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!
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:
- 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:
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:
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:
- Blueberry Panzanella Salad
- Cranberry Apple Harvest Salad
- Broccoli Kale Quinoa Salad
- Golden Beet Salad with Blueberry Lime Dressing
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!
Winter Kale Salad with Cranberries and Cranberry Vinaigrette
free from: gluten/ wheat, soy, egg, fish, shellfish, peanuts (*can easily be made tree nut free, see recipe notes)
For the Cranberry Vinaigrette:
- 2 tbsp 100% cranberry juice
- 1 tbsp avocado or olive oil
- 1 tsp honey
- ⅛ tsp ground ginger
For the Kale Salad:
- 8 cups chopped kale
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup almond slivers toasted
- 2 oz goat cheese crumbled
- 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!
- 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.
- Prior to serving, top with crumbled goat cheese, slivered almonds, and dried cranberries. Serve and enjoy!