Kale Pomegranate Salad with Goat Cheese (Christmas Salad)

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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!

Christmas kale and pomegranate salad with goat cheese topped with candied nuts.

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.

Christmas kale and pomegranate salad with goat cheese topped with candied nuts. Salad is in a serving bowl with wooden serving spoons.

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.

Christmas kale and pomegranate salad with goat cheese topped with candied nuts. Salad is in a serving bowl.

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!
Christmas kale and pomegranate salad with goat cheese topped with candied nuts. Salad is in a serving bowl with wooden serving spoons.

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!

Storing Leftovers

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

You can always turn this into a meal-sized salad by serving larger portions and adding a lean protein on top. I bet it would be delicious topped with seared salmon or my apple cider vinegar chicken.

More Kale Salad Recipes to Try

Be sure to check out all of my recipes with kale and holiday recipes on EBF!

Kale Pomegranate Salad with Goat Cheese (Christmas Salad)

4 from 15 votes
This kale pomegranate salad (aka Christmas Salad) is super easy to whip up and makes for a festive and healthy option for the holidays.
Christmas kale and pomegranate salad with goat cheese topped with candied nuts in a bowl with wooden serving spoons in it.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 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
  • cup candied walnuts or candied pecans*
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste

Balsamic Dressing

  • cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • fresh or dried herbs, optional

Instructions
 

  • 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.

Notes

  • 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

Serving: 1/6 of recipe (made with 1/2 of the dressing) Calories: 221kcal Carbohydrates: 19g Protein: 7g Fat: 13g Saturated Fat: 4g Cholesterol: 9mg Sodium: 225mg Fiber: 1g Sugar: 10g
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: christmas kale salad, christmas salad, kale pomegranate salad

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

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Recipe Rating




    18 comments
    1. Cathy H
      January 2, 2022 AT 3:50 pm

      5 stars
      My sister in law made this for Christmas. It is sooo good I am making it today!!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        January 3, 2022 AT 10:51 am

        Yay!! Happy to hear this salad has been a hit, Cathy. Thanks so much for the review. I really appreciate it!

    2. Mary Kate
      June 18, 2021 AT 6:18 pm

      5 stars
      This is the best! We make it all year long. If we don’t have pomegranate we use dried cranberries! Definitely a family favorite!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        June 21, 2021 AT 11:45 am

        I love hearing this, Mary Kate! I’m so glad you’re family has been enjoying this salad. Thanks for the review!!

    3. Emily D.
      January 7, 2021 AT 2:57 pm

      5 stars
      This salad is my new absolute favorite. The combination of flavors is perfection. I made this for Christmas dinner and it was loved by everyone! It will definitely be made many years to come (not to mention many times in between). Highly recommend!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        January 7, 2021 AT 4:08 pm

        Ahh yay, that makes me so happy to hear, Emily. Thanks for coming back to leave a review. I so appreciate it. 🙂

    4. Cassandra
      December 25, 2020 AT 1:58 pm

      5 stars
      I made the salad yesterday for Christmas Eve – it was delicious and easy to make! And it looks so festive too!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        December 29, 2020 AT 2:37 am

        Ahh, this makes me so happy to hear! Thanks for the review, Cassandra.

    5. Julia
      January 1, 2020 AT 11:49 am

      5 stars
      Love this salad. Everything about it is wonderful–taste, texture, appearance.I used a creamy feta (not too dry and crumbly).

      1. Brittany Mullins
        January 2, 2020 AT 10:53 pm

        Yay!! So happy to hear this, Julia. Thanks for trying my recipe and for coming back to leave a comment + star rating. I so appreciate it. 🙂

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