This loaded vegan kale pomegranate salad drizzled with an apple cider-dijon dressing is a delicious upgrade from typical kale salads. Perfect for lunch, dinner or better yet–add it to your Thanksgiving and Christmas menu!
If you’re in the mood for flavor-filled salads, then try my Autumn Salad recipe, next!
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Kale Pomegranate Salad
When I’m in the mood for a simple, filling salad, I always for this kale pomegranate salad. Loaded with pomegranate seeds, asian pear, maple glazed pecans, wild rice, kale and, a delicious apple cider-dijon dressing–oh yes, it’s so uniquely satisfying. While this is a vegan salad, you can load it up with chicken breast, grilled fish or top it with crumbled goat cheese.
Another reason this salad is on heavy rotation is because from October to November, my mom loads me up with pomegranates and kale from her garden, so this is a good (and by far, my favorite) way to put these garden goodies to use.
Why This Kale Pomegranate Salad Works
- Healthy and satisfying. Loaded with fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables and incredibly satisfying.
- Great for gatherings. Need a vegetable side dish thats not roasted vegetables? Not only is this salad great on its own, but paired with a holiday turkey, ham, roasted chicken–heck, even mashed potatoes, this salad is the perfect mate.
- Apple cider-dijon dressing, oh my. Okay, this dressing is de-li-cious, folks. It’s luscious with a lovely balance of sweet and tart.
Ingredients in Kale and Pomegranate Salad
This salad calls for a few steps, but it’s worth it, I promise. Not only is this salad flavorful, but it’s also filled with texture and loads of pomegranate seeds for that perfect pop.
- Apple Cider-Dijon Dressing – Tart and sweet.
- Maple Glazed Pecans – Lending this salad its sweet and salty crunch.
- Marinated Kale – Curly kale thats marinated in lemon juice, olive oil and a pinch of kosher salt.
- Wild Rice Blend – Cooked in vegetable broth, giving it an extra boost in flavor.
- Pomegranate Seeds – A pop of freshness and crunchy texture.
- Asian Pears – Yielding the same delicious flavor of a pear but with the juiciness of an apple.
- Cheese (optional) – Crumbled goat and feta cheese pair oh-so-well with this salad.
Ingredients You’ll Need to Make This Insanely Delicious Apple Cider-Dijon Dressing
I’ve fallen hard for this dressing. A bit exaggerated? Maybe. But seriously, it’s damn delicious and I use it not only in this salad, but other hearty salads as well. It’s slightly tart from the apple cider vinegar, with a hint of sweetness from the maple syrup, oh–and has a subtle kick from the dijon mustard. Put simply, utter deliciousness in your mouth. Let’s break it down:
- Quality olive oil
- Dijon mustard
- Apple cider vinegar
- Maple syrup, grade A
- Kosher Salt – I only use this brand
- Freshly cracked black pepper
How to Make This Fantastic Fall-Inspired Salad
- Make the wild rice blend. Since this step requires time for the rice to cook, check this off the list, first.
- Start by making the sweet and salty maple-glazed pecans.
- Make the dressing and set aside. Doing this while pecans are roasted will give dressing ingredients time for the flavors to marry.
- Massage kale for a softer and more enjoyable chewing experience.
- Prep fruit by de-seeding pomegranates and cutting asian pear into little cubes and set aside.
- Get creative when assembling the ingredients in a bowl. Top with apple cider-dijon dressing and serve.
How to Marinate Kale
Kale haters, this one is for you. Hear me out; when consuming raw kale, its leaves need to me massaged (or tenderized) before consuming in the form of a salad. When using curly kale, specifically, the fibrous and hearty texture could use a little extra TLC for a better eating experience.
Lacinato kale can also be massaged prior to raw consumption, but its leaves are more tender compared to its curly kale cousin, so it’s not always necessary.
To massage raw curly kale before tossing in the rest of the salad ingredients, simply:
- Remove from stem – Hold kale at the bottom of the stem, grip and pull away from you. This will remove the stem from the leaf.
- Add ingredients – Place kale in a mixing bowl and add olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of kosher salt.
- Gently massage – Use your hands to gently massage kale for 2-3 minutes. As you massage, you’ll notice kale will slowly begin to soften. Don’t overdo this step, as you still want the kale to have a crunch to it. Set aside until ready for assembly.
Tools You’ll Need
Looking for More Good Eats?
I’ll make searching for your next meal easy for you. These are a few of my favorites:
The Only Fall and Winter Salad You’ll Need. Really.
Wild Rice Blend
- 1 cup wild rice mix
- Vegetable broth or chicken broth
- ¼ tsp kosher salt, Diamond Crystal Brand
Maple Glazed Pecans - Sweet and Salty
- 2 cups raw pecans
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
- ¼ cup maple syrup, grade A
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, Diamond Crystal brand
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 5 tablespoons quality olive oil
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2½ tablespoons dijon mustard
- 2 clove garlic, grated
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt - Diamond Crystal brand, plus more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, or to taste
- 1½ tablespoons shallot, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup, grade A
- 2 teaspoons water, plus more to thin out to desired consistency
- 2 bunches curly kale, stems removed
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ tablespoon quality oil
- 1 cup pomegranate seeds
- 2 asian pear, medium-sized, diced
- 5 ounces goat or feta cheese
Wild Rice Blend
- Cook rice as directed on the package. Substitute water with vegetable or chicken broth + ¼ tsp kosher salt.
Maple Glazed Pecans
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Add raw pecans, unsalted butter, maple syrup, kosher salt, and vanilla extract to a mixing bowl and mix well.
- Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour pecans onto baking sheet and spread into an even layer.
- Place in oven. Stir after the first 10 minutes. Check after 5 minutes and remove once pecans are deep brown in color. Remove from oven, stir once more and leave to cool to room temp.
- Add all ingredients to a sterile jar and shake vigorously to combine. Will keep in the refrigerator for 1 week.
- Add kale, lemon juice, olive oil and pinch of kosher salt to a large mixing bowl. Gently massage kale with hands for 2-3 minutes or until texture is noticeably softer, but still has a crunchy bite to it. Set aside until ready for assembly.
- Add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Pour desired amount of apple cider-dijon dressing and mix well. Be sure to scoop from the bottom when mixing as the heavier ingredients gravitate to the bottom of the bowl.
- Serve immediately. If you plan to serve later, wait to add apple cider-dijon dressing.