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

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.
Cuisine American
Keyword apples, kale, parmesan, walnuts
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 2


  • 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:


  • 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!


  • 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!
  • 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 :)