Kale, Apple & Pecorino Salad
A hearty kale apple salad perfect for fall, winter, and holidays, complete with salty pecorino cheese, sweet pomegranate seeds, and glazed pecans. This is a simple yet elegant way to get your greens!
This gorgeous kale apple salad has been on repeat for us throughout the fall. It’s easy to throw together and healthy. The texture and flavor are irresistible: crunchy, tart, a little sweet, a little salty. The kind of salad that gives salads a good name.
If you need a go-to winter side, something to liven up the table and give your teeth something to crunch in between bites of pie and sips of hot cocoa, this salad is bright and pretty and just the thing.
This kale apple salad is also a strong candidate for those lucky souls tapped to contribute “just a salad” to Thanksgiving or holiday meals. Or are they unlucky? Because, really. It’s easy to bring “just a salad,” but that’s also kind of the point. You’ve been assigned the entry-level task, the rookie role. Does anyone really expect your salad to compete with buttery mashed potatoes, let alone the dessert table? If you want to exceed expectations and say, you know, subtly — “I got this.” — this is the salad you need.
As a bonus, it actually is extremely easy. It’s the combination that feels elevated, not the complexity. A little pecorino and a few pomegranate seeds go a long way, after all. And the dressing is homemade but relies on my favorite hack to keep things simple yet fresh. But we can keep that between us.
Kale Apple Salad: Ingredient list
- Curly kale. I usually buy pre-washed bags, which work well and save time. The package is sometimes labeled “for cooking for juicing” – but tossed well with a little olive oil and lemon juice, as we’ll do here, it’s also very good raw.
- One medium apple. Any crisp variety works well. My favorite here is Honeycrisp, followed by Fuji or Granny Smith.
- Pecorino cheese. About 2 ounces, so not much. Either ask at the cheese counter for them to cut you a very small block, or, if you don’t mind buying a larger package, use the extra for snacking or building a cheese board. This is a popular cheese that goes with nearly anything!
- Glazed pecans. Look for these with the nuts, croutons, or other salad add-ins. You can also buy plain pecans and toast them yourself, but I like buying glazed for the extra flavor and reduced work.
- Pomegranate seeds. These are often sold near berries. You can definitely buy a whole pomegranate if you prefer, but again, it’s awfully convenient to buy just the seeds! You can use any extra like this, this, this, or this. Yum!
- For the dressing, it’s simple: olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Pick up a fresh lemon to juice if you can. It’s worth it.
Curious about pecorino? It’s basically Italian cheese made of sheep’s milk. Read more about the origins and types of pecorino if you’re the inquisitive type. Bonus — you’ll be the source of educated dinner-table conversation!
Simple salad hacks
Make a salad is generally a pretty simple matter, but there are actually two simple things I do that make it even more stress-free.
First, use kitchen tongs to toss the salad! So much easier than two salad spoons, and they do a better job of coating everything and slightly massaging the kale so it’s nice and tender.
Second, this is my favorite ever super simple salad dressing hack. All you really need to dress most salads is olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Put these four simple things straight on the salad. Start with a little: you can always add more, you can’t take away! This is so easy, requires no special ingredients, no separate jar to shake or clean out, and is always delicious.
Go next level
I love this salad with just the simple dressing noted above and in the recipe card, but if you want to dress it up even more, swap all or part of the lemon juice for red wine or apple cider vinegar. You can also swap the olive oil for walnut or another specialty oil, or go all out and use this amazing brown sugar cider vinaigrette instead. Delicious any which way!
More easy salad recipes:
- Shaved Brussels Sprouts Pomegranate Salad w/ Buttermilk Dressing
- Dazzling Wild Rice Winter Salad
- Five-Minute Arugula Parmesan Salad
- Spinach Strawberry Salad with Walnuts and Feta
- Spinach Salad with Nectarines and Pecans
Enjoy! If you make this Kale Apple Salad or any other recipe from Nourish and Fete, please rate it and leave a comment below. We love hearing from you, and other readers will benefit from your experience!
Kale, Apple & Pecorino Salad
- 8 ounces curly kale
- 1 medium apple Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, or Fuji work well
- 2 ounces Pecorino cheese
- 1/2 cup glazed pecans
- 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
- 2-3 tbsps olive oil
- 1-2 tbsps lemon juice
- sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper to taste
- Rinse the kale well, if needed. Pat dry with a clean kitchen towel, and allow it to air dry a bit more as you gather and prep the other ingredients.
- Slice the apple into thin wedges, and slice the cheese into bite-sized pieces.
- Add the kale to a large bowl along with the apples, cheese, pecans, and pomegranate seeds. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and lemon juice, and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Toss, taste, and add more oil, juice, salt, or pepper as desired. Toss well to evenly coat, and serve.
- I usually buy pre-washed curly kale, which works well and saves time. The package is sometimes labeled “for cooking for juicing” – but tossed well with a little olive oil and lemon juice it’s also good raw.
- Feel free to substitute another type of cheese. Parmesan has a similar taste, goat cheese or feta is a nice option for those who prefer soft cheese, and cheddar is lovely for something different.
- For variety or another layer of flavor, swap all or part of the lemon juice for red wine or apple cider vinegar. You can also swap the olive oil for walnut or another specialty oil, or use this amazing brown sugar cider vinaigrette for the dressing instead.
This post was originally published July 19, 2019, and has been updated with new photos and more helpful answers to questions throughout the post text.