Cranberry Kale salad is a deliciously festive dish with tart cranberries, crisp kale, and sweet pears. It is topped with fresh gorgonzola and cardamom spiced almonds then drizzled with a homemade cranberry vinaigrette. It is the perfect marriage of flavors and a great addition to any party or get together. Simple enough to make for lunch but also beautiful for a more formal meal.
Cranberry Kale Salad is my newest obsession, though I’ve been enjoying kale salads almost daily for a year now. I feel like kale is one of those love/hate things: either you LOVE it, or you HATE it. Which camp are you in?
I used to be very much on the latter side until I discovered some benefits. And, of course, this beautiful Cranberry Kale Salad has definitely won me over.
Here are some of the reasons I love a good kale salad:
- There’s a reason kale is known as a superfood. Just 1 cup of chopped kale is packed with 2x the amount of vitamin A you need in a day, almost 3 grams protein, over 100% vitamin C, a whopping 684% Vitamin K, and a long list of other nutrients. All for a measly 34 calories.
- Kale is sturdy and doesn’t wilt easily as other leafy greens do. That means you can make your salad ahead of time without worrying about a soggy salad. I chop a few bunches of kale on Monday, store them in an airtight container in the fridge, and they stay crisp and lovely all week long.
- Despite what you might have heard, kale has a great flavor if you pair it with the right ingredients. Because of its robust flavor, it does well paired with a tangy dressing such as a vinaigrette, or a sweet one like poppyseed. Below you’ll find my favorite winter pairing, Cranberry Vinaigrette.
Of course, kale isn’t just for salads! We also love to saute it and serve with scrambled eggs, or toss some in a hearty Kale and Quinoa Chili.
If you’re new to kale, here are a few tips:
- Always removes the ribs (or stalk). These are too crunchy and tough for salads. You can chop them into small pieces and save for a stir fry, or just toss them. I simply grab the bottom of the rib with one hand, then close my other hand around it and slide it up the stalk until I’ve removed all the leaves. Super easy! You can also slice the leaves off on both sides of the rib with a knife.
- Massage your kale. Yep, you heard me. How much you massage the kale is up to you and depends on how crisp you want your end product to be. I prefer to have a nice crisp salad, so I rub the leaves between my fingers briefly while rinsing them and that’s good for me. Here’s a helpful article outlining the (easy) steps for massaged kale.
- Chop kale into small, thin pieces. Kale is a heartier leafy green and no one wants to manage a huge mouthful.
- When you’re ready to add the dressing, pour it over your salad and work it in so that it’s evenly distributed over all the leaves. You can do this several hours before and the kale won’t get soggy. If you are adding ingredients that might get soggy (such as a soft cheese), add those just before serving.
Cranberry Kale Salad blends all the perfect flavors and textures. Cardamom spiced almonds are the perfect touch, don’t be tempted to leave them off. If you haven’t used cardamom yet, it’s a very unique spice that pairs well with winter flavors (think gingerbread, cranberry, orange).
The almonds are so easy to make and we also like to serve them with Coconut Rice. They’re a big hit whenever we serve them to friends or family!
The cranberry Vinaigrette is the icing on the cake, so to speak. It’s a much healthier alternative to other salad dressing and has a perfectly sweet and tangy flavor.
Of course, if you’re in a pinch you can substitute a poppyseed dressing (we like Brianna’s, you can find it in most grocery stores) or other vinaigrette of choice.
If you love salads like I do, then I think you’ll also enjoy this Strawberry Goat Cheese Salad.
FOR THE SALAD
- 1 bunch kale (about 6 leaves or 8 cups)
- 3/4 cup dried, sweetened cranberries
- 1-2 Pears, sliced or diced
- 1 cup cardamom spiced almonds see notes (or toasted almonds)
- 1/3 cup Gorgonzola or feta cheese (can omit if you're vegan)
FOR THE VINAIGRETTE
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup neutral tasting oil such as avocado oil
- 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup fresh cranberries
- 1 Tablespoon honey, more or less to taste
- salt and pepper to taste
FOR THE SALAD
- Wash kale and dry well.
- Holding onto the stem with one hand, grab the stem tightly with your other hand and slide it upward to remove the leaves from the stem. You can also use a knife to remove the stem.
- Gently massage the kale leaves (see notes) and chop into small bite-sized pieces.
- Arrange kale, dried cranberries, pears, cardamom spiced almonds, and cheese (optional) in a large serving bowl or platter. Drizzle with cranberry vinaigrette or another dressing just before serving.
FOR THE CRANBERRY VINAIGRETTE
Pulse cranberries, honey, and balsamic vinegar in blender until smooth. Add oils and pulse just until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Refrigerate (covered) until ready to serve (up to 24 hours but best fresh)
How much you massage the kale is up to you and depends on how crisp you want your end product to be. I prefer to have a nice crisp salad, so I rub the leaves between my fingers briefly while rinsing them and that's good for me. If you're going for a softer, more tender salad that is similar to the texture of spinach, rinse, dry, and chop the leaves, sprinkle with salt, then scrunch them in your hands, release, and repeat about 30 seconds until the leaves are a darker green.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 338Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 19gCholesterol: 10mgSodium: 192mgCarbohydrates: 28gFiber: 8gSugar: 11gProtein: 5g