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Fall Harvest Apple Kale Salad

October 22, 2021
Shanika | Orchids + Sweet Tea
Indulge in the flavors of autumn with this Fall Harvest Apple Kale Salad--A crunchy and wholesome medley brimming with seasonal fall produce. The perfect hearty side dish or lunch!

Fall Harvest Apple Kale Salad

Experience the bountiful flavors of the season with our Fall Harvest Apple Kale Salad recipe-- A vibrant medley of fresh produce. Loaded with crisp pecans, earthy walnuts, hearty kale, tart cranberries, and roasted crisp apples, it's elevated to perfection by a creamy, dairy-free lemon-garlic dressing. Savor this wholesome creation as a satisfying and healthy side dish or a delightful lunch option throughout the season. Entirely dairy-free. Vegan, Gluten-Free, + Make ahead options.

Fall Harvest Apple Kale Salad in a decorative serving bowl

This Fall Harvest Apple Kale Salad Is Simply The Best!

Autumn is undoubtedly the season for comfort food, with dishes like soup, pasta and casseroles taking center stage and filling our days with hearty warmth. Every now and then, I just want something light, crunchy, and refreshing to break through all the richness.

Enter this nourishing Fall Harvest Apple Kale Salad, my trusted choice for a refreshing side, a wholesome lunch, or a light dinner. Bursting with an array of colorful vegetables and pulled together by an ultra-creamy vegan dressing! If you're a lover of salads, then you're sure to love this Chipotle Sweet Potato Chopped Salad,Roasted Cauliflower Green Goddess Salad, Spicy Chicken Caesar Salad with Cornbread Croutons, and Baked Jamaican Jerk Chicken Salad!

If you love salads with a mixture of sweet, savory, and creamy textures and flavors, this recipe is perfect for you! The most amazing part of this Fall kale salad is that it's hearty and dairy-free which makes it perfect for the entire family. Of course, you can mix and match ingredients to meet the need for all of the eaters in your family too!

Jump to:
Seasoned nuts and apple slices on a baking sheet

What is a Fall Harvest Salad?

You'll enjoy all of the Autumn vibes with this Fall Harvest Salad that is so easy to whip together. This salad includes an array of Fall produce like apples, pecans, and of course kale. You can totally add additional Fall heartiness with chunks of sweet potatoes, or pumpkin if you like! It'll leave you full and satisfied for a good amount of time!

Gravy bowl of dairy-free lemon-garlic dressing

How to Make Fall Harvest Apple Kale Salad

This apple + kale salad is easy to throw together and you can easily mix up the ingredients to use whatever you have on hand, but this is the perfect combination if you ask me! You'll start by roasting the apples and nuts to bring out their most concentrated flavor and sweetness. You can also turn this into a chopped salad!

Then whip up the creamy dairy-free dressing and toss everything together in a serving bowl and voila!

Ingredients

Here's what I use to make my favorite kale and apple salad:

  • Apples. I like to use one Honeycrisp and one Gala, but any variety will work.
  • Maple syrup. You can also use honey if you're not vegan.
  • Warming spices. I'm talking about cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. You could add a dash of ginger too, if you like.
  • Nuts. Pecans and walnuts are my favorite pairing with apples, but feel free to use any nut or seed you have on hand.
  • Kale. I use curly kale, but purple or lacinato will also work.
  • Red onion. If you don't like the flavor of raw red onion, you can quickly pickle it or use scallions instead.
  • Dried cranberries. A good swap is dried cherries or diced dates.
  • Pumpkin seeds. These add crunch and healthy fats to the salad.

What is Chopped Salad?

OK, so if this is your first time hearing about chopped salad, then I've got you covered. Basically, the difference between chopped salad and regular salad is that all of the ingredients are chopped and incorporated versus it being layered. It definitely creates the perfect bite that makes a real difference when eating it.

Fall Harvest Apple Kale Salad on a decorative serving bowl

Dairy-Free Lemon-Garlic Salad Dressing

This creamy lemon-garlic dressing ties the salad together. It gives it body, heft, and a silky-smooth texture you'll love.

Here's what you need to make dairy-free dressing:

  • Garlic. I amp up the garlic flavor by using both fresh and dried.
  • Vegan mayonnaise. You can use any brand you like. If you're not vegan, feel free to use regular mayo.
  • Almond milk. feel free to use a different dairy-free milk.
  • Lemon juice. Make sure it's freshly squeezed for the best flavor!
  • Dried parsley. A different herb like basil or oregano will also work.

My other favorite dairy-free dressings

Decorated serving platter

Can I Add More More Ingredients to this Salad?

Definitely! This is a great recipe to mix and match the ingredients/toppings. For added nutrients, fiber, and color, add your favorite veggies + protein.

Here are some additions that would go well in this salad:

  • Beans + legumes (i.e. chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, etc.)
  • Other greens (i.e. spinach, lettuce, mixed greens, arugula, mustard greens, etc.)
  • Shredded chicken, shrimp, steak, and salmon (if you're a meat eater)
  • Tofu, mushrooms, tempeh, etc. (Great meat alternatives)
  • Homemade croutons, baked tortilla, or pita chips
  • Nuts + seeds
  • Roasted veggies (i.e. asparagus, sweet potatoes, zucchini, butternut squash, etc.)
  • Cheese, either dairy or plant-based (feta cheese would be especially nice in this salad)
  • Grains like farro, quinoa, couscous, etc.
  • Boiled or poached eggs
  • Roasted herb tomatoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Candied bacon
Closeup of Fall Harvest Kale Salad

Why + How to Massage Kale

When it comes to massaging kale, it's usually recommended because kale is known for being tough and fibrous, which makes it sometimes hard to chew and digest. However, massaging the kale softens it a great deal and helps the flavors to be more pronounced which works hand in hand with the other ingredients.

My easy method to massage kale is to add the de-stemmed and chopped kale to a large bowl and then drizzling it with 1-2 tsps of lemon juice or Extra virgin olive oil and using your clean hands, rubbing the leaves together gently for about 2-3 minutes. They should look glossy and slightly reduced in volume when massaging is achieved.

What Can Be Used Instead of Kale in this Fall Harvest Salad?

Although, kale is the most common veggie that I love to use as my salad base, you can definitely use other greens such as romaine lettuce, spinach, collard greens, bokchoy, etc. for a nice twist! When it comes to vegetables, there are so many benefits as we all know. While some veggies pack a greater punch when it comes to nutrients, we’ve curated a special list of our Our Top 12 Favorite Healthy Green Leafy Vegetables! Most of these are super popular while others are under utilized in many dishes. Lettuce Eat, Shall We?

Fall Harvest Apple Kale Salad drizzled with dairy-free lemon-garlic dressing

Best Types of Apples for this Salad

Even though this Fall Harvest Salad is based on using Gala or Honeycrisp apples, you can also switch things up and add a slightly new flare in their flavor profile by adding any of the following apples for a bit more sweetness or tart:

  • Granny Smith
  • Fuji
  • Pink Lady
  • Golden Delicious
  • Braeburn
  • and more!

How to Make Chopped Salad with a Food Processor

For greater ease, you can easily make this Fall Harvest salad a chopped salad by chopping your ingredients in a food processor for the perfect bite. I suggest first starting with solely the kale leaves once they are de-stemmed. Add them to your food processor and pulse for a few seconds before they are too minced. Then remove those chopped greens and place them into a bowl and work your way through the other ingredients (all processed separately).

Once all ingredients are chopped, add them together in a bowl and continue recipe.

Fall Harvest Apple Kale Salad drizzled with dairy-free lemon-garlic dressing

What to Eat with this Fall Harvest Apple Kale Salad

You can enjoy this Fall Harvest Apple Kale Salad on its own as a nice lunch or dinner. Of course, you can also enjoy it as a side dish!

If you're offering this salad as a side dish, I personally love it paired with a warming entree like:

For a hearty bite, I also enjoy this apple kale salad with the following:

Closeup of Fall Harvest Kale Salad drizzled with dairy-free lemon-garlic dressing

Common Fall Harvest Apple Kale Salad Q + A's

How to store leftovers?

Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days, depending on the ingredients. Always determine the ingredients in your salad and keep it no longer than the shelf life of your fastest-spoiling ingredient.

Can you make this salad ahead of time?

Absolutely! You can make this salad ahead of time if you like. Store the roasted apples and nuts in separate containers from the dressing and salad. Then, just before serving, toss everything together. This helps keep the greens fresh and the nuts snappy. Store every component in an airtight container for up to two days. Keep the nuts on the counter and everything else in the fridge.

More Delicious Comforting Fall Recipes

Now that you've fallen in love with this Fall Harvest Apple Kale Salad recipe, put to good use your remaining Fall produce with these great family-friendly dinner recipes:

MADE OUR RECIPE(S)?

If you tried this Fall Harvest Apple Kale Salad recipe or any other recipe on my website, please please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how you go in the 📝 comments below. I love hearing from you.

Closeup of Fall Harvest Apple Kale Salad

Fall Harvest Apple Kale Salad

October 22, 2021
5 from 4 votes
Experience the bountiful flavors of the season with our Fall Harvest Apple Kale Salad recipe-- A vibrant medley of fresh produce. Loaded with crisp pecans, earthy walnuts, hearty kale, tart cranberries, and roasted crisp apples, it's elevated to perfection by a creamy, dairy-free lemon-garlic dressing.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 6 servings

Ingredients

SALAD:

  • 1 medium Gala apple
  • 1 medium Honeycrisp apple
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 large bunches curly kale (about 1 lb. each)
  • ½ medium red onion
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup shelled pumpkin seeds, toasted if desired

DAIRY-FREE LEMON-GARLIC DRESSING:

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup vegan mayonnaise
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

TO ROAST APPLES + NUTS:

  • Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Halve, core, and thinly slice 1 medium Gala and 1 medium Honeycrisp apple (no need to peel). Place in a medium bowl. Add ¼ cup maple syrup, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg, and ⅛ teaspoon ground allspice. Stir and toss until the apples are fully coated.
  • Transfer to one half of the baking sheet and arrange into an even layer. Place 1 cup chopped pecans and 1 cup walnuts on the other half of the baking sheet and arrange into an even layer. 
  • Bake until the nuts are browned and fragrant, and the apples are golden and tender but still a bit crisp, 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside to cool while you make the dressing.

TO MAKE DRESSING:

  • Mince 3 garlic cloves and place in a large jar or medium bowl. Add 1 cup vegan mayonnaise, ½ cup unsweetened almond milk, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon dried parsley, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Seal the jar and shake or whisk together until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate until ready to use.

TO MAKE SALAD:

  • Strip the leaves from 2 large bunches kale and discard the stems. Coarsely chop the leaves. Thinly slice ½ medium red onion (scant 1 cup). Place the kale and onion in a large bowl. Add the roasted apples, pecans, walnuts, ½ cup dried cranberries, and ¼ cup pumpkin seeds.
  • Drizzle with the dressing when ready to serve and toss to combine.
  • Bon Appetit!

Tips & Tricks

  • STORAGE: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
  • MAKE AHEAD: The nuts can be toasted and the dressing made up to 2 days ahead. Store the nuts at room temperature and refrigerate the dressing in separate airtight containers. The salad can be tossed up to 30 minutes before serving.
  • GREENS: If preferred, you can always add greens like Romaine lettuce, Arugula, Mustard Greens, Microgreens, Spinach or Collard Greens to this salad for added flavor + texture.

Nutrition

Calories: 623kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 52g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 14g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 0.002g | Sodium: 457mg | Potassium: 505mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 417IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 103mg | Iron: 2mg

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Shanika

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  1. I really love winter salads and this one is so delicious as the apples are roasted too. Such a great flavour, healthy and pretty too!

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