This crisp and delicious lemon kale salad recipe is topped with warm chickpeas, a perfect seasoning blend, and a delicious yet incredibly simple dressing. It comes together quickly and easily and is the perfect side dish or light main. No massaging required, here’s how to make it!
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Not much is needed for this super delicious kale chickpea salad. Here’s my favorite combination of ingredients–see below for more easy kale salad recipe ideas!
- The kale: This salad works best with curly kale, however, it’s delicious with any variety you have. Tuscan kale (i.e. lacinato kale) is another great option. As far as flavor goes: curly kale is a bit peppery, while Tuscan kale is slightly sweet. Baby kale is the mildest in flavor and a great way to introduce this green if you’re reluctant.
- The beans: Here’s my secret to the best kale salad: instead of massaging (no thank you!) or making sauteed kale, toast your chickpeas in a bit more oil than you normally would until they start to crisp and pop. They’ll be nice and hot, so now’s the time to pour them over your fresh bed of greens, softening the kale just enough to dig on in!
- The cheese: crumbled feta is the perfect flavor compilment.
Kale Salad Dressing
This kale salad dressing is the most simple salad dressing in my recipe box: olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and smoked paprika, that’s it!
Kale Salad Variations
As with any salad, this kale salad recipe is easy to tweak to your liking or to work with what you have in your pantry. Here are some other ways to make easy kale salad recipes:
- Add more veggies: such as cherry tomatoes, fennel, radish, etc.
- Top with something sweet: like dried cranberries, or even fresh blueberries.
- Tweak the dressing to suit your cravings.
- Add protein! Which I do often to turn this into a complete meal. Shredded chicken is great here for a kale chicken salad, as is pan seared salmon for a salmon salad. We love making shrimp salad with kale as well.
- Save some carbs: by substituting the beans for nuts. You’ll still want to heat your oil and drizzle it over the kale; unlike spinach or arugula salad, the texture of kale is improved by softening.
How to Make Kale Salad
Super easy to throw together, here’s everything you need to know about making this kale chickpea salad recipe:
- Saute the chickpeas in a pan–I strongly recommend using a fry screen for this, as the hot chickpeas will pop and splatter oil.
- Add the salt, paprika, and garlic to the hot pan.
- Place kale in a heat safe bowl.
- Once chickpeas have changed color and started to crisp, pour them and the hot oil over the kale. Allow that to sit for a minute or two, then give it a toss.
- Add everything else, mix, and enjoy!
Storing Your Salad
One of the best things about this lemon kale salad is that these hearty leaves store well in the fridge without becoming soggy. I store leftovers in a large resealable bag and eat within 2-3 days.
- Can you eat raw kale as a salad? Absolutely! That said, raw kale can be a bit bitter and fibrous, which is why so many people make massaged kale salad or use a method similar to this, where you pour something warm over the top to soften and mellow out its flavor.
- How do you get the bitterness out of kale salad? Kale is primarily bitter in the stems and thickest part of the leaves, which is why I recommend removing the stems from your lemon kale salad and chopping the leaves. The best way to lessen any bitter flavor is to incorporate an acid into your kale salad dressing, such as lemon juice or vinegar.
- Do you need to massage kale for salad? No, you don’t need to massage kale for salads–massaging is a technique used to soften the leaves and make them more palatable. That said, pouring warm oil over the green (as I do below!), is another great method, that still keeps your kale slightly crisp. You can also use baby kale.
More Salad Recipes
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- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 – 15 oz can chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 large bunch of kale stems removed + cut into bite sized pieces
- 1/4 cup red onion chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup feta crumbled
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, and prep a splatter screen.
- Make sure your chickpeas are super dry (to avoid splatter), and add them to the warm oil. Place a splatter screen over your pan immediately. Cook and stir frequently until they crisp and most of the chickpeas have popped, about 4-6 minutes.
- Add the garlic, salt, smoked paprika, and cumin to the oil and saute for another minute, until the garlic becomes fragrant.
- Add kale to a large heat safe bowl, and pour the sauteed chickpeas and any additional oil on top. Allow it to sit and soften the leaves for a minute or two.
- Add the red onions, lemon juice, and crumbled feta. Toss to coat, and enjoy!