This fall kale salad is the perfect way to welcome the autumn harvest to your holiday table. Tender kale combined with carrots, dates, feta cheese and a sweet maple dressing make this salad flavorful, colorful, and nutritious. This easy recipe is ready in just 15 minutes and makes a great side!
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💭 Why you'll love this recipe
- Perfect salad for Fall. This healthy kale salad has all the Fall flavors we love and makes a delicious pairing for many Fall main dishes, Thanksgiving meals, and holiday recipes. Check out this garlic lemon kale salad and 50 other kale salad recipes if you want other inspiration!
- Packed with nutrients. Kale is a highly nutritious leafy green that's packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Combining it with other healthy ingredients like carrots creates a salad that's full of nutrients.
- Versatile dish. You can change up or add more seasonal vegetables to this delicious kale salad, such as honeycrisp apples, butternut squash, brussels sprouts, and pomegranate seeds. You can also serve this as a warm salad or a cold salad.
📋 Ingredients and notes
To make this fall kale salad, you'll need walnuts, pitted dates, young kale, carrots, crumbled feta, and nigella seeds.
To make the maple dressing, you'll need freshly squeezed lemon juice, maple syrup, dijon mustard, black pepper, granulated garlic, ground cumin, molasses, kosher salt, and extra virgin olive oil.
Notes and variations
- Young kale. Use any type of fresh kale that you have like baby kale, curly kale, tuscan kale, or lacinato kale. If you don't have kale but still want to make this salad, you can use spinach, arugula, or Swiss chard for a similar leafy green texture. Massaging the kale can be a great way to get it to the right texture.
- Carrots. Cut carrots into ⅛-inch-thick matchsticks for a good, crunchy bite. If you don't have carrots on hand, you can also use other root vegetables like sweet potatoes, parsnips, or beets.
- Dates. You can substitute pitted dates with prunes, raisins, figs, or dried cranberries or apricots to retain that sweet, chewy element.
- Nigella seeds. To substitute nigella seeds, you can use black sesame seeds or cumin seeds for a similar nutty and earthy flavor. Other options are walnuts, pecans, almonds, pumpkin seeds, or sunflower seeds
- Crumbled feta. Substitute feta cheese with crumbled goat cheese or vegan feta cheese. You can also cotija or any of these cotija cheese substitutes. You can also use Parmesan, or blue cheese.
- Maple syrup. Substitute with honey, agave nectar, or brown rice syrup.
- Molasses. Replace molasses with dark corn syrup, honey, or brown sugar mixed with a bit of water to provide sweetness and depth to your dishes.
📖 How to make fall kale salad
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add walnuts and blanch for 30 seconds. Drain and set aside to cool. Transfer walnuts to a baking sheet, spread out in a single layer, and toast for 3 to 4 minutes until golden brown. Set aside.
Coarsely chop dates. You can use fresh or frozen dates here.
Add kale, carrots, and dates into a large bowl and toss.
To make the dressing
To make the dressing for kale salad, combine all ingredients except the oil in a blender and mix well. With the blender running, gradually add the oil and blend until emulsified.
Transfer to a container or small bowl. Set aside.
Toss salad in dressing.
Add dressing and toss again. Transfer to a serving plate (or individual plates) and top with feta, walnuts, and nigella seeds.
👩🏽🍳 Tips to make the best fall kale salad
Make the best autumn kale salad by following these expert tips!
- Massage the kale leaves. The secret to the best kale salad recipe is to soften the kale. Massage it with a bit of olive oil, lemon juice, or vinaigrette and gently rub the dressing into the leaves for a few minutes until soft.
- Add more seasonal ingredients to capture the flavors of fall. Use apples, pears, cranberries, and squash for a more flavorful and vibrant salad.
- Add a variety of toppings. To add flavor and crunch, add delicious toppings like pumpkin seeds, cranberries, parmesan cheese to your kale salad!
👩🏽🍳 Troubleshooting FAQs
Yes, you can prepare most ingredients of fall kale salad in advance, such as massaging the kale and making the dressing. However, it's best to assemble the salad just before serving to keep it fresh and crisp.
No, kale salad can be enjoyed year-round. But it's great for the fall when many of the seasonal ingredients are fresh and readily available!
Kale leaves can be tough and have a slightly bitter taste. Massaging them in lemon juice, olive oil, or vinaigrette makes them softer and lessens the bitter flavor.
To make this recipe vegan, omit feta cheese or replace it with a vegan alternative. Make sure that your molasses is processed without involving bone char. You can also substitute molasses with agave syrup and brown rice syrup.
🍴 What to serve with fall kale salad
Fall kale salad is a refreshing side dish alongside your favorite fall dishes and a great addition to your thanksgiving table. You can also pair this fall salad with:
- Proteins: Roasted tofu, chickpeas, or even hard-boiled eggs.
- Other vegetables: Roasted sweet potatoes, butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, or cauliflower, grilled portobello mushrooms, or avocado slices
- Grains: Quinoa, brown rice, or wild rice
🍴 Storage instructions
This carrot and kale salad is best enjoyed while fresh and eaten on the same day. However, you can store leftover kale salad in an airtight container and keep it in the refrigerator for up to two days.
Make sure to keep the dressing in a separate container (like a mason jar) to prevent the salad from becoming soggy. Line the bottom of the salad container with paper towels to help absorb excess moisture.
🍴 More Fall salads
If you're looking for more fall salad recipes, try these out:
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Fall Kale Salad
To make the salad
- ¼ cup sliced walnuts
- ¼ cup pitted dates, frozen for one hour
- 1 bunch kale, stems and center ribs removed, coarsely chopped
- 2 carrots, large, cut into ⅛-inch-thick matchsticks
- 1 feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 teaspoon nigella seeds, for garnish
To make the dressing
- ½ cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 1½ tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon black pepper, freshly ground
- 2 tablespoon granulated garlic
- 2 teaspoon s ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons molasses
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
To make fall kale salad
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Add walnuts and blanch for 30 seconds. Drain and set aside to cool. Transfer walnuts to a baking sheet, spread out in a single layer, and toast in the oven for 3 to 4 minutes until golden brown. Set aside.
- Coarsely chop frozen dates. Put kale, carrots, and dates into a large bowl and toss.
To make the dressing
- Combine all ingredients except the oil in a blender and mix well. With the blender running, gradually add the oil and blend until emulsified. Set aside.
- Add dressing and toss again.
- Transfer to a serving plate (or individual plates) and top with feta, walnuts, and nigella seeds.
- Use fresh, high-quality ingredients. This will make a big difference in the taste of your salad. Choose kale that is dark green and has firm leaves. Avoid kale that is yellow or has wilted leaves.
- Massage the kale before dressing it. This will help to soften the leaves and make them easier to digest.
- Add the dressing to the kale first and toss to coat. Then, add the other ingredients and toss again. This will help to prevent the salad from becoming soggy.
- Don't overdress the salad. A little bit of dressing goes a long way.
- Let the salad sit for a few minutes before serving. This will give the flavors time to meld.