Every now and then, I just want something light, crunchy and refreshing to break through all the richness. This healthy kale salad is my go-to for a fresh side dish, healthy lunch or light dinner. It’s full of colorful vegetables, but gets pulled together by a creamy vegan dressing.
If you love salads with a mixture of sweet, savory and creamy textures and flavors, this recipe is perfect for you!
How to Make Fall Harvest Apple Kale Salad
This salad is easy to throw together. 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.
Then whip up the creamy dairy-free dressing and toss everything together in g a serving bowl.
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.
Dairy-Free Lemon-Garlic Salad Dressing
This creamy and vegan salad 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.
Veganmayonnaise. 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.
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.
Can I Swap Any Ingredients?
Sure! It’s easy to make this salad your own. Here are some simple ingredients swaps and additions to try:
Use pears instead of apples
Swap out the cranberries for a different dried fruit
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 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, and 1/8 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, 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon dried parsley, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 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 1/2 medium red onion (scant 1 cup). Place the kale and onion in a large bowl. Add the roasted apples, pecans, walnuts, 1/2 cup dried cranberries, and 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds.
Drizzle with the dressing when ready to serve and toss to combine.
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.