Lemon Garlic Kale Salad

by KetoFocus.com
5 Stars (1 Reviews) 2 Comments

This Lemon Garlic Kale Salad is an effortless, flavor-packed side dish that comes together quickly with simple ingredients like kale, toasted almonds, parmesan, and a homemade zesty lemon-garlic dressing, making it ideal for last-minute potlucks, cookouts, or any casual meal.

Sometimes simple, everyday ingredients can create maximum flavor. Similar to a Caesar salad with a dressing that has a perfect balance of salt, acid and fat, this kale salad recipe with lemon garlic dressing is no exception.

Toss fresh kale salad from baby kale leaves, toasted almond slices and parmesan cheese on a plate with lemon slices.

You just need a handful of ingredients, many of which you probably already have sitting in your pantry or refrigerator – like lemon juice, olive oil, salt, garlic, parmesan cheese and almonds. You just might need to pick up some raw kale or just use your favorite salad mix if kale salads are your thing.

But the simplicity and minimal effort aren’t the only reasons to love this salad, this dish is my go-to when headed to a potluck or cookout. Not only is it a powerhouse of zesty flavor that most everyone will enjoy, but can easily be assembled right before serving as long as you make the dressing up ahead of time.


How to make kale salad

  1. Toast sliced almonds in a skillet over medium heat. Set aside.
  2. Make lemon garlic salad dressing. Add olive oil, lemon juice, salt and smash garlic to a mason jar. Shake to combine and let sit for at least 5-10 minutes. The longer the best as you get that garlic infused flavor.
  3. Toss baby kale leaves, toasted almonds, grated parmesan cheese and dressing until coated and right before serving.

Kale Salad Recipe Video

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Lemon Garlic Kale Salad Ingredients

  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ⅓ cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 5-8 oz baby kale leaves or chopped kale
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Lemon Garlic Kale Salad Directions

  • Lemon Garlic Kale Salad
  • Close up of kale salad tossed with grated parmesan cheese and nut with lemon slices placed on top.

    How to prepare kale for salads

    If you choose not to use prepared baby kale leaves, you will need to prep your kale before making your salad. Follow these easy steps:

    1. Wash the kale – Rinse the raw kale leaves thoroughly under cold water to remove any dirt or germs. Let dry.
    2. Remove the stems – Since kale stems can be tough and fibrous, you don’t want to eat them in this salad. To remove, hold the kale leaf in one hand and use the other to strip the leafy part from the stem in a downward motion. You can use a knife to cut out the stems which can be easier.
    3. Massage the kale – Since kale leaves can be tough, you may need to help break down the cell walls by massing the kale. Usually just rubbing the leaves in your hands for a few minutes will work. But adding the chopped kale to the dressing ahead of time can do this as well. The acid in the salad dressing can help break down the fibrous kale leaves.
    4. Chop the kale – Using a knife, cut the kale into bite-sized pieces. Or make shredded kale but cutting in thin strips.

    Best types of kale for salads

    Baby kale

    This is the kale used in pictures for this kale salad recipe. Baby kale is the young, tender leaves of the kale plant that are collected before the plant matures. Since it’s harvested early, baby kale has a milder, less bitter flavor and a more tender texture compared to mature kale.

    It doesn’t require massaging the leaves like other varieties do since it is already tender. The downside is that you can’t dress the salad ahead of time because it will wilt quicker. That’s why you want to serve it right after tossing the dressing.

    Tuscan or dinosaur kale

    Also known as Lacinato kale, this kale variety has long, flat, and slightly wrinkled leaves that are a dark bluish-green coloring. It’s called dinosaur kale because the leaves resemble the skin of a dinosaur. The flavor of this kale is mild with a hint of sweetness and almost nutty.

    Curly kale

    Curly kale is usually what most people picture when they think of kale. It is bright green with ruffled, curly leaves. The flavor is slightly bitter and peppery, which usually pair perfectly with sweet or zesty, salty dressings. The leaves are fibrous and crunchy.

    Looking down onto a platter with fresh lemon garlic kale salad topped with almonds and parmesan cheese by freshly squeezed lemons, garlic and dressing.

    Tasty add-ins

    The combination of the tangy lemon, zesty garlic, nutty almonds and salty parmesan cheese provide incredible flavor to this easy summer salad. But you can add other ingredients to your salad for different flavors.

    Here’s some to try:

    • Dried cranberries – give a chewy texture and hint of sweetness
    • Poppy seeds – for flavor and appearance
    • Diced red onion – give extra crunch and zest
    • Diced bell pepper – for crunch and flavor, experiment with different colors of bell peppers.
    • Cooked chicken – for protein to turn this side dish into a full meal
    • Avocado – for extra flavor and fat
    • Different cheeses – try goat cheese or feta cheese
    • Maple syrup – use a splash of sugar free maple syrup for a hint of sweetness
    • Different nuts – don’t have almonds, try toasted pine nuts, pecans or even walnuts!

    Storage information & make ahead instructions

    When it comes to salads with the dressing tossed in, it’s best to consume them right away if you are using baby kale leaves. Otherwise the leaves get soggy since the moisture and acids in the lemon vinaigrette dressing start to break down the fibers in the kale or lettuce leaves.

    If you want to make it ahead of time…

    However, there are components of this kale recipe that can be made ahead of time.

    The almond can be toasted ahead of time and stored in an air tight container or ziploc baggie for up to 4 days. Using the almonds shortly after toasting is ideal as they will be at peak roasted freshness and have more flavor.

    The lemon garlic vinaigrette dressing can be prepared ahead of time as well. Store in the refrigerator for several days. The longer the garlic steeps, the more garlic flavor the dressing will have.


    Lemon Garlic Kale Salad: FAQS

    Can I use pre-grated parmesan cheese or should I grate it fresh?

    For convenience, I use pre-grated parmesan cheese; however, if you have the time, freshly grated parmesan cheese yields a more pronounce flavor and creamier texture.

    What kind of kale is best for this salad? Can I use any type of kale?

    For convenience, I use a small carton or package of baby kale leaves. Plus you don't have to do anything to prepare the leaves like you do with other varieties of kale. However, you can experiment with other types of kale in this salad recipe.

    Nutritional information & Macros

    Nutrition Information

    Lemon Garlic Kale Salad

    Servings: 8

    Amount Per Serving
    Calories 213
    Fat 19.6g
    Protein 6.7g
    Total Carbs 2.9g
    Net Carbs 2.4g

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