This hearty, filling, and nutritious Chopped Kale Salad with Tahini Dressing will beat out all other kale salads you’ve ever had. Yes, it’s that good.
Chopped Kale Salad Recipe
During quarantine, many chefs took to uploading videos on their YouTube channel or Instagram to share their everyday cooking with us. Among my absolute favourite was J Kenji Lopez-Alt. Like I didn’t love him enough before, his quarantine videos became the highlight of my daily isolating life. His videos are minimally edited, super informative, and delightfully quirky teaching us so many fascinating tricks like grating chorizo with a cheese grater – mind blown. Perhaps my favourite recipe he shared was this chopped kale salad that I haven’t stopped making since.
- Chopped Kale Salad Recipe
- Ingredients & Notes
- Tips To Make The Best Kale Salad
- Make The Chopped Kale Salad With Tahini Dressing
- Make Ahead
- What To Serve With Chopped Kale Salad
- More Delicious Salads To Try!
Chopped salads are nothing new but this one seemed so healthy, nourishing, and most importantly filling that I became slightly obsessed with it. He serves it with a creamy ranch dressing but I switch it up a bit with a tahini based dressing that is creamy, really healthy, and addictively delicious, too.
The best thing about this salad is that even completely dressed, it keeps well in the fridge for days. To make the salad even heftier, I add red cabbage and shaved Brussels sprouts. This takes it into slaw territory which is more than fine by me. Make the largest amount possible and you will have the most satisfying, delicious lunches all week long.
Ingredients & Notes
The creamy dressing for this salad is so good I could drink it like a smoothie. You can even use it as a dip for raw veggies – yum!
For the Salad:
- Kale – Lacinato kale, also known as black kale, Tuscan kale, or Dinosaur kale, is my favourite to use here because it’s a little softer and less bitter than the curly variety. But any kale will work.
- Brussels sprouts – If you haven’t had a salad that includes shaved Brussels sprouts, you are in for a treat. The shaved sprouts soften with the dressing but retain most of their crunch. So good.
- Red cabbage – The red cabbage gives the salad some lovely colour and a slaw vibe that I love. You can use green cabbage, if you prefer.
- Chickpeas – Adding protein to salads will keep you full and satisfied much longer, plus chickpeas in any salad are so delicious.
- Red onion – For great punchy flavour. You can use shallots or green onions, if you prefer.
- English cucumber – Cooling and delicious, the cucumber will stay fresher and crunchier if you remove the seeds.
- Bell pepper – I use a red bell pepper but any colour, or a mix will work.
- Pepitas – Toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas) are delicious in this chopped kale salad. You can use toasted walnuts, almonds, or sun flower seeds, if you prefer.
For the creamy dressing:
- Tahini – A runny tahini is best here. If your tahini isn’t runny, you may want to use a blender to blend the dressing more easily.
- Yogurt – I use full-fat yogurt but you can use low-fat if you prefer. Mayo will also work.
- Garlic – Two garlic cloves sounds like a lot but this salad really benefits from bold flavours.
- Lemon zest and juice – Most of the acid for the dressing comes from the lemon juice.
- Apple cider vinegar – Just a small amount to add a bit more acid.
- Maple syrup or honey – A bit of sweetener is necessary to balance all the favours.
- Extra virgin olive oil – Makes the dressing creamier and more delicious.
- Salt and Pepper – The kale is massaged with salt (more on that below) so don’t season the dressing with too much salt. I like to go heavy on the pepper but add as much or as little as you like.
Tips To Make The Best Kale Salad
Whenever someone tells me they don’t like kale I can’t help but wonder if they are preparing it right. We all know kale is full of nutrients, high in fibre, and overall really good for us. But if you have never enjoyed a kale salad, it could be it just wasn’t prepared properly. Make this salad using these few tricks and I can almost guarantee you will start to love kale.
1. Remove the ribs.
All kale varieties have tough ribs that you don’t want in your salad. Use a knife or your hands to remove the leaves from the ribs.
2. Thinly slice the kale.
When cutting the kale, make narrow strips, almost chiffonade-style. This makes it much easier to dress, and much easier to eat.
3. Massage the kale.
This is perhaps the most important step for a fabulous kale salad. Sometimes I think everyone knows this trick but I come across so many people that have never heard of it. Kale leaves can be tough and unpleasant if left unmanaged. To break the kale down, sprinkle with a little salt and drizzle with olive oil. Use clean hands to scrunch fistfuls of the chopped leaves over and over until the kale softens and looks dark green. You can’t really overdo it, but this should only take a minute or less. Some folks will have you massaging kale with vinegar or lemon juice but watery liquids do not work as well.
Once the kale is massaged, it will be much more pleasing to the palate and it will also absorb the dressing a lot better.
4. Use a strong dressing
A strong and flavourful dressing takes the raw edge off of the kale. It doesn’t have to be creamy but make sure it has good amount of acid (lemon juice is brilliant with kale) and other punchy ingredients like garlic, onions, and dijon mustard. Also, don’t skimp on the dressing. It may seem like a lot of dressing but that’s what makes this salad so craveable.
5. Toss, toss, toss
Once dressed, makes sure you toss the salad for a lot longer than you would a regular salad. This way, the dressing has a chance to really coat and marinate all the leaves. If possible, it is best to toss the salad and let it sit for a few minutes before tossing again.
Make The Chopped Kale Salad With Tahini Dressing
I agree, this salad requires a bit more chopping and slicing than most. But I promise, this salad will not disappoint and will reward your hard work for days. A food processor, if you own one, makes shredding the Brussels sprouts and cabbage a breeze. Otherwise, use the sharpest knife you own and go for it.
- Place the kale in a large bowl and add 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Massage the kale with your hands by grabbing fistfuls at a time and squeezing the kale gently but assertively until it starts to feel softer and turn darker in colour.
- Shred the Brussels sprouts and cabbage: Cut the bottom end off of the Brussels sprouts and remove any wilted outer leaves. Use a sharp knife to thinly slice the Brussels sprouts and the cabbage. Alternatively, you can slice the Brussels sprouts and cabbage in a food processor which makes the job a lot faster and easier. Add the shredded Brussels sprouts and cabbage to the kale bowl along with the chopped pepper, cucumber, chickpeas, and red onions.
- In a medium bowl, or 2 to 4-cup liquid measuring cup, stir together all the dressing ingredients. Alternatively, you can place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
- Pour half of the dressing over the salad, then use your hands, or tongs, to toss everything really well. Sprinkle in the pepitas, if using, and pour in another bit of dressing. Lightly toss again. Taste and drizzle with remaining dressing and a little more salt, if needed (I almost always add all of the dressing). Allow it to rest for 10 minutes, if possible, toss once more and serve.
As mentioned, this chopped kale salad with tahini dressing is great to make ahead because it will not wilt or get watery, even after being dressed. That said, if you are making it for a special event (highly recommend to add to your Easter brunch or dinner menu!) you can assemble it up to 2 or 3 days ahead and toss with the dressing just before serving.
I rarely deviate from making this chopped kale salad as written. But occasionally I will add cubes of feta or cheddar cheese which I don’t have to tell you makes it even more insanely delicious. During the winter months, I sometimes add roasted cubes of butternut squash or sweet potato, so good!
With asparagus season around the corner, I plan to add asparagus spears that have been grilled or blanched. And if I want to turn it into an even heartier salad still, I add a few handfuls of cooked farro, chicken, or wild rice.
What To Serve With Chopped Kale Salad
This chopped kale salad with tahini dressing happily makes a meal on its own but it is also fabulous alongside roasted or grilled chicken, any fish, or a vegetarian dish like this crustless quiche.
More Delicious Salads To Try!
Kale Chopped Salad with Tahini Dressing
- 1 large or two small bunches Lacinato (or curly) kale ribs removed and finely sliced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
- 1/2 pound Brussels sprouts
- 1/4 pound red cabbage
- 2 medium red peppers diced
- 1 medium red onion finely diced
- 1 English cucumber seeds scooped out and diced
- 1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup toasted pepitas or walnuts, almonds, or sunflower seeds
Creamy Tahini Dressing
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 1/4 cup plain, full-fat yogurt or use mayo
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1 lemon zested and juiced
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic grated or minced
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup or honey
- 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Place the kale in a very large bowl and add 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt. Massage the kale with your hands by grabbing fistfuls at a time and squeezing the kale gently but assertively until it starts to feel softer and turn darker in colour.
- Shred the Brussels sprouts and cabbage: Cut the bottom end off of the Brussels sprouts and remove any wilted outer leaves. Use a sharp knife to thinly slice the Brussels sprouts and the cabbage. Alternatively, you can shred the Brussels sprouts and cabbage in a food processor which makes the job a lot faster and easier.
- Add the shredded Brussels sprouts and cabbage to the kale bowl along with the chopped pepper, cucumber, red onions and chickpeas.
- In a medium bowl, or in a 2 to 4-cup liquid measuring cup, whisk together all the dressing ingredients until smooth and well combined. Alternatively, you can place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
- Pour half of the dressing over the salad, then use your hands, or tongs, to toss everything really well. Sprinkle in the toasted pepitas, if using, and pour in another bit of dressing. Lightly toss again. Taste and drizzle with remaining dressing and a little more salt, if needed (I almost always add all of the dressing). Allow it to rest for 10 minutes, if possible, toss once more, and serve.