This delicious Pomegranate Pear Kale Salad is loaded with fresh, healthy ingredients. The simple, vibrant lemon dressing ties it all together.
I love going to a party and finding something fresh, healthy and delicious in the midst of all the indulgent, celebration food. To me, it's a bit like finding an oasis in the middle of a hot, dusty desert. If you look up fresh, healthy and delicious in the dictionary, you might just see a picture of this Pomegranate Pear Kale Salad! And it doesn't hurt that it's super pretty too!
Not only is it nice to find a salad like this at a party or potluck, it's also a wonderful dish to bring! This Pomegranate Pear Kale Salad can be made an hour or two ahead and actually gets better as it sits for a while. You probably won't have any leftovers but if there is a bit left, it's even great the following day for lunch.
Don't get me wrong, this Pomegranate Pear Kale Salad isn't merely a party/potluck dish. While it's definitely a crowd-pleaser, you'll find it also perfect for pairing with grilled or roasted entrees for everyday healthy dinners. We've enjoyed it with burgers, rotisserie chicken and salmon. I think you'll find this Pomegranate Pear Kale Salad also goes well with steak, shrimp, ribs... anything!
Practice your massage technique
The salad's base is kale, thinly sliced and then rubbed with a bit of the lemon dressing. Rubbing or "massaging" sliced kale with your fingertips only takes a few minutes, but makes a big difference. Massaging softens the leaves and makes them tender and delicious. If you're not sure you like kale, try it this way and I bet you'll change your mind.
You can see in the image above how rubbing the leaves brightens the color of the kale. You will also note the volume is decreased as the kale is softened after being massaged. That's why it's important to start out with plenty of kale. You don't want to see sad faces when the bowl's empty long before everyone's had their fill.
Delicious, healthy ingredients
Diced red pear, dried cranberries, pomegranate arils, parmesan cheese and salted, roasted sunflower seeds are the supporting cast of characters that combine with a bright lemony dressing to make this super delicious salad. It's sweet, tart, salty, crunchy and quite festive, all at the same time!
Café Tips for making this Pomegranate Pear Kale Salad
- You can purchase bunches of kale or large bags of torn kale. I really like to buy the large bags as the kale already has a lot of the tough stems and ribs removed and it's usually been triple washed, eliminating a lot of work. Check the bag though before purchasing to make sure it says "triple washed".
- 8 ounces will seem like a lot of kale, but as I stated earlier, the kale will "shrink" when massaged with the dressing.
- "Massaging" the kale simply means rubbing it between your fingers with a bit of the dressing until the kale softens
- Use a good, sharp knife to shred the kale. I have used these Global knives for years and love them. I've tried others, but always come back to these beautiful, good-quality knives. They have a nice feel and aren't too heavy. You can purchase them individually, as well as in different size sets. Scott keeps my knives razor-sharp with Global's unique and easy-to-use ceramic water wheel sharpener. These knives would make a fabulous gift for your favorite chef!
- This Pomegranate Pear Kale Salad can be made a few hours in advance. I like to reserve a small amount of the Parmesan, pomegranate arils and sunflower seeds to garnish the salad just before serving.
- Are you intimidated by pomegranates? I used to be, and often ended up purchasing the ridiculously expensive arils instead of whole pomegranates (which are very reasonably priced when they're in season). Several years ago I discovered a super easy, no-mess technique for removing the seeds (arils) from the pomegranate. I did a tutorial post on this method that shows you exactly how it works. You'll never have to buy the pricey seeds again; you'll be a believer once you see how easy it is!
- Pomegranates are in season in the U.S. from September through February. During the off-season, feel free to make this salad without the pomegranates. It will still be super delicious!
- You can make the dressing and shred the kale, up to a day in advance, then massage the kale and combine with the other ingredients an hour or so before serving.
- Use a good Parmesan cheese for this recipe, definitely not the pre-shredded stuff that comes in the green container. The best Parmesan comes from Italy and is called Parmigiano Reggiano. It's a splurge, but a very delicious one! A little good Parmesan goes a long way and, since it's a very hard cheese, a block will keep for months in the refrigerator.
- The pears in this recipe are diced super small. Dicing anything into tiny pieces can be tedious. I cheat a little and use this wonderful Vidalia Chop Wizard. The chopping is done before you can say Vidalia Chop Wizard! I also use it for onions, carrots, squash, cucumbers, potatoes, etc. This little gadget saves me a ton of time in the kitchen. I’ve been using these choppers for a long time. I replace mine every few years as the blade gets dull or the plastic starts to get old from being run through the dishwasher so many times. But at $19.95, it’s totally worth it to me as it’s such a little kitchen workhorse.
- You'll end up with extra dressing. It's a very basic lemon dressing that's great on just about any type of greens!
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons honey
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 1 tablespoon water
- 8 ounces curly kale tough veins and stems removed
- 3 ounces Parmesan cheese
- 2 medium red pears halved, cored and diced small
- ½ cup pomegranate arils drained
- ½ cup roasted salted sunflower seeds
Combine all ingredients together in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Cover and shake well. Shake again before adding to the salad.
Combine dried cranberries and water in a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup. Cover with microwave-safe plastic wrap and place in microwave for 1 minute on high power. Set aside to cool.
Remove any remaining stems and finely chop the into very thin strips by bunching the kale together between your fingers and slicing thinly. Cut it a couple times, going in the other direction. You want the results to kale that’s chopped into small (about ½-inch) pieces. Place chopped kale in a medium-size bowl.
Drizzle 3 tablespoons of the dressing over the chopped kale. With your fingertips, massage the kale for 2-3 minutes, or until all the kale has been coated with dressing and softens. You will also see a color change from dull to bright green.
Add the dried cranberries and most of the parmesan cheese, drained pomegranate arils and sunflower seeds. Toss the diced pears with 1 tablespoon of the dressing and add pears to salad. Stir to combine. Salad can be refrigerated at this point for an hour or two.
Just before serving, garnish with the reserved cheese, pomegranate arils and sunflower seeds. Serve extra dressing at the table.