This post was originally published here December 17, 2015. I’ve since adjusted the recipe instructions slightly. And I’ve updated the text and photographs to reflect those changes. This festive kale salad with add a touch of color to your Holiday table!
I’m taking a little cookie break to bring you this super festive Christmas Kale Salad with Fennel, Pomegranate, Oranges and Spiced Pecans. It’s all dressed up in red and green for the Holidays. And it’s ready to bring some color and cheer to your next gathering!
I love a big kale salad this time of year. There is just something that feels right about the deeply green, slightly bitter taste of kale leaves during the Wintertime. I’ll save the sweet, tender lettuces for Summer. Because right now, I’m craving the satisfying chew that comes with kale!
Kale salads can also withstand a bit of advance preparation or travel, because their sturdy leaves are not as prone to wilting. Which makes them a nice option for the Holidays, when you might be bringing a dish to a family or friends house. Or you might not have perfectly nailed the timing on your Christmas dinner and the salad gets left hanging out for a bit. I’ve been there.
This Christmas Kale Salad with Fennel, Pomegranate, Oranges and Spiced Pecans is a breeze to make. Start by making the spiced pecans, which are just pecans roasted with a combination of maple syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper. The pecans really make the salad feel extra special. And your house will smell great as they roast! You can prepare the pecans up to a week in advance. But be warned that if you do that, you might just end up eating them all on their own. They are very good for snacking!
For the base of this salad, I like to use baby kale leaves. I prefer their texture and appearance to “grown up” kale. And they make preparing this salad even easier (no greens to chop!). But if you can’t find them, you can certainly just chop up some larger kale leaves into bite-sized pieces. Or in a pinch, try baby spinach.
This vegan, gluten-free salad is finished with a combination of thinly sliced fennel (as thin as you can manage!), mandarin orange segments and pomegranate arils. These are some of my favorite Wintertime salad additions. Because they add a lot of color, flavor and texture to my salads. And they’re all in season right now and readily available at most grocery stores.
Christmas Kale Salad with Fennel, Pomegranate, Oranges and Spiced Pecans
For the Spiced Pecans:
- 1 cup pecans (I used a mix of halves and pieces)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
- 1 tsp. brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
For the Dressing:
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
For the Salad:
- 8 cups baby kale leaves
- 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
- 3 mandarin oranges, peeled and segmented
- 1 cup pomegranate arils
- Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the spiced pecans, tossing until the pecans are well coated. Spread the pecans out onto a rimmed baking sheet and bake in your pre-heated oven for 10-12 minutes, stirring once halfway through the cooking time. Remove from the oven and immediately spread the pecans out onto a piece of parchment paper to cool. Once cooled, the pecans can be used immediately or stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 5-7 days.
- In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing until well combined. Set aside.
- Add the kale to a large bowl. Drizzle about half the dressing over the kale, tossing to coat. Let sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes. Then add the sliced fennel, orange segments, pomegranate arils and spiced pecans. Toss again, drizzling in more dressing, if desired. Enjoy immediately.
GAH! Could this salad be any more freaking gorgeous, girl?? Seriously, stop all this beautiful faceplant-worthy salad madness! 😉 I kinda just want those spiced pecans in my face NOW!
Oh the salad is doing all the heavy lifting here. She’s a beauty! Thanks, girl!
Those pecans are calling to me! For some reason, I crave salads a LOT in the winter, so this dish is pretty much perfect to me. Also, it was 60 here last week (I mean it’s better than snow) but it still just feels WEIRD.
The weather is so weird. Makes me nervous. Like this is the end or something? Ha ha. Wow – things got morbid here real fast!
That’s such a colorful salad! And pecans sound just amazing!
This salad is gorgeous – who could say no to those spiced pecans -yum!!!
Thanks, Sam! Resistance is futile!
OMG, Liz, I am with you. I have ZERO holiday cheer. No decorations, no tree, I haven’t even bought any presents yet!! I’m not feeling it, and I’m pretty sure while everyone else is celebrating, I will be in bed. lol. Maybe I need some Christmas in a bowl?! This salad is gorgeous (like everything you make)! Love all the simple but sophisticated and delicious ingredients! Pinned! Cheers, girl!
Ok, we can be Scrooges together. Let’s just lay in bed and drink. Okay?
I LOVE raw fennel in salads! I feel like it’s so underused! Beautiful!
Oh my gosh, I was just saying the EXACT same thing the other day. Raw fennel is awesome and I’m gobbling it up left and right this time of year!
This salad is stunning! Love that tangy dressing and the spiced pecans- pinning!
Thank you so much, Medha!
This is such a gorgeous salad, and it looks amazing! I have not been eating nearly enough salad recently (my diet has been skewing towards cookies…) but this looks like the perfect cookie detox 🙂
Oh yeah, there are still plenty of cookies happening. I’m hoping the salad balances things out!
I saw this today and thought of you!! Maybe another source of revenue for you?
And um, turns out I like kale. I was always chopping it like romaine, stem and all and hated the taste. I got a free trial for Blue Apron and the first instruction was “cut the leaves off the stem and toss the stem.” Doh!
Yeah, the stems are a bit tough to choke down. So glad you like kale now, Biz! And thanks for the link to the affiliate program! I will check it out!
This is the most gorgeous salad ever!!! LOVE this Liz! Happy Holidays!
Aww…thanks, Alice! You’re the best!
I bet we could all get together and have a non decked holiday! 😀 I’m down with that. No tree, or lights happening here either, Liz! LOL… We’ll just celebrate in the kitchen with boozy cheer (bourbon please) while the poms and citrus sub for the twinkle lights! You up for that?! Those pecans!! loooove them! And I know they make a delicious addition to this salad with that fennel! Oh and warmer days…. You know, we actually had snow melting in the mountains a few weeks ago… melting in December! Climate is a’changing. Luckily we’ve had snow again and the temps are close to where they should be now. Thank you for this my dear and the shout out! xo
Yes, let’s decorate everything with festive produce! That sounds right up my alley! I just can’t believe the crazy weather we are having here right now. We definitely won’t be having a white Christmas here.
LOL ‘decorate everything with festive produce’ Baaahhhhaa! I love it! Agreed!
Yes, I am not feeling super christmasy this year either. I have a tree up, but that is about it, and I haven’t even bought any gifts. But holiday cheer in the kitchen is something I can get behind, and this sald looks amazing! I could use a good salad to balance all the cookies I’ve been eating. Pinning 🙂
Oh my gosh, so many cookies! I’ve had way too many and there is still a whole week until Christmas. Yikes!
Looks delicious! I love adding pomegranates to my salads, so I can’t wait to try this festive salad!
Thanks, Alison! I know you’ll love it!
My halls are decked and my twinkle lights are up but we are also having pretty warm weather and it makes it hard to get in the Christmas spirit! We pretty much always have warm weather here though 🙂 This salad looks very festive though and I wouldn’t mind eating a big bowl if it for lunch today!
Yeah, Arizona will do that I suppose! 🙂
This looks amazing. Do you have any suggestions for something to substitute for the fennel? Unfortunately, my family & I do not care for fennel
The possibilities are pretty endless, Kelli. You could try thinly sliced pears, apples, persimmons. Anything that you and your family like!