With the surprising addition of fresh mint leaves, this kale and pear salad combines tender kale, juicy ripe pears, briny feta cheese, and a sprinkling of savory granola, topped with a creamy yogurt dressing.
Are you getting the winter blahs yet? Here in Michigan, gray clouds are the norm and nights are longer than the days. Kind of gives me the urge to hibernate like a chipmunk, curled up in a cozy bed underground, nibbling on seeds and nuts, and waiting for the warm sun to appear.
Alas, hibernating isn’t an option for this busy mom! And honestly, after a day or two of hibernation, I’d probably be looking at the gym longingly. Well, maybe, I would.
I certainly would be drawn out of my hibernation by this delightful kale and pear salad! My mom and I made this salad for lunch the other day and we are both always bowled over by how good it is! The creamy yogurt dressing coats the kale perfectly, and the fresh mint adds so much flavor! It is kind of unexpected but is perfect with this salad.
And did I mention the crunchy savory granola? Made with a mixture of oats, sunflower seeds, pepitas, and chia seeds, it satisfies the hungry chipmunk in all of us. I know you’re going to love this salad!
About this kale and pear salad:
I’ll start with the dressing. The base of this dressing is plain yogurt. You can use Greek or regular yogurt, just so long as it’s unflavored and unsweetened. Whisk in olive oil, maple syrup, fresh lemon juice, cider vinegar, and salt until you have a nice smooth creamy dressing.
Because kale is widely available during the winter months, it’s the perfect green to buy. This salad calls for 10 cups of washed, chopped kale leaves, loosely packed. Be sure to remove the tough stems before you chop the kale into bite sized pieces. Keep on reading to see how to make kale tender for a salad. (Hint: it’s a massage!)
When you’re ready to serve the salad, add thin slices of a ripe pear, rings of red onion and fresh mint leaves, either minced or roughly torn, and toss them with the kale. Sprinkle on feta cheese and savory granola. Click here to find out how to make your own savory granola.
Enjoy your kale and pear salad. I know you’re going to love it!
How to make kale tender for a salad:
The answer is a massage! Not for you, so don’t get your hopes up. For the kale! Yes, that’s right, even kale needs a massage now and then.
The best way to make kale nice and tender for a salad is to massage the dressing right into the kale leaves. Just put the dressing on and with your (clean) bare hands, rub the dressing into the kale. Squeeze and squish!
Take your time. Massaging kale leaves is a tactile experience, sort of relaxing, and it feels nice on your hands. Massage for a few minutes and you’re done. Even after you wash the excess dressing from your hands, your skin will feel smooth and moisturized, almost like you got a mani.
And your kale? Well, how do you feel after a massage?!
Massaging breaks down the tough cell structure, making the kale tender, less bitter, and easier to digest. It improves both the flavor and texture of kale salad because honestly, sometimes kale can be a little tough to chew.
How long should you massage the kale? You’ll be able to tell. It shouldn’t look like cooked spinach–if it does, you’ve gotten a little carried away. It should be soft, but not mushy. The color will be a little more vibrant and the leaves won’t be as rough feeling.
How to make this kale salad your own:
After you’ve massaged the kale with the yogurt dressing, you can top it in various ways.
- Couldn’t find any ripe pears? Thinly sliced apples are a delicious substitute. Pomegranate arils would add a nice tart crunch.
- Not crazy about mint? Just leave it out. Or add a different herb. Parsley would be delicious.
- Instead of raw red onion, try pickled red onions.
- I like feta cheese but goat cheese, gorgonzola, or blue cheese would be yummy, too.
- Don’t have time to make the savory granola? Top the salad with chopped, toasted walnuts or pecans.
- Add cooked and cooled quinoa to make this a vegetarian main course meal.
- Try adding a diced avocado to the salad. Or make a creamy avocado dressing instead of the yogurt dressing.
To store this salad, you can massage the kale with the dressing and it will last at least a couple of days in the fridge, tightly wrapped. The kale will retain a good texture. Store the other components of the salad separately.
Other kale salad recipes:
I’m a fan of kale! It’s rich in fiber, nutrients like vitamin C, and antioxidants, great for building up your immunity during the winter months. You’ll want to be sure to try these kale salad recipes:
- Sweet kale salad with cranberries and poppy seed dressing
- Kale salad with pomegranate, oranges, and pine nuts
- Kale salad with avocado and cumin lime dressing
- Kale salad with farro and honey Dijon dressing
- Kale sweet potato salad with quinoa and creamy chili lime dressing (with roasted sweet potatoes)
- Farro salad with kale, butternut squash, bacon and cranberries
- Asian Kale Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing by Once Upon a Chef (can’t wait to try this one!)
- ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 3 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 ½ teaspoons cider vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 10 cups roughly chopped stemmed kale leaves (from 2 bunches), loosely packed
- 1 ripe pear, thinly sliced
- ¼ medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh mint, additional for garnish
- ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
- Savory granola
- Whisk yogurt, olive oil, maple syrup, lemon juice, cider vinegar, and salt in a large bowl. Add kale and massage with the dressing (about 3 minutes or so) to soften the leaves. Add pear, onion, and mint, and toss to combine.
- Serve the salad topped with feta, savory granola, and additional mint, if desired.
- Massaged kale will keep a few days in the fridge, tightly covered. Store the other components of the salad separately for best results.
- Thinly sliced apples are a good substitute for pears.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.
Verdict: I love this salad. Since I first created it, I’ve made it so many times!
Husband’s take: Ben could take or leave a kale salad, to be honest. He liked this one without the onions, though.
Changes I would make: None, but try some of the fun ideas we mentioned above. I’ve also added chicken to it for an even more filling salad.