinkling on when serving immediately.
- Use a mandolin for thin evenly cut onion slices. Soaking red onion slices in water and baking soda neutralizes the acidity and lessens the pungent bitter bite. After soaking rinse onion slices really well with water to clean off the baking soda residue. You can leave the onion as is or just soak in water if desired!
- Make the dressing a few ahead and refrigerate ( keeps 5 days).
- Make the Quinoa Salad Crunchies ahead (keeps 3 weeks in a sealed container).
- Serving Size: 1 cup without salad topper
- Calories: 158
- Sugar: 3.8 g
- Sodium: 339.7 mg
- Fat: 10.3 g
- Saturated Fat: 1.5 g
- Carbohydrates: 9.9 g
- Fiber: 2.4 g
- Protein: 9 g
- Cholesterol: 3.2 mg
Keywords: Creamy kale salad, kale salad, kale salad recipe, kale salad buttermilk dressing, kale salad creamy dressing
Loved this, especially the crunchy addition. I had a little too much kale so, whilst the oven was on, I threw in the extra kale after tossing in a little oil and salt and pepper and made some crispy kale chips. I used these on top of the salad…. Delicious!
Love that Kim! Lots of good textures going on!
I have eaten this salad for the past 3 days and I have to say it gets better with time. The kale relaxes and absorbs the luscious dressing. I really like that you can make all the components ahead, makes it so easy to put together! So good!!
Awesome Fern! Glad you have enjoyed it!
Love this salad. Relatively simple but so delicious. Specially the crunchy salad topping. It’s going in our regular rotation.
Great to hear Amy, so glad you liked it!