Kale Caprese Salad is a delicious kale salad side dish massaged with a simple balsamic dressing. It’s an easy side salad for a healthy weeknight dinner, and works great for meal prep, too!
I’ve always been all about simple recipes but ever since I had my second child (three months ago today!), easy meals packed with flavor and nutrition have been essential. Bonus if the meals can hold up to a little meal prep, too!
And this kale caprese salad works well for both. It makes a simple side dish that we can pair with leftovers or a quick grilled protein for a quick and easy weeknight dinner. AND any extras double as meal prep. Winner winner, kale salad dinner!
How to Make Kale Caprese Salad
Let’s talk how to make this kale caprese salad:
Make the Balsamic Dressing
In the base of your salad bowl you’ll add the balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper, and dried basil. Give it a quick whisk, then you’re ready for kale.
Massage the Kale
Choose whatever kale works for you.. Lacinato or dinosaur kale works beautifully in this salad, but my store often does not carry it. So you can use curly leaf kale or even a bag of pre-chopped kale.
If using pre-chopped kale, tear out any stems and rip or cut larger pieces into bite-sized pieces.
Then massage your kale. Pour the balsamic dressing over the kale salad and thoroughly rub the kale leaves with the dressing (obviously make sure your hands are clean!).
Massaging your kale may sound weird, but it helps the kale become softer, more tender, less chewy, and I swear makes it taste better!
I used grape tomatoes sliced in half, but you could also use cherry tomatoes sliced in half or quartered. Only have larger tomato varieties on hand? Use those! Whatever you have, you can make work. 🙂 Just slice larger tomatoes into one-inch cubes or wedges.
Add Fresh Mozzarella
While you can use shredded mozzarella if that’s all you’ve got, I highly recommend fresh mozzarella in this recipe. It has a much softer texture, subtle taste, and nutritionally is actually naturally a bit lower in sodium! But it’s a classic caprese pairing and makes this kale caprese so much better.
Try using fresh mozzarella pearls, ovalini, marinated mozzarella pearls, or fresh mozzarella logs cut into bite-sized pieces.
Every Kale Caprese Needs Basil!
Julienne (or thinly slice) a handful of fresh basil leaves and sprinkle them generously over the kale caprese salad.
While you can use dried basil seasoning if that’s all you’ve got, I do recommend fresh basil in this recipe!
How to Make This Caprese Kale Salad a Balanced Meal
This salad is primarily fat and non-starchy vegetables. So to make it a balanced meal, you’ll want to add protein and likely a carb.
For a protein, try adding something like rotisserie or grilled chicken, salmon, tilapia, jarred tuna fillets in olive oil, lentils, cannellini beans, chickpeas, or crispy tofu. Baked Bruschetta Chicken would be a delicious pairing!
How to Meal Prep Caprese Salad with Kale
Keep the meal prep components separated to keep them fresher. Try keeping the dressing and kale base in one container and the topping in a separate container or compartment.
If you’re prepping the salad more than a day in advance, I would take it one step further and portion out the mozzarella balls separately as well. This will help keep them fresher and avoid any weird residues or textures from the cut tomatoes and mozzarella hanging out together too long. (I love using these 3 compartment glass meal prep containers.)
More Tasty Salad Recipes:
- Burrata Caprese Salad
- Peach Burrata Salad
- Mango Cucumber Salad
- 5-Minute Balsamic Thyme Tomato Salad
- Broccoli, Kale & Quinoa Salad
- Citrus Kale Salad with Grapefruit Vinaigrette
- Winter Kale Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette
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Kale Caprese Salad
- 6 cups chopped kale
- 1 cup grape tomatoes chopped
- 2 oz fresh mozzarella pearls
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves julienned
- Combine the dressing ingredients in the bottom of a medium-sized bowl.
- Remove any stems from kale leaves. Add kale to the dressing in the bowl and using your hands, massage the dressing into the kale until the kale is tender (will look slightly more wilted).
- Top with remaining tomato, mozzarella, and julienned basil and enjoy.
- Note: If meal prepping in advance, package the massaged kale salad and other components separately to ensure freshness. Can be made in advance 2-3 days.