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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.