This crunchy, nutrition packed kale salad is a perfect spring and summer lunch. It’s delicious and flavorful, yet light and clean. It’s also such a pretty combination of colors and textures, so it makes for a gorgeous presentation. The honey mustard vinaigrette has just the right balance of sweet and tangy, and you can use it as a base recipe and change things up by adding red pepper for more spice, or fresh ginger and a splash of sesame oil for an Asian inspired variation.
Kale is high in Vitamins C, A, and K, as well as lutein, fiber and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. With more iron than beef and more calcium than milk per serving, it’s a nutritional powerhouse for those following a vegetarian diet. I love that it’s filling and low-calorie yet nutritionally dense, making it the perfect salad green for toning up and slimming down before swimsuit season. It can be a bit tedious to wash and shred the vegetables, so I recommend starting this salad several hours before planning to serve it. This will also give the dressing time to tenderize the kale and soften it a bit, since it’s not as delicate as lettuce or spinach.
If you haven’t cooked with kale before, be sure to thoroughly wash each leaf. I soak my kale for 30 minutes in a sink full of ice cold water with a cup of distilled white vinegar. This helps to wash and disinfect the kale, and a lot of the sand and grit that gets trapped in its curly leaves or along its stems will actually sink to the bottom of your kitchen sink and is easily washed away. I pull each leaf out of the sink individually, give it a rinse and inspect the stem and leaves for additional residue, and let them drain in a large colander. To shred the kale, cut the leaf away from the tough stem lengthwise on both sides. Then stack several of the de-stemmed leaves together and shred horizontally. It’s a bit time consuming, so I like to work with several bunches of kale at a time and store them in the fridge to be used in salads, smoothies, and stir-fries the rest of the week.
Right before serving, I top the blend of kale, red cabbage, and carrots with diced avocado and Granny Smith apples, and a sprinkle of crunchy sunflower seeds. The healthy fat in the avocado helps your body to better absorb the lutein in the kale, so it’s a great nutritional and flavor complement. The Hubs likes his with diced hardboiled eggs on top, but you could add any lean protein or veggies of your choice.
Kale, Red Cabbage & Carrot Salad with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
- 1 large bunch curly kale, thoroughly washed, stemmed, and shredded
- 1/2 head red cabbage, cored and shredded
- 2 carrots, peeled and shredded
- 1 avocado
- 1 Granny Smith apple
- 1/2 cup roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds
- 4 hardboiled eggs (optional)
for the vinaigrette:
- 2 teaspoons dry mustard
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbs rice wine vinegar
- the juice of 2 lemons
- 2 tbs raw honey
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup water
Prepare the vinaigrette. Mince the garlic and whisk together all vinaigrette ingredients in a bowl. (You can also use an immersion blender or food processor for this step and just throw the garlic cloves in whole.) Store vinaigrette in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use.
In a very large bowl or serving dish, add the shredded kale, cabbage, and carrots. Drizzle the vinaigrette on top and toss to combine. (I prefer to do this step several hours ahead of time or even the night before to allow the dressing to meld with the veggies and soften the kale – just cover the bowl with saran wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.)
Just before serving, dice the apple into 1 inch pieces. Peel, core and dice the avocado into bite size pieces. Dice peeled hard boiled eggs, if using. Divide kale mixture among 4 serving bowls. Top each salad with 1/4 of the apple, avocado, and egg, if using. Sprinkle each bowl equally with sunflower seeds, and season with additional freshly ground black pepper to taste.