This Tuscan Kale Salad is addictively delicious and ready in just 10 minutes. Crunchy, tangy, satisfying and colorful…this is THE BEST kale salad and a tasty way to add more plants to your diet!
This post has been updated from the original posted January 20, 2022.
Looking to add more plants to your diet? This Chopped Kale Salad is an easy and tasty way to get started! It’s loaded with crunchy veggies and a balsamic miso dressing that is tangy and satisfying. Plus, you’ll love how quickly it all comes together.
This colorful Kale Salad Recipe is versatile, easy to make and BEAUTIFUL. You can customize it with different veggies, or even a different kale salad dressing (oh hello vegan caesar dressing or avocado lime dressing)….but you’re definitely going to adore this Chopped Kale Salad.
Salad doesn’t have to be boring…and enjoying leafy greens more often is a great way to keep your gut happy, your bowels regular and your weight in check! Recipes with tuscan kale are EASY to make and the deep green color is beautiful and nutritious.
Ingredients and Substitutions:
Honestly, what makes this Tuscan kale salad so good is the colors, the crunch and the variety in every bite. Take some liberties to swap out the veggies you prefer or have on hand..or add in beans or lentils for a main course plant based salad. Here’s what I used:
- Tuscan kale: also called lacinato kale or dinosaur Kale. Any hearty leafy green like green or red curly kale, brussel sprouts leaves, or collard greens would be good subs.
- Cabbage: Red cabbage is bright and colorful. Green cabbage or savoy cabbage is a good substitution. Or use fennel, bok choy, celery or shredded brussel sprouts.
- Cucumber: Good substitutes are jicama or celery. Go for the crunch factor.
- Bell peppers: Use any color that will offer a visual boost to your chopped salad.
- Scallion: Substitute red onion or shallots, in a small dice.
- Carrots: I love how pretty the purple carrots are…but any color is a good choice.
- Marcona almonds: Yum! Feel free to use any nut or seed. Try toasting them in a dry pan to add flavor and crunch. For nut allergies, try adding some roasted chick peas or crispy black beans for added crunch.
- Miso dressing: Ah-mazing…but if you’re not into miso then go ahead and sub Tahini Dressing or Vegan Caesar or a simple Homemade Italian Dressing. You do you….but don’t miss out on this epic chopped salad.
Best Kale Salad Dressing
This Balsamic Miso Dressing is perfect on this lacinato kale salad. It’s super tasty and takes just a couple minutes to whisk together.
- Miso: Yum for vegan umami flavor! Just what a kale salad needs!
- Mustard: One of my favorite salad dressing ingredients!
- Balsamic: rich color and zing!
- Maple syrup: to balance all that savory tang.
- Water: just enough to thin this out for a pourable consistency without diluting the intense yumminess.
More Awesome Kale Salad Dressing Options
- Healthy Ranch Dressing
- Green Tahini Sauce
- Vegan Caesar Dressing
- Chipotle Salad Dressing
- Vegan Avocado Dressing
How to make The Best Kale Salad
First prep the kale. This is how I prep tuscan kale for salad and I would use the same method with curly kale. Give it a good wash. Soak it in water to remove all dirt and debris. Use a salad spinner to get most of the water off and then wrap in a clean dish towel to further dry.
- This is what Tuscan Kale (aka: dinosaur kale or lacinato kale) looks like, front and back. It’s a bit darker and more tender than curly kale, making it an awesome choice for a chopped salad.
- Stack the kale leaves on top of each other and begin to thinly slice, starting with end that doesn’t have the woody stem. Continue slicing until the stem becomes thick and woody, about ⅔ way down.
- Hold the bottom stem in one hand and then, using the other hand, push the leafy part on both sides of the stem so it separates from the stem.
- Thinly slice the rest of the leaves.
- Discard the woody stems into your compost or save them to juice.
Place kale in a large bowl. Sprinkle with a bit of sea salt before massaging gently with your hands. If you’re cutting back on sodium, just skip the salt, but don’t skip the massage! Really, it’s the massaging that helps to tenderize the lacinato kale, making is softer and more easily digested. The best way to massage the kale is by hand, with or without the added salt. You don’t need to massage the dressing onto the kale.
While the kale sits and softens, make the miso balsamic dressing.
In a small bowl, whisk together the miso, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, maple syrup and water until smooth and creamy.
Once the kale has been massaged, start loading in the chopped veggies. It doesn’t matter too much what shapes you cut the veggies into, but the best chopped salads have bite sized pieces.
Pour dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Start with ½ the dressing. Taste. Add more kale salad dressing as desired or serve with just half the dressing and pass a pitcher around so everyone can add more to their taste.
MEAL PREP AND STORAGE
- Serve: Serve as a side salad, or make it a meal by adding in some plant based protein like beans or lentils.
- Prep: Make the dressing in advance. It will stay good in the fridge for a week. Wash and chop the kale a couple days or a couple hours in advance. Don’t massage it until you’re ready to dress and toss. The veggies can also be chopped and left in the fridge in an airtight container until you’re ready to toss the salad.
- Store: Undressed salad will stay good in the fridge for 4 days. Dressed salad will stay good for 1-2 days.
Debra’s Pro Tips
- A mandoline or food processor will expedite the chopping. Personally, I find chopping veggies meditative, so that’s what I usually do…and it takes me less than 10 minutes to chop everything for this salad, including the kale.
- Use a larger bowl than you think you will need to make tossing (without making a big mess) the salad easier. You can transfer to a prettier or smaller bowl if desired after the dressing is well incorporated.
- MASSAGE THE KALE! It does make a difference. Some people will say it MUST be done with salt or oil…but neither is necessary to soften the kale…it’s the massage that will break down the fibers making it more tender and less bitter.
- Throw on some chickpeas, cooked lentils or beans to make this a main dish salad.
More Vegan Chopped Salad Recipes:
Tuscan Salad FAQs
Yes. Kale can be eaten raw. Tuscan Kale is less bitter than the curly variety making it a good choice to use in salads.
It is not necessary to massage kale before using it, but it will help make it more tender and less bitter if you plan to eat it raw. You do not need to use salt or oil when massaging. Use your hands and gently massage the kale to break down the fibers and soften it for use in salads, or to lessen the cooking time.
Baby kale generally has young, tender leaves, similar to spinach. Tuscan or Lacinato Kale is generally more tender than mature curly kale.
The richer the color, the more nutritious your kale will be. Lacinato (dinosaur or Tuscan) kale is generally a deeper green than curly green kale. The best kale is the one you enjoy and will eat most often!
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Tuscan Kale Salad
- 1 bunch lacinato kale
- 4 scallions thinly sliced
- 3 small Persian cucumbers diced
- 2 cups shredded cabbage
- 3 carrots chopped into thin rounds
- 1 red pepper diced
- ¾ cup marcona almonds
- OPTIONAL: ¼ teaspoon sea salt*
Balsamic Miso Dressing
- ¼ cup light miso*
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- ¼ cup water
- 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
- Wash the kale. Stack the leaves and place the top leaf so that the stem is horizontal. Start on the non-woody stem end to make thin slices until about ¾ down. Then de-stem the remaining portion of each kale leaf, removing the harder stem. Roughly chop remaining kale.
- Place kale in large bowl and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt. Gently massage kale with your hands, breaking down the fibers. Let kale sit to further soften while you prepare remaining ingredients.
- MAKE THE DRESSING: In a small bowl, whisk together miso, mustard, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup and water.
- Thinly slice scallions; dice cucumbers and red peppers, thinly slice cabbage and carrots. Add to bowl with kale. Sprinkle on marcona almonds.
- Pour ½ the dressing over the salad and mix until everything is well incorporated. Pour on additional dressing, as desired and mix again.