Fresh, healthy and delicious this make-ahead Strawberry Kale Salad is perfect for summer picnics, potlucks and parties. The honey lemon dressing and candied pepitas take it over the top!
I love having a “go-to” salad each season for entertaining and get-togethers and this Strawberry Kale Salad is definitely my “pick” for this late spring and summer. It’s loaded with fresh healthy ingredients, can be made in advance and lets the beautiful produce of the season shine.
This strawberry kale salad is super versatile and make-ahead
Scott and I have enjoyed this delicious strawberry kale salad with chicken, salmon, pizza as well as on its own. It would be perfect for a picnic, potluck or party as the recipe makes enough to generously feed 6-8. And the best part? It’s one of those salads that can be prepped early in the day and then quickly and easily thrown together right before dinner.
The dressing is super simple with just three main ingredients, fresh lemon juice, olive oil and honey. Add a minced clove of garlic and a pinch of salt and combine it all in a jar with a tight lid. Shake, shake, shake and you’re done. This dressing is sunny, bright and pairs nicely with the sweet berries and crunchy, salty candied pepitas.
Candied pepitas? Yes! The crunchy, salty-sweet candied pepitas might just be the crowning glory. They’re easy to make and take less than 10 minutes, but give the salad a delicious, gourmet touch. I like to double the recipe since they’re wonderful for snacking and pizazz up just about any salad.
What are pepitas?
- Pepitas (meaning “little seeds of squash” in Spanish) are simply pumpkin seeds without the shell. They are sold in the nut or snack section of most larger grocery stores or in the bulk section. You can also order pepitas online.
- Sometimes they might be labeled simply as “pumpkin seeds”, just be sure to look for the type without the shells.
- Pumpkin seeds with the shells are a creamy white color. Pepitas will be a greenish tan.
Make a believer!
If you’re not a huge kale fan, this strawberry kale salad might surprise you. The kale is sliced into tiny ribbons and combined with a splash of the tangy-sweet honey lemon dressing. This mellows the flavor and tenderizes the texture of the kale, bye-bye tough kale! And add sweet juicy berries, sweet dried cranberries and the delicious candied pepitas and you’ve got a salad that even non-kale lovers will take second helpings of!
Café Tips for making this Strawberry Kale Salad
- I generally purchase kale in big bags in the produce section. It’s already cut up and triple washed. I pour out a big pile onto the counter and pick out any tough stems and/or wilted pieces. Then I grab a big handful, transfer it to my cutting board and scrunch it together with my non-cutting hand. Using a nice sharp knife, I start cutting thin slices (about 1/8-inch thick, moving my hand back away from the knife as I continue to slice). Scrunching up the kale helps get the job done quickly as you can cut more at one time. Just go slowly and keep your fingers out of the way. After cutting in the thin ribbons, I then give it a few chops in the opposite direction so there are no long pieces of kale.
- If you’re in the market for new knives, I love my set of Global knives. I’ve used them for about 7 years now and they are still wonderful. They’re easy to sharpen with the Global water sharpener and feel really good in my hand. They would make a wonderful gift for anyone who enjoys cooking. If I was choosing just one, it would be this 8-inch chef knife. I use it all the time! These knives come with a warning though – once you have good knives, you’re spoiled for life!
- This salad is fabulous, made with local, perfectly ripe strawberries (they’re just coming into season here in the mountains of NC), but it will also be delicious with grocery store berries as the dressing adds lots of bright flavor.
- If you find that your dried cranberries are super dry and shriveled up, you can easily reconstitute them. Just put them in a microwave-safe cup and add a teaspoon of water. Cover and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir and allow to cool before using.
- You’ll have more dressing and candied pepitas than you probably need for this salad, but, the pepitas are great for snacking and the dressing is so universal you can use it on just about any salad. It’s also delicious drizzled over grilled chicken, salmon, pork, etc.
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear other’s results and ideas for variations.
- ½ cup salted roasted pepitas
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- 2-2 ½ tablespoons honey start with 2, add more, to taste
- 1 small clove garlic
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 cups thinly sliced kale about
- 1 ½ cups sliced fresh strawberries
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- ½ cup dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 400˚F. Line a sheet pan with parchment. Spray parchment lightly and rub to coat with a paper towel.
Combine pepitas, honey and olive oil on the prepared sheet pan. Place pan in the oven for 2 minutes then remove and stir well. Spread pepitas out to a single layer and return to oven for 3 minutes. Repeat stirring and spreading pepitas then bake for 2-3 more minutes or until a nice golden brown.
Remove from oven, stir and spread out to cool. Store in an airtight container once cooled.
Combine all dressing ingredients in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake well.
Place thinly sliced kale in a large bowl. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons of the dressing. Stir well with a large spatula to coat the kale with dressing. Using your hands, rub kale between your fingers for about 30-45 seconds to thoroughly coat it with the dressing.
Add strawberries, blueberries and dried cranberries and gently toss to combine. Drizzle with a bit more dressing and top with candied pepitas. Pass extra dressing at the table.
See Café Tips above for more detailed instructions and tips for making this salad.
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