Kale Pomegranate Salad with Goat Cheese (Christmas Salad)
Published Dec 08, 2018, Updated Nov 12, 2021
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This kale pomegranate salad (aka Christmas Salad) is super easy to whip up and makes for a festive and healthy option for the holidays.
If you didn’t think I was enjoying salads throughout the holidays, do you even know me?! I stick by my salad every day method year-round and while I do occasionally go a day without a full blown salad, eating lots of veggies is always top of mind!
This Christmas salad is the perfect addition to your holiday meal. It’s festive, tasty and ridiculously simple to make… you really can’t go wrong!
Types of Kale
Let’s start with the kale basics because there are several varieties of kale and in my opinion, they all have subtle taste differences! While some farmer’s markets might have a large selection of different kale varieties, I’m going to focus on the two most common types you’re likely to find at your local grocery store:
Curly kale – This type of kale is the traditional kale that you probably picture in your head. It’s hearty and rigid and looks curly! It comes in red and green versions, which are pretty much the same besides the color. Curly kale is versatile and works great for raw or lightly cooked dishes, but also holds up well in cooked dishes. I used curly kale for this massaged kale salad, but it’s in a variety of other EBF recipes including kale and cabbage salad, garlicky kale salad, sweet potato kale frittata, lentil stew with kale and this slow cooker sausage kale soup.
Lacinto kale – Also known as Dinosaur kale, Black kale or Tuscan Kale. This type of kale is a very dark green and more tender than curly kale. It’s great for uncooked or lightly cooked dishes. I use it in quite a few recipes you’ll find here on EBF including many of my salads: kale detox salad, shredded kale and brussels sprout salad and this kale salad with roasted butternut squash.
Benefits of Kale
Leafy green veggies are the most nutrient-rich foods on Earth and kale is no exception. Kale is low in calories and packed with nutrients! It is really high in vitamin A, C and K as well as a good plant-based source of calcium. It’s a wonderful ingredient to add to you diet and there are so many ways to do so. Salads are great, but I’m also a big fan of adding it to things like frittatas, soups and casseroles.
Prepping & Massaging Kale
I will be honest, kale can be a hard green to introduce to family members but if you prepare it right, everyone will LOVE it. For this salad, I massage the kale with a dressing, which helps breaks down the tough leaves and helps add a delicious flavor to the salad.
The first step when working with kale is to remove the stem which is thick and tough. I like to fold the leaf in half, holding the stem, and rip the leaves away from the stem. Once the stems are removed, simply chop your kale into bite-sized pieces. Then it’s massage time!
But don’t toss the kale stems! You can save them for another use – you can blanch them, blend them into a smoothie (try my green lemonade smoothie) or make pesto.
Candied Nuts = Next Level Salad
Want to take this salad to the next level? Add in some candied walnuts or pecans. They’re so simple to make on your own – I have a recipe for rosemary candied pecans, but of course you can always use store-bought. Usually I steer clear of adding candied nuts to my salads because I’m mindful of my sugar intake and candied nuts have quite a bit of added sugar, but I’m using them for this recipe because it’s meant to be a holiday salad. Of course, you can always make this salad with toasted nuts instead of candied nuts and it will still be just as tasty – but have less sugar.
Ingredients in This Christmas Salad
- kale – in this recipe you can use either Curly kale or Lacinto kale! Massaging the kale in the dressing helps break down tough leaves and amps up the flavor.
- goat cheese – mild in flavor, provides a nice creamy texture to this salad.
- pomegranate seeds – you can buy a whole pomegranate and remove the seeds (called arils) yourself or you can just buy a package of arils at the grocery store. You should be able to find both in the produce section!
- candied walnuts – or candied pecans. Adds a festive and sweet touch to this salad. You can definitely just toast some walnuts or pecans if you want to keep the sugar content lower. I used Diamond glazed walnuts and they were a hit with the fam!
- olive oil – the base of the salad dressing! Salad dressings are definitely the time to use a nicer quality olive oil, as you’ll really be able to taste it. You can also use avocado oil if you prefer.
- balsamic vinegar – the other base of this salad dressing.
- maple syrup – my favorite natural sweetener, it provides just a touch of sweetness to balance out the acidity of this dressing.
- dijon mustard – emulsifier for the dressing.
- garlic – you can mince a clove of garlic or buy pre-minced garlic to save some time.
- sea salt and pepper – to season the salad.
- fresh or dried herbs – totally optional, but they add such a burst of flavor to this salad. You can use whatever you have on hand, thyme, rosemary, oregano… anything!
How to Make This Christmas Salad
Prepare salad dressing: First you’ll want to make the dressing – this is something you can do up to 3 days early to prep for holiday cooking! Just add all of the ingredients (olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, maple syrup, dijon mustard, sea salt and fresh herbs if you’re using) into a blender and blend until combined. You can also just add the ingredients to a mason jar, make sure the lid is on tight and shake to combine.
Prep salad: Next, you’ll want to build your salad. If you haven’t already, rinse and dry your kale, remove the stems and chop the leaves. In a large mixing bowl, combine chopped kale with about 1/2 the dressing and use your hands to massage the dressing into the kale. If needed, add more dressing to massage the kale. Next, add most of the pomegranate seeds and goat cheese to the mixing bowl, toss together and season with sea salt and pepper to taste. Add more dressing if desired.
Serve: Transfer the salad to a serving bowl, sprinkle with candied nuts and reserved pomegranate seeds and goat cheese. Enjoy!
Any leftover salad can be stored in an airtight container for 1-2 days. The dressing will begin to wilt the kale but it will still be okay to eat.
Turn This Christmas Salad Into A Meal-Sized Salad
More Kale Salad Recipes to Try
- Mexican Street Corn Kale Salad
- Massaged Kale Salad
- Kale & Cabbage Pad Thai Salad
- Sweet Potato Kale and Quinoa Salad
- Kale Salad with Peanut Dressing
Kale Pomegranate Salad with Goat Cheese (Christmas Salad)
- 2 bunches of kale, rinsed and dried, ribs and stems removed, leaves thinly sliced
- 4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
- 1 cup pomegranate seeds, about 1 large pomegranate
- ⅓ cup candied walnuts or candied pecans*
- sea salt and pepper, to taste
- Add all dressing ingredients into a blender and blend until combined or add all ingredients to a mason jar and shake to combine. Dressing can be made up to 3 days in advance. Make it and store in the fridge until ready to prep the full salad.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine kale with about ½ of the dressing and use your hands to massage the dressing into the kale. Add more dressing as needed (you may not need all of it). Reserve any leftover dressing for another use.
- Add pomegranate seeds and goat cheese to the salad bowl (saving a little of each for topping), toss together and season with sea salt and pepper to taste. Add more dressing if needed. Transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle with candied nuts, additional pomegranate seeds and goat cheese.
- Feel free to make your own candied walnuts/pecans or use store-bought. You can also just use toasted nuts if want to cut back on the amount of sugar.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.