Autumn Kale Salad with Honey Apple Vinaigrette

If you went apple picking over the weekend, you are likely looking for some ways to use up all your apples. Today’s recipe will help you do that! It’s a kale salad inspired by fall flavors, and I think it will be the perfect candidate for your lunchbox this week.

Autumn Kale Salad with Honey Apple Vinaigrette

Now before you kale haters just stop reading further into this post, I am telling you. If you hate kale, it is because you are not preparing it correctly ahead of time. Just give it one more try with this recipe, and perhaps I convince you?

Autumn Kale Salad with Honey Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Serves 4 as a main meal or 6-8 as a side dish

Ingredients

For the salad:

  • 1 very large bunch of kale or 1-2 smaller bunches of kale
  • 2 medium sized apples, cut into semi-circle rounds
  • 1/2 cup pecans (or other nut of choice)
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

For the dressing:

  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp raw honey
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

For the chicken, optional:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (Note: Using two chicken breasts will more chicken than what you will need for this salad. Use 2 if you want leftover chicken to use in other dishes throughout the week. If you only want enough for the kale salad, only use one and keep the rest of the ingredients below the same).
  • 1/2 – 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 tbsp crushed red pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Autumn Kale Salad with Honey Apple Vinaigrette

Directions

1. To prepare the chicken: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cover the bottom of a roasting pan with a quarter to a half inch of chicken broth. Add the chicken breasts, crushed red pepper, garlic cloves, and bay leaf to the chicken broth. Bake for around 50 minutes or internal temperature of the chicken is 160 degrees F. Let cool, and shred into pieces with a fork.

2. To prepare the dressing: Whisk together the extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. This will prepare 1 cup of dressing.

3. To prepare the kale: Use a knife to remove the tough ribs from the kale, then discard the ribs. Chop the kale leaves into small, bite-sized pieces, then transfer the chopped kale to a big salad bowl. Pour the cup of the dressing over the kale leaves, then sprinkle an extra pinch of sea salt over the kale. Massage the leaves with your hands by gently scrunching big handfuls at a time until the leaves are darker in color and dressing is well spread.

4. To prepare the final salad: If serving right away, add the rest of the salad toppings (nuts, dried cranberries, sliced apples) and shredded chicken to the massaged and dressed kale. Toss well, and let sit 10 minutes before serving. If packing up lunches for the week, divide the kale into separate containers, then top with the shredded chicken, nuts, dried cranberries, and apples. This will store well for a couple of days covered in the fridge!

Autumn Kale Salad with Honey Apple Vinaigrette

I love, love, love all the fall flavors going on in this dish. The honey and apple vinaigrette is a nice change of pace from our usual balsamic or lemon based dressings, and the sweetness of it contrasts nicely with the kale. The pecans and apples add a nice crunch to the salad, and the chicken is very flavorful for such an easy preparation method. To make this recipe vegetarian, skip the chicken and replace it with a protein packed grain. We will often make this salad with quinoa, farro, or barley instead of the chicken, and it’s just as delicious! Non-vegans, goat cheese would also be a wonderful addition.

Autumn Kale Salad with Honey Apple Vinaigrette

If you make this for lunch or dinner, I would love to hear how it turns out for you. I’m due for another round of my You Made It, You Did It series too, so leave a comment on this blog post or share a picture on social media tagging me @fitnessandfeta and you could be featured.

Readers, let’s chat! What are you making with all of your apples this year? How do you like to prepare kale? 

For more apple recipe inspiration, check out the post I wrote last year on meal and snack ideas to use up apples. I see my in our near future for sure!