Here’s a delicious way to get more veggies on the table and change up your usual salad – a kale salad featuring roast beets and cauliflower florets, chopped fennel and crunchy toasted pumpkin seeds. Add a little feta cheese if you like dairy and finish with a tangy vinaigrette. Definitely a big dose of veggies, plus it’s packed with color, taste, texture and healthy nutrition.
Kale Salad with Roasted Vegetables
Kale salad with roasted vegetables has multiple elements but they can all be done ahead of time. For a heartier main dish salad, add roasted or rotisserie chicken. Use leftovers from another meal or buy an already cooked bird at the store to save time.
If raw kale leaves are a bit too crunchy for you, place the ribbons in a medium bowl and give it a gentle massage for a minute with a little of the vinaigrette. The massage softens the kale.
How To Prep Kale for Kale Salad
Skip the bagged kale and buy fresh leafy bundles. The bagged version might be convenient but it still has the tough center rib. Invest a few minutes and chop your own. The salad will be better. I buy Lacinato kale, also called Dinosaur or Tuscan kale. It has big dark green flat leaves (versus curly) and comes in bundles. Be sure to buy organic kale. It’s on the Dirty Dozen Plus list.
To stem the kale, hold the bottom of the stem in one hand, clasp your other hand around the leaf at the bottom and run your clasped hand up the stem. The leafy part should separate easily. If not, cut out any stubborn ribs with a knife. Pile kale leaves together and chop crosswise into thin ribbons.
Save Your Produce – Use Eat Cleaner
Before you work with any produce it should be washed. Not with just water. Water is not a cleaning agent. Just like you can’t clean clothes in the washer with just water, your produce needs a bath too. For years I’ve been using Eat Cleaner.
With a patented blend of plant-based ingredients, Eat Cleaner® is a terrific line of all natural, biodegradable produce wash. It’s lab proven to remove over 99% more pesticides, wax and residue than plain water. But the even bigger thing is Eat Cleaner helps extend the shelf life of fresh produce up to 200% longer. That not only saves money, it save you time too. Prep your produce on Sunday for the busy week ahead, knowing it will last longer in the fridge and not go bad.
For clean kale ribbons, I strip and chop them first, then wash with Eat Cleaner and spin dry in a salad spinner. You can wash and bag them ahead of time to use for this kale salad with roasted vegetables or a warm kale salad with cranberries and walnuts.
The Rest of the Veggies and Pumpkin Seeds
- Roasting beets – Do this at first (or ahead). Read this post on how to roast beets. It’s easy. Cut off tops, wrap in heavy foil, drizzle with oil. Roast at 400°F until tender. Rub off skin. Dice.
- Short cut – buy pre-cooked beets at the store. Look in the refrigerated produce case.
- Slicing fennel – Use a mandoline or inexpensive handheld slicer to shave or thinly slice fennel. Cut the tops off, cut out the triangular core, then starting at the bottom of the bulb, slice. Save the fluffy fronds for garnish.
- Roasting cauliflower – Core the head and break off large florets. Cut florets crosswise into wedges about 1/2″ thick. Place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment or foil. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and granulated garlic. Roast at 400° for approximately 15-18 minutes, until golden with browned edges. Then try not to eat it all before you make the salad. Make extra!
- Toasting pumpkin seeds – Scatter 1/2 cup seeds on a rimmed baking sheet at bake at 350° for 15-18 minutes until you can smell them. Shake the pan half way through. Be careful they don’t burn.
Dressing and Finish
Feta cheese works nice in this salad if you enjoy dairy. My favorite is Redwood Hill Farms Raw Goat Feta. It has a marvelous tang, taste and texture (omit for vegan or dairy-free diners). Sub in diced avocado, or add avocado anyway. What isn’t better with avocado?
For dressing, use extra virgin olive oil and a light vinegar or citrus juice whisked together with a pinch of salt and pepper. A citrusy vinegar works really nice too
Fancy Fruit Vinegars
I love to buy unusual, artisan vinegars for making vinaigrettes and dressings. For this salad I use Calamansi vinegar., made by Vom Fass in Germany. Calamansi is a citrus from the Philippines. It has a bright, bold, citrusy, flavor and it smells like 7-Up.
Look for a Vom Fass store near you or buy online. Their fruit vinegars are incredible. Not cheap, but truly like nothing else you’ve ever had. I have many flavors in my pantry including date, apple, raspberry, blueberry, and cranberry. Treat yourself and try some.
This post was originally published January 2014 and updated October 2016.
Kale Salad with Roasted Vegetables
Here’s a delicious way to get more veggies on the table and change-up your usual salad – a kale salad featuring roast beets and cauliflower florets, chopped fennel and crunchy toasted pumpkin seeds. Add a little feta cheese if you like dairy and finish with a tangy vinaigrette. This serves 2 as an entree salad or 4 as a side salad.
- 2-3 tablespoons raw pumpkin seeds pepitas
- 1 head cauliflower or use bagged florets as a shortcut
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 large bundle of Lacinato kale aka Tuscan kale
- 1 fennel bulb
- 2 medium roasted beets store bought or homemade
- 4-6 ounces feta cheese optional
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or a citrus vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Pre-heat oven to 350° (177 C). Scatter pumpkin seeds on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for approximately 15 minutes, until you can smell them and they are lightly browned. Watch so they do not burn. While they are toasting, work on your vegetables.
- Turn oven up to 400° after the pumpkin seeds are done (or start a second oven at the same time). Cut the core from cauliflower head. Break off florets and cut them into 1/2″ thick wedges. Place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment or foil. Drizzle olive oil over florets and sprinkle with garlic, salt, and pepper. Roast cauliflower until golden brown at the edges, about 18-20 minutes.
- For kale, strip out center stem with hands or trim out with a knife. Slice leaves crosswise into thin ribbons.
Trim top stalks off of fennel. Save some of the fluffy fronds for garnish if desired. Thinly slice fennel bulb with a sharp knife, mandolin, or handheld slicer.
- Dice the roasted beets. Dice or crumble the feta.
- Whisk together the oil and vinegar until emulsified. Sprinkle in salt and pepper to taste. Toss kale greens with a few teaspoons until lightly coated and place on plates or a platter. Add vegetables, pumpkin seeds, and cheese. Add extra vinaigrette over top.
If you don't enjoy dairy, use avocado in place of the cheese.