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Hearty kale, juicy pomegranate, a sprinkle of feta, and a tangy lemon pomegranate dressing make this simple kale pomegranate salad so bright and festive!
Let’s face it, salads often get overlooked during the holiday season. But I never put together a holiday meal without having at least one fresh green salad on the menu to balance out the heavier sides.
In my opinion, a good salad can be just as satisfying as any other dish on the table. This kale pomegranate salad is a great example – it’s full of fresh flavors, crunchy textures, bright colors, and tastes as good as it looks on your holiday dinner table!
I’m always looking for new ways to sneak kale into our diets, too! It’s such a nutritious and versatile green. This kale apple smoothie is my favorite way to hide a lot of raw kale in a delicious nutrition-packed smoothie. The apples make it so sweet and refreshing, and you can’t even taste the kale!
Of course, there are also plenty of delicious ways to enjoy kale in salads. This apple pecan salad or this roasted sweet potato and feta salad, which are both packed with autumnal flavors. But one of my all-time favorite kale salads is this winter kale pomegranate salad.
This fall salad is perfect for a light lunch or dinner, and it’s also a great side dish for the holiday table. You may just convert some kale skeptics (as a former kale skeptic myself, I would know ;)).
Why You’ll Love this Kale Pomegranate Salad
It’s meal prep friendly. This salad is the perfect side dish for your holiday meal because you can whisk the dressing together and prep the salad ingredients ahead of time, and then just toss everything together a few minutes before serving.
OR skip the massaging of the kale, toss it with the dressing and store it dressed. The acid in the vinaigrette will break down and soften the fibers in the leaves. It can be stored this way for 2-3 days.
It’s a healthy holiday side dish. This kale pomegranate salad is a great way to add some healthy greens to your holiday table. Kale is a good source of vitamins and minerals, and pomegranate seeds are packed with antioxidants.
And the best part is that this easy winter salad won’t take up any space on your stove while you’re cooking up the rest of the meal.
It has the perfect combination of flavors. The sweetness of the pomegranate seeds perfectly balances the bitterness of the kale, while the salty feta cheese adds a touch of salty richness. The toasted pecans provide a crunchy contrast, and the bright lemon dressing brings all the ingredients together.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
Curly kale is the most common type of kale, and it has a distinctive dark green color and ruffled leaves. It has a slightly peppery flavor and is a good source of vitamins A, C, and K.
All types of kale can be used in this kale pomegranate salad, but some varieties are better suited for raw consumption than others. Curly kale, Lacinato kale or dinosaur kale, and baby kale are all good choices for raw kale salad recipes. Redbor kale is better suited for cooked salads, as it has a slightly bitter flavor that mellows when cooked.
How to Use Kale
Opt for curly kale that has a lively green color and firm leaves. Avoid kale leaves that appear wilted or have yellow or brown spots.
Massaging kale leaves helps break down the fibers, making it more tender and palatable.To massage kale, you simply squeeze and gently rub the leaves with your fingers for a couple of minutes. You’ll notice that the leaves will get softer and darker green as you do this.
Alternatively, since we’re using an acidic dressing, instead of massaging the kale, you can simply toss it with the dressing about 30 minutes ahead of serving the salad. The acid will help break down the tough fibers, which will also have the effect of softening the kale.
Finally, kale stems are tough, so it’s best to remove them before using it in salads. Simply cut along the stem to remove it, using a sharp knife.
Don’t forget to watch the video!
Most of my recipes include a short step-by-step video tutorial. Just scroll down to the recipe card, or use the “Jump to Video” button at the top of the post!
Toasted pecans add a nutty flavor, a satisfying crunch, and a touch of richness to the kale pomegranate salad. The toasting process enhances their aroma and deepens their flavor.
To toast pecans, spread them out evenly on a baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Toast the pecans for about 10 minutes, or until they are fragrant and lightly browned. Keep an eye on them to prevent burning.
If you don’t have pecans, you can substitute them with other crunchy nuts, such as walnuts, almonds, or hazelnuts. Each nut has its own distinct flavor, so choose one that you enjoy.
Alternatively, for even more Mediterranean flavor and crunch, top the salad with some easy baked za’atar pita chips.
Feta cheese is a brined cheese with a salty, tangy flavor that complements the sweetness of the pomegranate arils and the earthy notes of the kale in this kale pomegranate salad recipe.
Feta can be substituted with soft, creamy goat cheese crumbles, or a hard salty cheese like Parmesan, if you prefer.
Pomegranate arils, the edible seeds of the pomegranate, add a burst of sweet and tart flavor to the salad. They’re also a good source of vitamins C and K, as well as antioxidants.
How to Take Out Pomegranate Seeds
To extract the pomegranate arils, cut it in half and gently tap the rind with a spoon to loosen the arils. They will fall out with some coaxing. You can also submerge the pomegranate halves in a bowl of water and loosen the arils under water. You can watch this video for more guidance.
Fresh lemon juice adds a bright acidity to the dressing, balancing out the sweetness of the pomegranate molasses and the richness of the feta cheese.
Olive oil is the base of the salad dressing, providing a rich, flavorful medium for the other ingredients to blend together. It also adds a dose of healthy fats to the salad.
Pomegranate molasses is a thick syrup made from pomegranate juice, providing a unique sweet-tart flavor to the dressing. It’s a key ingredient in Middle Eastern cuisine and can be found in well-stocked grocery stores, specialty stores or online.
If pomegranate molasses is unavailable, you can substitute it with honey or maple syrup for a similar sweetening effect.
Finely chop the shallot using a sharp knife to ensure it evenly disperses throughout the dressing and adds a subtle sweet-onion flavor without overpowering the other ingredients in the kale pomegranate salad.
If you don’t have shallots, you can substitute them with a tablespoon of minced yellow or red onion. The flavor will be slightly stronger, but it will still work well in the salad dressing.
Step By Step Instructions
1. Add your shallot, lemon juice, and pomegranate molasses to a small bowl and whisk well.
2. Now slowly pour in the olive oil while whisking it until it is emulsified. Season the dressing with salt and black pepper.
3. Remove the kale stems from the curly kale and tear the kale leaves into bite-sized pieces.
4. Put the kale in a large bowl and massage the kale leaves for about a minute or so.
5. Now drizzle the salad dressing over the kale and toss to combine.
6. Add the toasted pecans, feta cheese, and pomegranate arils over the kale leaves and serve.
Your kale pomegranate salad is done. It is THAT easy. A big reason why this is my favorite Christmas salad – because I can just make it in 15 minutes.
To maintain the freshness and texture, store leftover dressed kale pomegranate salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator. This will help to prevent the kale from wilting and the pomegranate arils from drying out. It will last for up to 2 days in the refrigerator.
If you have leftover salad dressing, you can store it separately in airtight container and it will last for about 5 days. The dressing may separate slightly due to the oil content. To recombine the dressing, simply shake the container vigorously before serving.
Try it with these
You can also turn this kale pomegranate salad into a hearty main by adding a lean protein like chicken breast on top.
More Easy Winter Salad Recipes
Kale Pomegranate Salad
Tools for This Recipe
- 1 bunch curly kale about 8 oz
- 1/2 cup toasted pecans
- 1/4 cup feta cheese
- arils from 1 pomegranate
Lemon Pomegranate Vinaigrette
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice freshly squeezed
- 1 tablespoon shallot finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses can substitute honey or maple syrup
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- black pepper to taste
- In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, shallot, and pomegranate molasses. Slowly stream in the olive oil while whisking until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.
- Remove the stems for the kale by slicing along them on both sides. Tear the leaves into bite size pieces. Add the kale to a large bowl and massage it for about 30 seconds or so by squeezing it tightly and rubbing it in your hands.
- Drizzle dressing to taste over the kale and toss to combine.
- Sprinkle toasted pecans, feta, and pomegranate arils over the salad and serve.