Winter Kale Salad with Cranberries and Cranberry Vinaigrette

Winter Kale Salad with Cranberries and Cranberry Vinaigrette

This winter kale salad with cranberries is massaged with the lightest, most delicately sweet cranberry vinaigrette for a festive massaged kale salad everyone wants more of!

Overhead shot of winter kale salad with cranberries, goat cheese, toasted almonds, and a lightly sweet cranberry vinaigrette.

You HAVE to make this winter kale salad!!! I know – you’re probably thinking, “it’s a kale salad…I’ll take pumpkin pie crumble bars, please…” but there is just something about this salad. Even my husband said this winter kale salad with its lovely cranberry vinaigrette is the best salad he’s eaten in a while. Well specifically he said it was legit flavorful, energizing, bomb, amazing…lol he’s an English teacher and can get carried away. 😉

But seriously. The base of this winter kale salad is just chopped kale that is massaged with a cranberry vinaigrette. And this cranberry vinaigrette is just delightful. It’s so simple in ingredients yet provides a light and delicately sweet flavor. The kale gets massaged with the cranberry vinaigrette, then sits for at least thirty minutes (but can totally be made a day in advance). This allows the kale to get tender and really helps cut its bitterness.

Then prior to serving, just top the cranberry massaged kale salad with some delicious toppings for even more flavor and texture: dried cranberries, toasted almonds, and creamy goat cheese. And that is it!

Health Benefits of this Winter Kale Salad with Cranberries and Cranberry Vinaigrette:

A close up shot of winter kale salad with cranberries, goat cheese, and toasted almonds on a white plate.

  • Kale is incredibly nutrient-dense dark leafy green that’s actually part of the cruciferous vegetable family. A single cup of raw kale provides the following:
    • 206% of the daily value (DV) of vitamin A
    • 684% of the DV of vitamin K
    • 136% of the DV of vitamin C
    • 9% of the DV of vitamin B6
    • 26% of the DV of manganese
    • 9% of the DV of calcium
    • 10% of the DV of copper
    • 9% of the DV of potassium
    • 6% of the DV of magnesium
  • One single cup of raw kale also provides 2 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein.
  • Kale is incredibly low in fat (0.6 grams per one cup raw), but much of the fat it does have is a beneficial, heart-healthy form of fat called alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid.
  • While honey is still a form of sugar, and used as an added sugar in this recipe, it’s in very trace amounts simply meant to boost the inherent sweetness in pure cranberry juice. Honey offers additional nutritional boosts with its antioxidants and antifungal and antibacterial properties.
  • Cranberries also pack significant amounts of antioxidants.
  • The fats found in the toppings like goat cheese and almonds (or sunflower seeds, if you’re allergic) help your body better absorb fat-soluble vitamins, like alllllll of the vitamins A and K found in kale.
  • Fats also help provide satiety, in regards to both hunger fullness and taste satisfaction. The increase in textures and palatability from the crunch of toasted almonds to the creaminess of a soft goat cheese crumble makes this salad significantly more satisfying and enjoyable!

How to Massage Kale:

photo showing how to massage kale with two hands in a bowl of kale rubbing the kale with cranberry vinaigrette.

I know – I’m supposed to do what to my kale?!  Massaging kale sounds silly and a little crazy, but 1. it really works to tenderize raw kale and 2. it’s done exactly as it sounds.

All you need to do is drizzle your vinaigrette over your raw kale. Then, using your freshly cleaned hands, toss the kale in the vinaigrette and literally rub and massage the vinaigrette into the kale leaves.

Think what an actual massage feels like and accomplishes. It’s a great way to loosen and tenderize tough muscles. Raw kale can be tougher to chew in salad form, so massaging it with a vinaigrette greatly helps to tenderize the raw kale into a delightfully chewy kale and not “omg am I still chewing this same piece of raw kale?”

Goat Cheese Substitute Ideas:

I know goat cheese can be pretty polarizing. Y’all know I advocate for everyone doing what works for them – and that includes your tastebuds! So if you’re not a goat cheese fan you can try to substitute something like a feta, or really any of your favorite creamier cheeses that can be crumbled or broken over a salad.

If you’re looking for a dairy-free or plant-based alternative, you can even try adding some sliced avocado for creaminess and a hefty dose of healthy fats.

How to Make the Cranberry Vinaigrette:

A small mason jar of cranberry vinaigrette with a bowl of kale in the background to make winter kale salad.

SO easy! All you need is a little 100% cranberry juice, honey, ground ginger, and olive or avocado oil. Then just whisk the ingredients together in a small bowl. Or if you’re like me and feeling exceptionally low-maintenance, just dump the ingredients in a small mason jar, screw on the lid, and shake shake shake! This method is especially helpful if you’re prepping the dressing in advance – just give it a quick shake before pouring over the kale.

Looking for more delicious, healthy salad recipes?

Try these Nutrition to Fit tasty, health salad recipes:

A small white plate serving up winter kale salad with cranberries, goat cheese, and toasted almonds.

Give this winter kale salad with cranberries and cranberry vinaigrette a try! It’s my current go-to for holiday and work potluck offerings (and you’d be surprised, there’s always at least one other person who appreciates a healthier, nutrient-dense option!). Take a pic of your salads and share on social media, tagging @nutritiontofit and #nutritiontofit. Live well!

Overhead shot of winter kale salad with cranberries, goat cheese, toasted almonds, and a lightly sweet cranberry vinaigrette.

Winter Kale Salad with Cranberries and Cranberry Vinaigrette

Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Rest Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 102 kcal

This winter kale salad with cranberries is massaged with the lightest, most delicately sweet cranberry vinaigrette for a festive massaged kale salad everyone wants more of!

free from: gluten/ wheat, soy, egg, fish, shellfish, peanuts (*can easily be made tree nut free, see recipe notes)

Print

Ingredients

For the Cranberry Vinaigrette:

  • 2 tbsp 100% cranberry juice
  • 1 tbsp avocado or olive oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger

For the Kale Salad:

  • 8 cups chopped kale
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup almond slivers toasted
  • 2 oz goat cheese crumbled

Instructions

  1. Whisk together cranberry vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl. Alternatively, you can combine the cranberry vinaigrette ingredients in a small mason jar, seal tightly, and shake vigorously!

  2. Place chopped kale in a large mixing bowl. Pour cranberry vinaigrette over the kale. Using freshly cleaned hands, massage the kale by tossing the kale in the vinaigrette and using your hands to rub the vinaigrette into the kale to help tenderize it. Cover and allow the kale to rest in the fridge at least 30 minutes (or overnight) to continue to tenderize.

  3. Prior to serving, top with crumbled goat cheese, slivered almonds, and dried cranberries. Serve and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

Nut-Free Substitution: toast sunflower seeds instead of almonds.

Dairy-Free Substitution: try adding sliced or cubed avocado or a creamy, vegan cheese alternative instead.

Vegan Substitute: in addition to using a dairy-free substitute, you can easily sub maple syrup for honey.

Nutrition information is calculated based on exact ingredients used and can vary with substitutions.

This winter kale salad makes excellent leftovers and can be refrigerated in an airtight container. It is best used within 48 hours.

Nutrition Facts
Winter Kale Salad with Cranberries and Cranberry Vinaigrette
Amount Per Serving
Calories 102 Calories from Fat 45
% Daily Value*
Fat 5g8%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Cholesterol 3mg1%
Sodium 51mg2%
Potassium 352mg10%
Carbohydrates 10g3%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 6765IU135%
Vitamin C 80.8mg98%
Calcium 119mg12%
Iron 1.2mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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I'm Lindsey! I'm passionate about helping you find healthy habits and nutrition that fit your life - not the other way around!

by LINDSEY JANEIRO, RDN, CLT