This baby kale salad has a rich creamy Asian dressing and is topped with macadamia nuts making it truly indulgent. It’s incredibly satisfying for lunch or top with your favorite protein for dinner. Easy to make, paleo and vegan.
Kale salad was really popular a few years ago and then seemed to go out of style. I recently enjoyed a fabulous kale salad at a restaurant in Turks and Caicos when I was on vacation. It was so incredibly good I had to make it when I got home.
One of the key things with kale salad is getting the raw kale soft enough to make it easy to chew. When the kale is too tough its not enjoyable. The creamy dressing made with tahini or almond butter helps tenderize the kale to create a delicate texture.
What Kind of Kale Is Best?
I use baby kale because it has small tender leaves and you can buy it already washed. It has a milder flavor than mature kale, yet its leaves are still peppery and sturdy enough to hold up to a creamy dressing.
If you can’t find baby kale use either curly kale or lacinato “dinosaur” kale. Some people say lacinato kale is slightly sweeter and more delicate but either one will work. Look for kale with the the smallest, most delicate leaves.
If using lacinato or curly kale, remove the stems and tear or cut the kale into bite size pieces and then MASSAGE the leaves. Yes, massaging them improves the texture and flavor.
To massage the kale, place the leaves into a large bowl and drizzle with 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of olive oil, and a few pinches of sea salt. Use your hands to MASSAGE the leaves until they become soft and wilted and reduce in the bowl by about half. Then proceed with the recipe.
In addition to kale, I add carrots, cucumber, radishes and avocado. Since the kale already has a lot of texture the other vegetables need to be cut small.
To slice the radish nice and thin I like using a hand held mandoline. It makes slicing radishes super easy. If you eat salad often these tools are great to have.
The avocado makes the salad more satisfying and dramatically increases the number of antioxidants you absorb from the other vegetables.
The creamy Asian dressing is gingery, sweet, salty and easy to make. Perfect for kale salad. It can also be used on other Asian inspired dishes.
For the dressing mix tahini, with ginger, garlic, rice vinegar, gluten free tamari or coconut aminos, toasted sesame oil, maple syrup and water. The amount of water will depend on how thick your tahini is. Use enough water to get a pourable consistency. The dressing is also good using almond butter instead of tahini.
I use a microplane to grate the ginger and garlic, it’s much easier than chopping it. This is another really great kitchen tool.
To make the salad, toss the kale with half the dressing first to get the leaves fully coated. Then add the remaining vegetables.
Toss the salad again and put onto 2 plates.
I top the salad with roasted macadamia nuts which have a rich buttery flavor. They also help your body reduce inflammation because of their high magnesium content. Most of us need more magnesium. This mineral is essential for optimum bone and teeth health, blood clotting, and sleep regulation[*][*]
Sliced or chopped almonds would also taste great in place of the macadamia nuts.
This Baby Kale Salad is quick and easy to make with simple ingredients. You’ll love how satisfying and comforting it is. There is lots of protein, fat and fiber and it’s full of mood enhancing B vitamins. Top it with beans, chicken or salmon for additional protein.
I love the tender and creamy texture from the tahini dressing. It’s the perfect nutrient rich lunch, substantial enough to keep you going the rest of the day.
Nutrition Note: Some people with thyroid problems do not respond well to raw kale. Notice how it makes you feel. Always listen to your body, she is there to guide you.
If you like this recipe you may also like these other salads:
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This baby kale salad has a rich creamy Asian dressing and is topped with macadamia nuts making it incredibly satisfying.
Creamy Asian Dressing
- 1/3 cup tahini
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 1 small clove garlic, minced or grated (about 1 teaspoon)
- 1 tablespoon gluten free tamari or coconut aminos (more to taste)
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup
- 4–6 tablespoons water
- 5 ounces baby kale or lacinato or curly kale*
- 1/4 organic seedless English cucumber or 1 mini organic cucumber, julienned
- 1 small carrot, julienned or grated
- 2 radishes, very thinly sliced
- 1 avocado, cubed
- ¼ cup macadamia nuts, toasted and chopped
- Celtic sea salt and pepper to taste
Creamy Asian Dressing
- Start by preparing the dressing.
- In a 1 cup glass measuring cup or small bowl add tahini, fresh ginger, garlic, tamari, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and maple syrup and whisk to combine.
- Add water until a creamy, pourable sauce is achieved. Taste and adjust flavor as needed. If using coconut aminos you may need a little more. Set aside while you prepare the salad.
- Place the kale into a large bowl. If using lacinato or curly kale see notes below.*
- Drizzle generously with the creamy Asian dressing using about 3/4. Mix to coat the leaves.
- Add the carrot, cucumber, radishes, and half of the cubed avocado. Mix again to combine evenly. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if desired.
- Place the salad onto 2 plates.
- Top with the remaining avocado, sprinkle with the macadamia. Serve remaining dressing on the side
If using lacinato or curly kale, remove the stems and tear or cut the kale into bite size pieces. Place the kale leaves into a large bowl and drizzle with 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of olive oil, and a few pinches of salt. Use your hands to massage the leaves until they become soft and wilted and reduce in the bowl by about half. Proceed with the recipe.
If you want to store the salad, don’t add dressing until ready to serve.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Category: Salad, Side Dish
- Cuisine: Vegan, Paleo, Gluten-Free
Keywords: kale salad, baby kale salad