Winter Salad

Quick and easy winter salad

Kale, apples, pumpkin seeds, and black vinegar. Its a simple salad that comes together quickly.

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Growing up I never saw the joy of kale. One of those vegetables given a villain stigma, but it’s great cabbage. Down to earth with a little bitter hint. This winter salad pairs massaged kale with black vinegar, apples, pumpkin seeds, and asiago cheese. A balance of textures and flavors. It’s a quick and easy salad that comes together in less than 10 minutes.

winter salad

Quick and Easy Salad 

Making this kale and apple salad is quick and easy. Coming together in 10 to 15 minutes, it’s great for a quick dinner side. Massaging the kale is the most time-consuming part. One I would skip. You can have a few bunches of already massaged kale in the refrigerator. Pull some out whenever the salad bug hits ya. The salad prep is so easy here. Slice a few apples and toss everything together. I usually mix the salad and eat it in the same bowl. Its saves on time and dishes. That’s also why I chose not to make the dressing separate for this recipe. Sometimes making a separate dressing batch is extra for a quick and easy salad. Tossing everything in the bowl together gets the job done. You could make a big batch of it if you so do, please. Tossing the olive oil, black vinegar, and soy sauce in a jar is easy enough. It’s shelf-stable too. 

Winter salad

winter salad prep

Winter is dark and cold. Brisk and harsh. The vibes were the inspiration for this salad. The soy and black vinegar provide that essence. The black vinegar is acidic with a bit of umami hit. Similar to balsamic vinegar. Combing them with in-season produce gets us a tasty winter salad. Massaged kale, apples, and pumpkin seeds are all harbingers of the cold. They are so easy to come by and all their varieties. 

Massaged Kale 

Massaging kale is a great technique I don’t think many people know about. Kale has an outer waxy layer called the cuticle. This layer is made of cutin and is meant to retain water in the plant. Removing it makes the eating experience more enjoyable for salads. It’s easier to eat raw and has a beautiful sheen. Massaged kale is the way to go for salads. All you need is equal parts oil and salt. Mix the two and massage them into the kale. Rinse a few times with warm water and you’re ready to go. This process removes the cuticle and seasons the kale too. It’s a win, win. 

winter salad prep

Winter Salad ideas 

There are so many types of apples and kale on the market. That means hundreds of different combinations within this recipe. Exploring them all can be a fun experience. I love dinosaur kale. Also known as Lacinato kale, Italian kale, and a few other names. It has a slight earthiness paired with a bit of sweetness. It’s the main kale I’ve used in this recipe. Some kales are good for salad, but others are better for cooking. Here are a few varieties good for massaged kale salads. 

  • red Russian
  • curly 
  • savoy 

The apples play a big role here too. I prefer a sweeter apple rather than a tart one in the kale salad. The apple should balance the black vinegar. Something like a granny smith might make it too bright. I used opal apples but any other sweeter apple will work too. Here are a few recommendations. 

  • fuji 
  • envy 
  • ambrosia 
  • golden delicious 

kale and apple are the focal points here but the cheese is also a big component. I listed asiago below but similar cheeses can work too. I used pleasant ridge reserve. One of my favorite hard cheeses I rediscovered shopping for this recipe. Anything akin to asiago is great though. Parmesian, grana, romano, and pecorino are good options here. Taking a trip to the market with a decent cheese section can get you what you need here. Finding black vinegar can be a little hard too. Just about any Asian grocery store will have it. Black vinegar is a grain-based vinegar that is aged and sometimes infused with spices. It’s very similar to balsamic, but balsamic uses grapes for fermenting. If you can’t get your hands on black vinegar for this kale salad don’t worry. Balsamic will do the trick and can be found all over the place in us markets. 

Have fun with this recipe. It’s ripe for creativity and change. I’ve been eating this salad a lot at home. It’s so easy to make and sensible. The black vinegar can be tricky to find but end up being a great pantry item. Massage some kale and enjoy your winter salads. 

Winter Salad

Servings 1
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes


Massaged Kale

  • 2 & ¼ C (59g) Dinosaur Kale
  • 1 Tbsp (18g) salt
  • 1 Tbsp (14g) Oil

Winter Salad

  • 2/3C (38g) Slices opal apple
  • 1/8C (30g) Pumpkin seeds
  • 1 & ½ tsp (10g) Black vinager
  • 1 & ½ tsp (7g) Soy sauce
  • 1 & ½ tsp (7g) Olive oil
  • 1 tbsp (10) Asiago cheese


  • Remove the kale leaves from the stems. place in a large bowl.
  • Whisk the oil and salt together then add to the kale. Massage the oil and salt into the kale until evenly coated. Add lukewarm water to the bowl and massage for another minute. Strain water and repeat 2 more times with the warm water. Rinse one more time with cold water and strain in a colander. Save for later use.
  • Thinly slice the opal apple. Add to a bowl with massaged kale. Add the remain ingridients and toss until evenly mixed.
  • Plae the winter salad in a bowl and finish with extra asiago cheese.
Author: Anfernee Milton
Course: dinner, lunch, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: apples, kale, kale and apple salad, kale salad, massaged kale, pumpkin seeds
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