Simple Kale Salad with cranberries, pepitas and a fresh lemon dressing

The Simplest Kale Salad

Simplicity is a beautiful thing. Over the past month (where did the time go?!), I feel like I’ve been running around from place to place, so when I’ve been back home, simple is about all I can handle in the food department. Three ingredients and a quick homemade dressing are all you need to make this easy kale salad. It works as lunch, with maybe some grilled chicken on top, or just a side to whatever graces the dinner table.

Simple salads are sometimes the hardest to find and make enjoyable, which is why I didn’t feel quite so bad sharing a 3 ingredient salad with you today. Usually, they need a sprinkle of bacon, a handful of cheese, and maybe some avocado (guilty) to make them worthy of eating. Let’s see if we can change that.

The past couple weeks have taken me to Spain with friends where we indulged in plenty of tapas and wine, then to Colorado where family and friends meant even more food (and dessert!). Both were trips filled with incredible scenery, fun activities (dodging sea urchins while wading into the Mediterranean is about as high-stakes as I’m willing to go), and great people. Somehow, those three things always seem to go along with a lot of good food, and thus necessitate plenty of salad in my life upon returning home.

Simple Kale Salad with cranberries, pepitas and a fresh lemon dressing

While in Colorado, I tried a kale salad at a cookout, and think my opinion about kale might have been altered forever. I’ve always been a bit of a sceptic, but have started to come around (particularly when it is hidden among other delicious things like in my easy Stuffed Red Peppers). I think we can call it official, though: when dressed with plenty of bright, tangy dressing, paired with dried fruit and crunchy nuts, kale is completely transformed.

The key to a really great kale salad is to massage it. I’ll include directions for this in the actual recipe too, but don’t skip this step! It’s what gets rid of that bitter, prickly kale taste (can a taste be prickly? Just go with it…).  There’s not much to a good kale massage – just toss your kale with the dressing, and work it with (clean) hands, or the back of a spoon if you don’t feel like getting quite so intimately familiar with your salad. Once the leaves look darker and are a little less stiff, you’re all set to toss in any remaining ingredients and chow down.

Simple Kale Salad with cranberries, pepitas and a fresh lemon dressing

I suggest whipping this up the next time you’re looking for an easy side dish to accompany dinner. You’ll feel virtuous for eating kale, I’ll feel virtuous because you made a recipe that I (finally) got up on here, and we can all relish the fact that salads have been lifted from their bacon and cheese covered grave.

The Simplest Kale Salad

Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 2-4



2 tablespoons lemon juice (juice of ~1 small lemon)

1/2 tablespoon dijon mustard

1/2 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoons olive oil

Pinch each of: salt, pepper, dried oregano


4 cups chopped kale leaves

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup roasted, shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas) – I use a lightly salted variety, but feel free to use what you like best


In a medium bowl, whisk together all salad dressing ingredients until fully blended. Add kale and toss to coat. If you’re up for it (and you should be), gently “massage” the kale by working it with your hands (or the back of a spoon if you don’t want to dip your hands in your salad…), similarly to how you would knead dough, or perhaps give a head massage.

Finally, add in the dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds. Give it a good final toss, and eat immediately, or store in the fridge. Kale stores impressively well, even dressed, but it will lose some of its crunch after the first day