Feta Kale Salad with Cranberries and Pecans

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!

salad bowl with shredded kale, cranberries, pecans, and feta.
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Ingredients

feta, kale, cranberries, pecans, orange and other ingredients on a countertop.

 

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.

Do you love kale? Check out this kale frittata, kale and cheese quickbread, kale waffles, or throw some kale in this garbanzo bean soup.

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.

four panels showing slicing out the stem, rolling, cutting, and chopping kale.

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:

Recipe FAQs

Can I make this kale salad ahead of time?

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.

How should I store leftovers of this chopped kale salad?

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.

What other salad dressings could I serve with this kale salad?

You’ll want a slightly sweet dressing to balance the kale, so this Maple Dijon dressing or even this cherry vinaigrette would work well.

Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-heart 💜💜💜💜💜 rating in the recipe card below. Let me know how much you loved it, or any problems you had, in the comments section further down.

Recipe

Feta Kale Salad with Cranberries and Pecans

5 from 1 vote
Category: Salad
Cuisine: Unspecified
Diet: Vegetarian
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 187kcal
This Feta Kale Salad with Cranberries and Pecans is an easy cool-weather salad that you can make and vary over and over 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 kale salad.
Print Recipe

Ingredients

Orange vinaigrette

  • 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
  • cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup feta cheese crumbled

Instructions

  • 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

Notes

This recipe makes about four side servings of feta kale salad or two main course salads if you add a protein like roast chicken, boiled eggs, or beans.
Lacinto kale (also known as dinosaur kale or Tuscan kale) is more tender than other varietals and is best for kale salads.
The easiest way to chop kale is to trim the thick stems, roll the kale into a log, and slice crosswise into thin strips. Please see the text and photo in the main post for additional information.
The easiest way to toast pecans is to cook them in a 350 to 400 degree oven for about five minutes until they smell, well, nutty. You can also toast nuts on the stovetop.
The resting time for the kale is optional to help it continue to soften.

Nutrition

Calories: 187kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 8mg | Sodium: 274mg | Potassium: 187mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 3303IU | Vitamin C: 33mg | Calcium: 140mg | Iron: 1mg
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