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This massaged kale apple salad recipe brings together apples, parmesan, walnuts, and a simple lemon dressing. Only 7 ingredients, this kale salad recipe is quick, easy, and beyond delicious. It’s the perfect combination of sweet + juicy, savoury, and crunchy!

Overhead photo of a kale apple salad with walnuts and parmesan in a serving dish.

This kale apple salad recipe was unintentionally created whilst cleaning out the fridge before a recent trip of mine. Isn’t it funny how those “use what’s in the fridge” meals sometime turn out the best?

I absolutely LOVE the refreshing combination of the lemon vinaigrette dressing and juicy apples here. Freshly grated parmesan adds a savoury touch, which also pairs beautifully with the apple’s sweetness. It’s a healthy dinner salad recipe that comes together so quickly!

And if you haven’t discovered the wonders of massaging kale – you are in for a treat. I use this method in so many of my nutritious kale recipes! It makes the kale really soft and tender, with each bite covered in dressing. I promise it helps to convert a lot of kale sceptics, too 😉

As a dietitian, I’m happy to share that this salad packs in a ton of nutrition benefits (highlighted below). I hope you enjoy it 🙂

Want more delicious, hearty salad recipe inspiration? Check out my roundup of 15+ easy, healthy fall and winter salad recipes for more ideas!

Overhead photo of small bowls of ingredients on a wood cutting board.

Ingredients Needed

All you need to make this kale apple salad recipe are 7 simple ingredients:

  1. Kale: I used curly green kale, but you are welcome to use lacinato (dinosaur) kale or even red kale. Simply look for kale that has fresh, sturdy leaves versus ones that look like they’re starting to wilt.
  2. Apple: I used honeycrisp, which is my personal favourite. It’s soo sweet, juicy, and has an incredible crunch. That said, you are welcome to use any variety that you love!
  3. Olive oil: As olive oil is used in the dressing, aim for a high-quality one so that it lends a lovely flavour.
  4. Garlic powder: Garlic powder is used in the salad dressing as well. I love the way it integrates into dressings in a smooth way, but you are welcome to use freshly minced garlic cloves if preferred.
  5. Lemon juice: I love using freshly squeezed lemon juice versus the packaged one! This will be a main component of the salad dressing. The vitamin C content will also help to slow the browning of the apples.
  6. Parmesan: I always recommend using freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano, if possible. It’s admittedly more expensive than the pre-grated kind, but the difference in flavour is profound. A little goes a long way! If you’re a Costco member, they sell large blocks of it at a better price per unit (that’s where I always purchase mine :)).
  7. Raw walnuts: Use unsalted, raw walnuts here if possible. If you’d prefer, you can try this with another nut like pecans or almonds.

Full ingredient measurements and detailed instructions are located in the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post!

Dietary Modifications

  1. For a nut-free version, you can swap walnuts with pumpkin seeds (pepitas), or omit completely.
  2. For a vegan or dairy-free version, simply swap the parmesan with a vegan alternative or omit it completely. You could try using some nutritional yeast instead, although it will change the flavour profile slightly! I always love nutritional yeast on salads though 🙂
  3. If you feel like it, you could add dried cranberries or raisins to this recipe. Their sweet taste and chewy texture would pair well with everything in this recipe!

Step-By-Step: How To Make Kale Apple Salad

Overhead photo of kale leaves torn off their stems on a wood cutting board.

Remove the kale leaves from the tough stems. I like to do this by holding the stem in one hand and then gliding my other hand up the middle to remove all the leaves in one fell swoop!

Overhead photo of torn kale leaves in a salad spinner.

Using your hands, tear the kale into smaller, bite-sized pieces. Place them in a salad spinner and wash and dry well.

Straight on photo of a jar of olive oil, lemon, and garlic dressing shaken together.

In a small jar, mix olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper. Cover jar with a lid and shake dressing ingredients together.

Pouring lemon dressing over kale.

Place the cleaned and dried kale into a large salad or mixing bowl. Pour the dressing overtop.

Overhead photo of a hand massaging kale leaves in a bowl.

Massage the dressing into the kale using clean hands. You really want to squeeze/knead the dressing into the kale for about 1 minute (see recipe video if needed). The kale should be well-coated and start to soften.

Overhead photo of massaged kale in a bowl.

Let the kale sit in the fridge or at room temperature while you prepare the rest of the ingredients (i.e. chop the apple, walnuts, and grate the parmesan).

Chopped apples added to kale salad.

Add the chopped apple chunks to the salad.

Walnuts added to kale salad.

Next, add the walnuts. You can leave them in halves or chop them smaller if desired.

Freshly grated parmesan added to kale salad.

Then, add the freshly grated parmesan (I always use parmigiano-reggiano as it has the most delicious flavour!)

Tossing kale apple salad together.

Toss everything together well, seasoning with additional salt + pepper (if needed). Serve and enjoy!

Best Type Of Kale For Salads

While this is of course a personal preference, my go-to types of kale for salad recipes are either curly green kale or lacinato/dinosaur kale.

While their flavour profiles are similar, I find that lacinato kale is a little bit heartier and more dense. Honestly, I love them both though and regularly switch between the two. Feel free to use either variety for this recipe!

How Do You Massage Kale?

Curious to learn what “massaging” kale really means? You’re in luck – I’ve got an in-depth post ALL about how to massage kale. It’s one of my favourite ways to prepare kale for salads, including this one 🙂

Can Kale Salad Be Made In Advance?

Yes! Kale salads hold up really well when made in advance. Their leaves don’t go limp; rather they start to absorb even more of the flavour.

If making in advance, I would recommend adding the apple just before serving in order to prevent browning.

That said, leftovers do keep quite well for a day or two – the lemon in the dressing helps to slow the browning process in the apples!

What To Serve This Salad With

While you can totally enjoy this salad on its own, feel free to serve it with an extra protein source for a more filling meal. Some ideas:

Overhead photo of kale salad ingredients in a large white bowl.

Kale Nutrition Benefits

Just one cup of kale provides over 100% of your daily needs for:

  • vitamin A (206%)
  • vitamin K (684%)
  • vitamin C (134%)

Kale is also a good source of other micronutrients like:

  • manganese
  • magnesium
  • potassium
  • calcium
  • copper
  • vitamin B6

That same cup provides 2 grams of dietary fibre, helping to keep your gut and heart happy. In addition to micronutrients, kale is also loaded with antioxidants, which prevent cellular damage and provide a multitude of health benefits.

Love kale? Check out my roundup of delicious kale recipes for more ways to enjoy it!

Apple Nutrition Benefits

Apples are a great source of dietary fibre. One medium-sized, unpeeled apple contains almost 5 grams of fibre, or 17% of your daily fibre needs.

Apples are also good sources of micronutrients like vitamin C and potassium.

As well, they’re rich in various plant compounds that act as antioxidants, helping to prevent cellular damage.

Overhead photo of a kale apple salad with walnuts and parmesan in a serving dish.

More Kale Salad Recipes

Did you give this Kale Apple Salad With Parmesan & Walnuts Recipe a try? Let me know by leaving a comment and recipe rating below!

If you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram or Pinterest – seeing your creations always makes my day. You can also subscribe to my email list to never miss a new recipe or nutrition education post!

Get the Recipe: Simple Kale Apple Walnut Salad

This massaged kale apple salad recipe brings together apples, parmesan, and walnuts for a nourishing, simple, and dietitian-approved meal. Enjoy this kale salad on its own as a main dish, or as a side salad.
Overhead photo of a kale apple salad with walnuts and parmesan in a serving dish.
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Ingredients

Salad Dressing:

Instructions

  • Remove the kale leaves from the tough stems. Wash and dry well. Using your hands, tear kale into smaller pieces. Place the kale into a large mixing bowl.
  • In a small jar, mix olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper. Cover jar with a lid and shake dressing ingredients together.
  • Pour dressing over kale and massage with hands, really squeezing/kneading the dressing into the kale for about 1 minute (see recipe video if needed). The kale should be well-coated and start to soften. Let the kale sit in the fridge or at room temperature while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  • Core the apple and chop into smaller chunks. Grate the parmesan cheese. Add both ingredients to the kale salad along with walnuts.
  • Toss everything together well, seasoning with additional salt + pepper (if needed). Serve and enjoy!

Notes

*MAKING IN ADVANCE/LEFTOVERS:
  • Kale salads hold up really well when made in advance. Their leaves don’t go limp; rather they start to absorb even more of the flavour! You can safely prep the kale up to a day in advance.
  • I would recommend chopping and adding the apple just before serving in order to prevent browning.
  • That said, leftovers do keep quite well for a day or two – the lemon in the dressing helps to slow the browning process in the apples. Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge!
 
*RECIPE MODIFICATIONS:
  • For a nut-free version, you can swap walnuts with pumpkin seeds (pepitas), or omit completely.
  • If you’d prefer, you can try this with another nut like pecans or almonds in place of walnuts.
  • For a vegan version, simply swap the parmesan with a vegan alternative or omit it completely. You could try using some nutritional yeast instead, although it will change the flavour profile slightly! I always love nutritional yeast on salads though 🙂

Nutrition

As a dietitian, I create recipes with whole food ingredients that provide the nutrients needed for optimal health. My nutrition philosophy does not focus on numbers; however, I understand that this information can be helpful.

Do note that the nutrition info provided is an estimate and I cannot guarantee correctness of the displayed values. These numbers will differ depending on brands used, recipe modifications, and amount eaten. If you require specific nutrition information due to medical reasons, please consult with your dietitian or physician.

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know by leaving a recipe rating below, or by tagging @walderwellness on Instagram. I love seeing your beautiful creations!

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