Winter Kale Salad with Apples and Cheddar

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I love a good winter kale salad, but a good one is hard to come by sometimes.
Kale has been trendy for a while now, so you see it everywhere these days, but a lot of restaurants put it on their menu because it’s trendy, and don’t always understand what makes it good. It’s not the dressing, although this certainly helps. It’s also not the other ingredients, but again, this shouldn’t be overlooked.
The best kale salad comes from a technique that only takes a few minutes, but makes a big difference — massage. Yes, massage. Massaging your kale breaks down the tough fibers that make it hard to chew. When kale is thinly sliced and then massages for a few minutes before adding to your salad, you get something that is tender, flavorful, and easy to eat. The alternative tough and woody kale salad is what you get in a lot of restaurants that don’t put any thought into it.
Of course, the dressing and ingredients do matter. Unlike delicate greens, kale benefits from hearty accompaniments. This salad is crunchy, sweet, salty, and tangy. It holds its own, and makes a meal in its own right. It’s the perfect salad when it’s cold outside and you’re tired of cold weather stews and braises, and just want something fresh.
I added purple Brussels sprouts here because I saw them at a local market. They add a pop of vibrant color, but if you can’t find purple ones, the regular green ones will do fine. The dressing is an easy combination of olive oil, lemon, garlic, and mustard. Sharp white cheddar adds a pungent note. Crunchy, sweet apples, and roasted sunflower seeds round it out, making it a winter kale salad you’ll want to eat again and again. It’s not complicated, but it is delicious.

Winter Kale Salad with Apples and Cheddar

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Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 2



  • 1 bunch Tuscan kale sliced into thin ribbons
  • 1/2 pound Brussels sprouts core removed, thinly sliced
  • 1 Honeycrisp apple cored, seeded, thinly sliced
  • 2 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese shredded or thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup roasted and salted sunflower seeds


  • 1/4 cup good quality olive oil
  • Juice and zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 small shallot minced
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic grated


  • Massage the kale with your fingers for a few minutes until broken down, and add it to a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients.
  • To make the dressing, put all of the ingredients in a jar and shake until well combined. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and add it to the salad before serving. Enjoy immediately.
Nutrition information is only an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. View full nutrition disclousre.
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