Citrus and Pomegranate Kale Salad

Sweet clementine oranges, juicy pomegranates and tender kale are tossed in a simple honey-lemon vinaigrette and topped with toasted pepitas! This seasonal salad is sure to become a favorite in no time!

I’ll be honest, when I first made this citrus and pomegranate kale salad I had no idea how popular it was going to be. I just thought “these ingredients all sound good together so why not give it a try? …Right?!” And let me tell you loves – Best. Desicion. Ever! This is by far the most requested recipe I get from all my family and friends and it’s so easy to see why. It’s simple to make, full of so many different flavors and textures and pairs well with just about everything. So if you’re looking for a side dish to impress your guests this holiday season, then honey this it it!

Ingredients

  • Kale: Provides a sturdy base for the rest of your ingredients and is mild in flavor too.
  • Clementine oranges: Brings a burst of freshness to your salad! (Can also be replaced with regular oranges or blood oranges.)
  • Pomegrante arils: Adds a seasonal/festtive touch and also compliments the flavor of your oranges.
  • Toasted pepitas: Adds a little bit of crunch while also providing a slight nutty flavor too. (Can be replaced with pecans or de-shelled sunflower seeds. Follow the same directions for toasted below.)
  • Honey-lemon vinaigrette: Ties all of your ingredients together!

Massaging the kale

This step is crucial to any kale salad because it makes the kale softer and much easier to eat. (If you’ve ever had an unmassaged kale salad before then chances are you probably hated it…and now hate kale forever… But wait – we’re going to change all of that!)

So how do you massage kale? So easy! Simply cut the kale leaves off the ribs (stems) and chop the leaves into small bite sized pieces. Place these pieces in a large bowl and drizzle 1 tsp of olive oil over them. (You can also spray the pieces with avocado oil spray if you have it too.) Then take 1/2 a lemon and squeeze the juice over the kale pieces. Using your hands, rub the kale together between your fingers and deeply “massage it”. Massage the kale for 5 minutes or until it starts to soften and turn a bright green color.

*You’ll also know that kale is “fully massaged” because it tends to “shrink” after being softened.

How to cut a pomegranate

Next, we’re talking poms! Now of course you don’t have to use a fresh pomegranate for this recipe by any means; store bought deseeded pomegranates are just fine. BUT if you’re looking for a fool proof way to deseed a fresh one, then I gotchu babe! 😉

Pomegranates are a sectional fruit, which basically means that all you have to do to get to the arils inside is to divide it into sections. So how do you deseed a pomegranate? Well the way that I’ve found to be the most useful for me (and works every time) is listed below:

  1. Cut the bottom off of the pomegranate so that it sits flat on the cutting board. Then take your knife and at the top of the fruit carve out the “stem” in a circular motion.
  2. From there, cut a slit from the top of the pomegranate to the bottom on one side of the fruit but be careful not to cut all the way through the skin. Continue making 4-5 slits like this all the way around the pomegranate. (These are your “sections”)
  3. Then gently pull one of the sections off and lightly press on the seeds to loosen them from the insides until they fall off. It’s best to do this over a bowl.
  4. Continue until all the arils are deseeded.

*Side Note: This can get a bit messy! (Aprons are usually a necessity 🙂 )

Toasting the pepitas

First off, what the heck is a pepita?! So glad you asked! In simple terms, pepitas are just pumpkin seeds that have been harvested from a specific type of pumpkin. (Hence the reason they look different from normal pumpkin seeds.) But they have such a great flavor and are a lovely addition to salads and other dishes.

Ok now onto the toasting!

This step is completely optional – but I personally think it can also be a huge game changer too! Toasting the pepitas not only brings a smokey nutty flavor to the salad, but it also makes them a little crunchier too. (Is crunchier a word? …I’m not really sure but for today’s sake, let’s just go with it.) But the best part is that you can use the directions below to toast any kind of nut or seed.

  1. Spread the pepitas out in a single layer on a baking sheet that’s been lined with parchment paper.
  2. Bake them at 375 degrees for 5-6 minutes or until the seeds start to turn slightly brown.
  3. Let them cool completely on the tray before storing them in an air tight container.

BAM! How easy was that?!

Need even more reasons to love this citrus and pomegranate kale salad?

  • It’s easy and festive which makes it the perfect side dish for all those holiday parties and potlucks coming up!
  • Keeps well for days so you can easily prep it over the weekend to have for a quick lunch during the week.
  • It’s absolutely gorgeous to look at and guaraunteed to fanci-fy any dinner spread! (And yes I did just make that word up. 😉 )

I hope you love this citrus and pomegranate kale salad just as much as we do!

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[Made one of my recipes? Make sure to tag my social media @kalefornia_kravings – I love seeing what you create!]

Citrus and Pomegranate Kale Salad

Sweet clementine oranges, juicy pomegranates and tender kale are tossed in a simple honey-lemon vinaigrette and topped with toasted pepitas! This seasonal salad is sure to become a favorite in no time!
Prep Time15 mins
Total Time15 mins
Course: Meatless, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Dairy free, Gluten free, Healthy, Paleo
Keyword: citrus, easy, healthy, honey lemon vinaigrette, kale, pomegranate, salad, side dish
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Caitlin

Ingredients

For the kale salad:

  • 1 bundle of kale, ribs removed and leaves chopped
  • 5-6 clementine oranges, peeled, sectioned and cut in half
  • 1 cup pomegranate arils
  • Handful of pepitas* (See directions for toasting below)
  • ½ of a lemon
  • Extra light tasting olive oil (or your favorite olive oil)

For the honey lemon vinaigrette:

  • 2 lemons
  • 4 tsps honey
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Cracked black pepper

Instructions

To make the honey lemon vinaigrette:

  • Juice the lemons into a small bowl. Add the honey, olive oil and about 3-4 cracks of black pepper. Whisk it together and set is aside.

To make the kale salad:

  • Place the kale in a large bowl. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over the kale and squeeze ½ the lemon over it. Using your hands, massage the kale for 5 minutes or until it softens and starts to turn dark green.
  • Add the chopped clementine slices and pomegranate arils and pour the vinaigrette over the top. Toss and serve with pepitas.

Notes

To toast the pepitas: Spread the pepitas out on a baking sheet that’s been lined with parchment paper. Bake at 375 degrees for 5-6 minutes or until they’re slightly brown. 
*You can also use sunflower seeds, pecans or even walnuts to replace the pepitas. (Follow the same toasting directions above for each nut/seed.) 

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