Learn how to make a festive salad for the holidays. Kale Cranberry Pecan and Feta salad is perfect to go alongside turkey, chicken, tri-tip or all on it’s own!
We have so much kale in the garden right now that I am using it in as many ways as I can. I’ve been putting it into smoothies daily for the kids, in soups, in stir-fry dishes, and salads. A kale salad feels like a nutritionally dense powerhouse! One of the perks to growing it ourselves, is I know that this kale is free from pesticides and herbicides. I can feed it to our kiddos with confidence. I have been having this kale, cranberry, pecan, and feta salad for lunch lately.
This salad is the go-to salad in our family…especially around the holidays. The cranberry and pecan combo are so festive for Thanksgiving and Christmas. We even eat it all year around especially when a lot of kale is coming in from the garden. This salad has been my go-to lunch recipe for the past month! There are only a few ingredients that we keep on hand in the freezer. So we are always ready to make an impressive salad to go along with a last-minute dinner for guests. This will be on our Thanksgiving menu this year, just as it has for years past.
Ingredients Needed to make Kale, Cranberry, Pecan, and Feta Salad
- Olive Oil
- Dried Cranberries
- Red Onion
- Crumbled Feta
- Pecan Halves
- Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Salt and Pepper to taste
How to Make Kale, Cranberry, Pecan, and Feta Salad
- Begin my cutting kale into smaller than bite sized pieces. Since Kale is a tougher green it is important to cut it into microgreen size to eat easier.
- After kale is finely cut, place in a large mixing bowl and drizzle with olive oil.
- Massage the kale for a few minutes, to soften.
- Sprinkle the dried cranberries, red onion, crumbled feta, and pecan halves.
- Mix to distribute the toppings evenly.
- When ready to serve, drizzle salad dressing over the salad and toss.
- Put salad into a serving container if bringing to an event or straight onto the plate to eat immediately.
- Season with salt and pepper.
Tips for the Perfect Salad Every time
- Chill dressing-It thickens it up and helps keeps the cold salad cold. Want to take it one step further? Serve salad on chilled plates.
- Rinse kale-Even though we grow organic kale here on our homestead, I still give them a quick rinse most of the time to make sure their is nothing on the leave that I don’t want to eat.
- Spin kale dry in a salad spinner– This is the best way to thoroughly dry kale leaves. If kale leaves are still wet dressing won’t cling to the kale and sort of just puddles at the bottom of the bowl.
- Serve immediately-after you add salad dressing, the dressing starts to wilt the leaves and the salad gets sort of soggy.
Can I make it in Advance?
This salad can almost be made in advance. Basically everything but the tossing the salad dressing can be assembled and tucked away until it time to toss and serve.
What kind of Kale should I Use?
The type of greens you use as the base of this salad is entirely up to you. I am using a mix of:
- Vates Scotch Blue Curled-This variety makes it into our garden every year. Even though we don’t need to take advantage of it’s amazing cold hardiness because we are in Zone9. We like this variety for kale chips, and rosemary potato soup.
- Lacinato (Dinosaur)-This variety we also grow in our garden during every season. We find that it is more resilient to pests compared to the curlier varieties. I like this kale in in soups, salads, and stir-fry especially.
Other types of greens that serve as the “bed” for this salad you could try:
- Baby Kale
- Mixed Greens
- Baby Spinach
- Any variety of leafy lettuces
Any variety of greens that you have on hand will taste amazing with these toppings. Keep in mind, If you are using larger more mature leaves it is important to massage the kale before tossing the rest of the salad.
Why should I “Massage the Kale?”
This recipe directs you to massage the kale after it is cut up. This is only if you are using large kale leaves that are to be eaten raw. Kale is a sturdy green, which is great to cook with because it holds up well in soups and stews. When eating kale raw though, it can be kind of tough if it is not the tender baby kale. If you are using a full-sized kale leaf, it is important to give your kale a quick massage before adding the rest of the ingredients. This will make the greens much more palatable and easier to digest. If you are using baby kale or another, more tender green, this step is not necessary. In fact, massaging greens such as baby kale will make them less appetizing.
How to make this Salad a Main Dish
This salad can be served alongside a main dish or simply turned into one! Adding chicken, turkey, or tri-tip will easily turn this from side to main dish. Especially if it is served with a slice of toasted sourdough bread.
Variations of Kale Cranberry Pecan and Feta Salad
This salad is an easy one to swap out or add new ingredients. Subtract or add ingredients to make it your own! Swap out the pecans for walnuts or slivered almonds. If you don’t have dried cranberries on hand, try using raisins. Instead of feta try crumbled goat cheese. This salad is so simple that it is easy to make substitutions or additions, that best suit you.