Kale Salad

Kale Salad with Apple, Goat Cheese, Dried Cranberries, Pecans, Pumpkin Seeds and Tahini Lemon Vinaigrette

A tale of two kales: It all started one day at Borough Market. I hadn’t made kale salad for a while since curly kale, the type I used most often in the US, doesn’t seem to be as abundant here. However, I had noticed this green called “cavolo nero” EVERYWHERE! I had a familiar feeling each time I saw it… like, do I know you 🤔 but there was something strange and foreign about it -starting with the name. That day, I took a leap of faith and bought a bunch.

The plot thickens 🔎…My friend bought a bunch that day too. The person at the produce stand (@elseyandbent_boroughmkt) told her it was “black cabbage”. Finally, I remembered there’s something called the internet 🤪 and googled cavolo nero only to find out it’s Lacinato kale which I had bought before in the US 🤦‍♀️! The last thing I learned about this mysterious yet familiar green is that “cavolo nero” is Italian. The English translation is BLACK CABBAGE. (If only I had taken Italian not French, this could have been much less confusing!)

I’ve never mentioned this, and I’m not sure any of you want to hear about it 😴-So I’ll QUICKLY say that there are lots of differences like this between British and American nomenclatures. To name a few, arugula is called rocket, scallions are salad onions, eggplant is aubergine, a ½ bath is called a cloakroom, and a stove is a hob!! You’d think that I’d just learn the British name and move on, but for some reason it still throws me. 

ANYWAY, I was very happy to have rediscovered Lacinato kale and can now make all my recipes that contain kale 🎉. There are many other types of kale as well, so if you don’t initially see it, ask someone. It might be right in front of your eyes but masquerading under a different name 👀! 

*Kale is in season now. It’s a hearty green with thick, chewy leaves -perfect for this winter salad which also has pecans, pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, goat cheese, apples (these are @pinkladyappleuk which I discovered randomly but they’ve been 👌), and tahini lemon vinaigrette.

I hope you enjoyed this kale tale 😄. 

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Kale Salad

  • Author: Emily
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20-30 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Easy
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian


This incredibly delicious salad is a snap to put together and makes a fabulous winter meal! It uses the same tahini lemon dressing as my beet and orange salad, so be sure to make a double batch of that vinaigrette! An important step that you should not skip is “massaging the kale”.  My friends all think this sounds so odd, but it softens the leaves, and I think it takes away some of the bitterness.



Tahini Lemon Vinaigrette

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 ½ tablespoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoons lemon zest (optional but yummy – if you are adding zest, do it before you add the juice since juiced lemons are hard to zest)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons tablespoon maple syrup or honey
  • 1 tablespoon water or more (if too thick)


  • 400 grams kale, thick stems removed and torn into bite-size pieces (any type of kale is fine)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 medium apples*, cored and sliced or chopped
  • ¼ cup (40 grams) dried cranberries, roughly chopped 
  • ½ cup (60 grams) pecans, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup (60 grams) pumpkin seeds (I usually use the maple toasted pumpkin seeds – recipe below – but if you’re feeling lazy, just use plain -preferably toasted)
  • 4 oz goat cheese, crumbled

*I randomly discovered pink lady apples 🍎, which I found not only beautiful looking but also super crunchy and sweet at a time when apples might be past their prime.


Maple Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

  • 80 grams (a rounded ½ cup) pumpkin seeds 
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • A large pinch of salt


Tahini Lemon Vinaigrette

I almost never buy salad dressing because I find that it usually contains lots of preservatives, so I almost always make double batches of my vinaigrettes. It saves time and effort the next time I go to make a salad. I recommend that you do the same and make a double batch! It’ll last at least a week in the fridge.

  • Combine all ingredients in a container with a tight-fitting lid. Place the lid on tightly, and shake vigorously until ingredients are well combined. The vinaigrette will get quite thick, so add water a tablespoon at a time until you reach a consistency you like. I usually use about 1 tablespoon or 2 to get to the right consistency.


Maple Toasted Pumpkin Seeds (I’m obsessed with these!!)

This recipe is from Ottolenghi. In his book it’s a topping for a soup, but I actually love these in salads, on top of yogurt or ice cream, or even just to munch on. What’s leftover, you can store in an airtight container on the counter for a few weeks, but I’m sure you’ll find tons of other uses for them and they will not last that long! As with the salad dressing, I recommend making a double batch! 

  • Preheat oven to 375F/190C
  • Mix all ingredients together and toast in the oven on a parchment lined baking pan for 16 minutes. If you remember, give the pan a ½ turn (180 degrees) after 8 minutes, and then allow the seeds to toast for the remaining 8 minutes.

Assemble the Salad

Massage the kale (do not skip this step!): Place the kale in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and ¼ teaspoon of salt. With clean hands, gently massage the oil into the leaves for about about a minute or 2 or until the kale feels softer and more pliable. 

Toss the salad: there are 2 main ways to assemble this salad.

  1. Add the apple, dried cranberries, pecans, pumpkin seeds, and most of the salad dressing to the bowl with the kale and toss everything together. Taste for dressing, add more if needed, toss again and, add the goat cheese and gently toss again. 
  2. Toss just the kale with the vinaigrette and add all the other ingredients on top. 

Tip: You just want to make sure that everything is tossed in the vinaigrette before you add the goat cheese since it can become total mush. If you forget this tip, just go gentle on your tossing! Or the worst case scenario is that you end up with tahini lemon goat cheese vinaigrette 😄 -which I’m sure still tastes delicious 😋! 

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