Baby Kale Salad with Apples tossed with a sweet and tangy cider dressing. The combination of textures and flavors work perfectly. A lovely salad that will pair easily with any fall entree you’re serving.
Baby Kale Salad Recipe
This recipe is compliments of the now shuttered Next Door Eatery, owner, Kimball Musk. The restaurant opened in Highlands Ranch in 2018, and as a member of the local food press industry I was invited to attend the grand opening.
We were treated to an array of samples from the menu, which included this recipe for Baby Kale Salad with Honey Cider Vinaigrette.
The tart crunch of Granny Smith Apples, the mild and slightly peppery flavor of baby kale, and the creamy feta cheese are a perfect base for the tart sweet vinaigrette. The cheese used in this salad is local feta, from Jumpin’ Good Goat Dairy in Buena Vista, CO.
It’s a perfect example of clever and wholesome recipes that are so easy to make in your own kitchen.
For this salad to be successful, baby kale is a necessity, due to its delicate flavor and tender texture compared to the tougher mature variety, which can prove to be a bit ornery to tame.
Raw kale, a nutritious powerhouse, is one of the healthiest things you can eat. However, it has the reputation of bringing an undesirable flavor and texture eaten raw. But a good kale salad, properly prepared can be very pleasurable on the palate.
The different types of kale available for purchase are curly kale, which is dark green with slightly curly leaves. It has a pungent peppery flavor, rough texture and is more suited for cooking.
Lacinato Kale (Tuscan Kale) is darker in color and has longer leaves. Slightly sweeter and with a softer texture, it’s more suited for salads once the stems and ribs are removed from the leaves.
Baby Kale, is also a nutritious powerhouse, and both the small stems and leaves of baby kale are edible. With a milder flavor, yet still peppery with flavor, its readily available in the produce section, pre-washed and ready to serve. With much less prep.
I like this article by Tasting Table regarding the different varieties of Kale.
Let’s take a look:
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Baby Kale
- Granny Smith Apples
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Feta Cheese
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Apple Juice
- Salt and Ground Black Pepper
- Sunflower Seeds
- Apples: Choose any variety of tart apple, Pink Lady would be a good substitute and is easily found in supermarkets. But try to stick with Granny Smith. The lime green color of a Granny Smith Apple compliments the dark green color of the Baby Kale.
- Cheese: Feta cheese with it’s tangy, salty and superb crumbling abilities is preferred for this salad. But if you’re like me and always have Cotija Cheese, a Mexican Crumbling Cheese on hand. It will work well here.
- Seeds: Pine Nuts will work well as a substitution for Sunflower Seeds.
How To Make This Baby Kale Salad, It’s Easy.
- Step 1: Using a garlic press, crush the clove of garlic into a wooden salad bowl and thoroughly rub it around the surface. A trick I learned in Culinary School, it simply adds a subtle but magical garlic flavor to the salad.
- Step 2: Prepare the Honey Cider Vinaigrette: Combine the oil, vinegar, apple juice, honey, salt and pepper in a jar that you can shake vigorously to combine. Set aside. You’ll shake it again right before serving.
- Step 3: Add the baby kale to the salad bowl. If making ahead, you can refrigerate the kale until ready to dress. If serving immediately, proceed and add remaining ingredients.
- Step 4: Add enough dressing to generously coat the baby kale leaves, add the apples and toss to coat ingredients with the dressing. Add sunflower seeds and feta cheese and serve in a shallow bowl that will showcase the salad well.
Yes, every single ingredient in this recipe is naturally gluten free.
Make Ahead And Storage
- Baby Kale is a very sturdy green. You can make this salad up to an hour ahead of time, complete with vinaigrette, without worry of the greens wilting.
- As far as storage leftovers, I’ve never been a fan. Once dressed, even kale won’t fare well in the refrigerator overnight. The acid in vinaigrette simply will wilt any greens and ingredients.
Baby Kale Salad Recipe
This is a photo of the Baby Kale Salad provided by the restaurant. Served with a Fall Cocktail, all that’s missing is a fork.
The Baby Kale Salad with Apples is a delightful and healthy option that will satisfy your cravings for something both nutritious and delicious. It’s a salad that’s perfect for any season, and its vibrant colors and flavors will brighten up your dinner table.
Serve this with Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Bourbon Peach Compote for an impressive Fall entree.
More Popular Salad Recipes
And if you’re salad fans like us, don’t miss my post on 9 Secrets To A Remarkable Tossed Salad. A step by step guide on how to make the best tossed salad ever.
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This post was originally published in October 0f 2018, and updated and republished November 2023 to add step by step instructions.
Baby Kale Salad with Cider Vinaigrette
- 1 clove garlic pressed through a garlic press or fine diced.
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 cups baby kale rinsed and dried
- 1 tablespoon fresh whole leaf parsley fine chopped
- For The Salad
- 4 tablespoons Apple cider or apple juice
- 4 tablespoons Apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 2 teaspoon honey
- fresh ground pepper to taste
- 2 granny smith apples washed, cored and cut in slices
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- Sprinkle the chopped garlic into your salad bowl. Rub the garlic into the bottom and sides of bowl.
- Wash greens well and dry. Place the kale and parsley into the bowl.
- Prepare the dressing by adding all of the ingredients into a Mason style jar. Shake very well until ingredients are emulsified. Or make the dressing in a large bowl that you can whisk until combined.
- Pour this mixture over the greens and toss until combined.
- Add apple slices. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds and feta. Serve immediately.
Baby Kale Salad … It’s What’s For Dinner
Why Trust These Recipes? Lea Ann Brown has lived, worked and played in Colorado for 45 years. She has immersed herself in the Colorado Culinary space, is a Culinary School Graduate and publishes her Colorado food Blog, Cooking On The Ranch.