This strawberry kale salad is sweet summer perfection. Tough bitter kale is transformed into velvety tenderness with a simple trick, and will entice even the staunchest kale haters. Mint and blue cheese elevate this healthy salad into a restaurant quality meal that you can make at home in just 20 minutes.
This recipe was originally published May 13, 2017. It was updated on June 18, 2019 with new photos, recipe modifications, and additional content.
If you think you don’t like kale, this is the recipe that might take you from “no freaking way” to “maybe we can be friends”. A quick and simple treatment transforms tough guy kale into a tamer, dare I say luxurious, version of it’s former self that even the staunchest kale haters can’t resist (and I count myself as a former member of that tribe!).
This strawberry kale salad is everything I want in a meal – a little bit of sweet, a little bit of salt, and quick enough to go from fridge to belly in under 30 minutes. It’s also super versatile, and a serious nutritional powerhouse. It’s packed with vitamins, fiber and protein, and the perfect summer meal for any day of the week.
Serve it as-is as a side salad next to just about anything, or toss with simple grilled chicken or seared salmon for a complete meal.
Strawberry Kale Salad Ingredients
As with most fresh dinner salads, the ingredient list here is pretty short, so use the freshest and best quality ingredients you can afford. This is a terrific recipe for using up odds and ends from a CSA box or for taming the mint plant in your garden.
Kale: I like lacinato kale for this salad. It’s also called tuscan kale. I have a tough time finding this varietal at chain grocery stores, but I can always find it at my coop, farmer’s market, and Whole Foods. Curly kale is a great substitute and it’s widely available. The prep remains the same regardless of which kale type you use, but since curly kale is slightly more bitter, massage it a little longer to properly release the natural sugars.
Spinach: I like to toss in a little spinach for nutritional variance and to soften the flavor of the kale. I went for mature, or large-leaf spinach, to match the heartiness of the kale. Again, this can be a little tough to find in regular grocery stores, so ask a produce attendant for help (it’s often bagged and pre-chopped) or seek it directly from a farmer’s market or Whole Foods. You can totally use baby spinach too.
Strawberries: Fresh is best here (duh!) and you definitely want to reserve this recipe for when berries are at their peak.
Snap Peas: Raw snap peas add a really nice crunch to the salad. Cameron found them a bit chewy (I liked it), so if you’re hesitant, opt for snow peas, which are softer and sweeter.
English Cucumber: Pretty self-explanatory, eh? I didn’t both peeling or seeding the cucumber, but you can if you like. You can also substitute two persian cucumbers.
Mint: Fresh chopped mint is a really nice foil to kale, and brings that extra level of flavor to elevate this salad to “um, wowza” status.
Blue Cheese: Tangy, salty blue cheese is perfect. I love the flavor contrast with the sweet strawberries and acidic vinaigrette. If you’re not a fan of blue, substitute goat cheese or feta.
Almonds: Slivered almonds bring a little more crunch and an extra pop of protein. And what’s an entree salad without nuts?
How to Make Strawberry Kale Salad
This strawberry kale is sweet summer perfection. Massaging kale leaves with balsamic dressing softens both the texture and it’s bitter edge, resulting in velvety tender bites that pair perfectly with sweet strawberries, fresh mint, and tangy balsamic vinaigrette.
Let’s start with a note about preparing the kale. Kale can be a little, you know, tough – literally. It’s chewy and fairly bitter as far as greens go, but fear not – we’re gonna tame that kale into sweet, tender submission by massaging it with a little vinaigrette. Yes, I know how dirty that sounds. No I’m not sorry.
Start by removing the worst of the worst – the dreaded rib. This is actually super easy. Lay a kale leaf flat on a cutting board, then run the tip of a paring knife down each side of the stem. Pluck out the stem and discard. DONE.
Once you’re removed all of the ribs, chop the kale into bite sized pieces.
Make the balsamic vinaigrette, then combine about a quarter cup of dressing with the chopped kale. Using your very clean hands, dig in and get dirty. Crunch the kale between your hands, working the dressing into the greens. Don’t go overboard here, about 2-3 minutes of gentle work should get the job done. The friction from the massage will break down the fibers and soften the kale into a pleasantly chewy bite.
See? Soft(er) and luxurious kale. Swoon.
Add the remaining ingredients to the massaged kale – chopped spinach, strawberries, cucumber, snap peas, mint, blue cheese, and almonds, and add a little extra dressing too – another quarter cup should be plenty.
Toss the ingredients until everything is well distributed, and you’re done!
Make a meal outta this guy by adding some sliced grilled chicken. Seared salmon is also delicious. Or serve it as a side dish without any further additions. This salad is always a big hit for summer parties and pot lucks.
Strawberry Kale Salad with Mint
This strawberry kale is sweet summer perfection. Massaging kale leaves with balsamic dressing softens both the texture and it's bitter edge, resulting in velvety tender bites that pair perfectly with sweet strawberries, fresh mint, and tangy balsamic vinaigrette.
- 6 oz kale chopped
- 3 oz spinach chopped
- 1/2 lb strawberries sliced
- 1/2 english cucumber sliced
- 4 oz. snap peas chopped
- 1/3 c chopped mint
- 1/3 c crumbled blue cheese
- 1/3 c slivered almonds
- roasted or grilled chicken or steak optional
Prepare the balsamic vinaigrette. Combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, salt and pepper and whisk until emulsified.
Prepare the kale. Lay a kale leaf flat on a cutting board. Using a paring knife, slice along either side of the center rib to remove. Discard the ribs, then roughly chop the kale into bite sized pieces. Repeat with all remaining kale leaves.
Massage the kale. Combine the chopped kale with 1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette. Using your (clean) hands, work the vinaigrette into the kale for 2-3 minutes to loosen the tough fibers. Set aside to further marinate and soften while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
Prepare the remaining ingredients - slice the strawberries; chop the spinach into bite sized pieces; quarter the cucumber and thinly slice; chop the snap peas; and mince the mint.
Add the spinach, strawberries, cucumber, snap peas, mint, blue cheese, and almonds to the massaged kale, then drizzle with an additional quarter cup of dressing. Toss to combine. Portion into bowls with additional dressing on the side and serve immediately. Top with grilled chicken for a complete meal.