This Feta Kale Salad with Cranberries and Pecans is an easy cool-weather salad that you can make in under 30 minutes and vary over and over. Serve your chopped kale salad with cranberries as a side salad for your Thanksgiving turkey or any roast meat, or add hard-boiled eggs or a can of beans, and you have a main course salad.
Read on to learn about massaging kale to tenderize it and all the other tips and tricks to make the best kale salad recipe. Or grab a bowl, hit that Jump to Recipe button, and let’s make a cranberry kale salad!
You should have a few go-to simple salads you make. Just like my rocket and pear salad, there aren’t many ingredients in this feta kale salad or the orange vinaigrette that goes with it.
- Kale – Lacinato kale, also called Dinosaur kale or Tuscan kale, is the best for this recipe as it is the least bitter. Avoid kale with pale or yellow spots or is limp or wilted.
- Feta – Feta provides creaminess and salt to the salad. Feel free to sub in a soft goat cheese if you prefer.
- Cranberries – Dried cranberries, also called craisins, provide a tangy sweetness. Try to buy ones that are low or no sugar. You can also make a cranberry sauce from dried cranberries!
- Pecans – pecans provide crunch. Toasting your pecans in the oven for a few minutes is so easy and makes them sing with nuttiness.
Please see the recipe card below for complete information on ingredients and quantities.
Variations and substitutions
- Sub in another toasted nut like hazelnuts or walnuts.
- Make candied pecans
- Sub in chopped apple or a different dried fruit like apricots or mango.
- Add in roasted beets for a beetroot kale salad.
Recipe tips and tricks
How to cut kale
To slice kale for salads, first slice out the thick stem. Then roll up a leaf or two or five together and slice into thin strips crosswise across the roll of kale leaves. You can chop it further if you like.
Massaging kale to tenderize
Massaging kale is a technique often used in kale salads to improve its texture. Massaging with acid and salt, like in the vinaigrette, can help break down kale’s cell walls, making it more tender.
Put your chopped kale in a bowl with just enough vinaigrette to coat. Use clean hands to squeeze and knead the kale for a minute or two until it starts to feel softer. If you can, let the kale rest for about 30 to 60 minutes before serving to let it continue to soften in the vinaigrette.
Composing the feta kale salad
Add the now-tender kale to a large salad bowl or individual serving bowls. Top with the feta, cranberries, and toasted pecans, with additional vinaigrette on the side.
What to serve with this kale salad
This cranberry kale salad would make a great side dish for Thanksgiving dinner. You could also serve this kale salad with:
You can prepare all of the ingredients ahead of time, including chopping the kale. But don’t compose the salad until right before you want to serve, or the salad might wilt.
You can store your leftover kale salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a day or two, although it is best on the day it is made.
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Feta Kale Salad with Cranberries and Pecans
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon orange juice
- 1 tablespoon white wine or champagne vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
Feta kale salad with cranberries
- 1 bunch kale about 8 to 10 large leaves
- ½ cup toasted pecans coarsely chopped
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup feta cheese crumbled
- Make the dressing for the kale salad by combining the olive oil, orange juice, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper in a clean glass jar and shake to emulsify.1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon orange juice, 1 tablespoon white wine or champagne vinegar, ¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard, ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Wash the kale and trim the kale leaves from the stems. Slice the kale into thin strips and put them in a medium-sized bowl.1 bunch kale
- Toss the kale with enough salad dressing to coat. Then, using clean hands, massage the kale by squeezing and kneading it for a minute or two until it starts to soften. Let rest for 30 to 60 minutes if possible.
- Add the kale to a large salad bowl or distribute it into individual bowls. Top with the chopped pecans, cranberries, and feta, with any remaining orange vinaigrette on the side.½ cup toasted pecans, ⅓ cup dried cranberries, ¼ cup feta cheese
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