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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.

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 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! 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!

Ingredients Needed

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

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

Recipe Modifications & Ingredient Swaps

  1. For a nut-free version, you can swap walnuts with pumpkin seeds (pepitas), or omit completely.
  2. If you’d prefer, you can try this with another nut like pecans or almonds in place of walnuts.
  3. 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 🙂
  4. 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!
Overhead photo of small bowls of ingredients on a wood cutting board.

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:

  • hard-boiled eggs
  • a side of baked salmon
  • grilled chicken
  • canned or roasted chickpeas
  • sautéed garlic shrimp
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.

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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5 from 3 votes
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Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch curly green kale (or 2 smaller bunches)
  • 1 large apple (I used honeycrisp)
  • 1/2 cup parmesan, freshly grated (ideally parmigiano reggiano)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, raw

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 🙂

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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Pinterest graphic for a kale apple salad with parmesan and walnuts recipe.
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