Apple White Cheddar & Toasted Pecan Kale Salad

Sweet, savory and everything in between! This tasty apple salad is the perfect compliment to any meal! (Or even delicious on it’s own too!)

This apple and white cheddar salad is the perfect side dish for any occasion! It's sweet, tangy and has the perfect amount of crunch too!

Officially dubbing this the year of kale salads as my blog seems to be filling up by the second with them… But they’re so good and so versatile that it’s hard for me to stop! So we’re welcoming yet another salad to the group today that’s going to make sweet and savory lovers (like me) get their happy dance on! Trust me loves, this apple white cheddar and toasted pecan kale salad is unlike anything you’ve ever tasted before! It’s sweet, tangy, slightly salty and has a whole lotta crunch!

Crisp apples and juicy pomegranate arils, tender kale, white cheddar cheese and toasted pecans are all you need to make this delicious fall inspired salad! Plus it's made with a tangy maple-mustard dressing too!

Ingredients

  • Apples: Adds sweetness and a little bit of crunch. (I used envy apples for my salad. See below for more details. You can find a wide variety of apples at your local Sprouts this season too which are always a fun addition to any sweet and savory dish!)
  • Cheddar cheese: Adds a savory component to your to salad and compliments the sweetness of the apples.
  • Pomegranate arils: Adds a little extra pop of flavor. (Plus it makes the salad look so pretty too! 😉 )
  • Toasted pecans: Adds crunch and gives your salad that little extra somethin’!
  • Kale: Provides a sturdy base for all of your ingredients
  • Maple-mustard dressing: Ties is all together and balances out the flavors!
A healthier side salad that packed full of flavor! This sweet and and tangy kale salad is loaded with fresh seasonal ingredients and is sure to become a favorite of yours soon!

What type of apples should you use for this salad?

I would suggest using a sweeter apple that has a really good bite to it. That’s why I love using Envy apples for this type salad because they’re incredibly crisp and still have a slightly sweet flavor to them too. Plus they also stay white after being cut so they’ll still look pretty in your salad even hours later! (A HUGE entertaining win if you ask me! 😉 )

I always buy my apples at Sprouts because they have the best fresh produce and I’m able to find varieties there that I’ve never seen anywhere else.

How to massage kale

Want to know the key to a great kale salad? MASSAGE. YOUR. KALE! If you’re not familiar with that term, I’m sure this sounds extremely weird to you right now but trust me, it makes all the difference! Massaging the kale leaves helps to soften it making it easier to eat and also brings out the kale’s mild flavor. Here’s how easy it is below:

  1. Cut the kale leaves off the stem or “rib”. Then cut the leaves into bite sized pieces.
  2. Drizzle 1 Tbsp of your dressing over the kale. (Or you can use 1 Tbsp of olive oil instead but I like to “infuse” the kale with my salad dressing flavor.)
  3. Rub the kale together with your hands to fully incorporate the dressing/olive oil throughout. Do this for 5 minutes. (The kale should begin to soften and turn a bright vibrant green color. You’ll also notice that the amount of kale you have will “shrink” as well.)
  4. At this point, the kale can be stored in the fridge until your ready to make your salad.
Whether it's served as a side dish or as a light lunch or dinner, this delicious apple salad is sure to be a crowd pleaser!

How to make an easy maple-mustard dressing

I’m all about simple when it comes to salad dressings, which is why most of my dressings are usually only 4, maybe 5 ingredients. But you can bet that they’re 100% LOADED with flavor too! Just like this simple maple-mustard dressing! It’s sweet, slightly tangy and is the perfect way to tie together this sweet and savory salad! Here’s how to make it below:

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (I like using Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil because it’s not so heavy and doesn’t have a thick oily taste)
  • 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup (DO NOT use “pancake syrup” like Aunt Jemima for this!)
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp djion mustard
  1. Whisk all of these ingredients together in a small bowl and pour them over your apple and white cheddar kale salad whenever you’re ready to eat!

You can also store this dressing in a plastic container or jar in the fridge for up to 1 week.

A quick and easy salad recipe that takes no time at all to make too! It's the perfect salad for sweet and savory lovers!

How to make toasted pecans

Every great salad always needs some texture and one of my favorite ways to do that is by sprinkling some toasted nuts over the top. Toasting helps to crisp up the nuts giving them a crunchier bite AND also brings out their natural flavor more too! (Plus they’re great to snack on while you’re preparing the rest of your salad. 😉 )

  • Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Then spread your pecans out on the baking sheet and bake them for 5-6 minutes or until they just start to darken. Take them out of the oven to cool and store them in an airtight container until you’re ready to eat!

You can also toast other nuts this way too! Try it with almonds, walnuts or even pepitas!

I can’t wait to hear what you think about this apple and cheddar kale salad! Hope you’re all having a great day loves!

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Apple, White Cheddar & Toasted Pecan Salad

Crisp apples, pomegranates arils, white cheddar cheese and tender kale is all tossed together in a maple-mustard dressing and topped with toasted pecans! It's a sweet and savory salad lover's dream!
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: apple, cheese, gluten free, kale salad, side dish, toasted pecans, white cheddar
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Caitlin Monson

Ingredients

For the salad:

  • 1 bunch of kale, leaves cut of the stem & cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 Envy apples, chopped (or your favorite sweet apple)
  • ½ cup pomegranate arils
  • 4 oz. white cheddar, cut into cubes (or small slices)
  • 1 cup pecans

For the maple mustard dressing:

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (I use extra light tasting olive oil)
  • 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup (NOT pancake syrup like Aunt Jemima)
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard

Instructions

To make the dressing:

  • Whisk all of your ingredients together in a small bowl. Set it aside while you prepare the rest of your salad.

To toast the pecans:

  • Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread your pecans out on the baking sheet and bake for 5-6 minutes or until they just start to darken. Take them out of the oven to cool and store them in an airtight container until you’re ready to eat.

To make the salad:

  • Massage the kale leaves in 1 Tbsp of your dressing (or 1 Tbsp of olive oil) for at least 5 minutes. Then add your apples, cheddar cheese and pomegranates and toss in your remaining dressing. Sprinkle some toasted pecans over the top right before serving!

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