This kale salad with strawberries is quick, seasonal and delicious. Add your favorite protein and make it a lunch or dinner! With strawberries, caramelized pepitas, dates and pecorino romano, you get the best combo of sweet and crunchy and a great source of iron!
Kale will forever be one of my favorite bases for a salad. It’s super hearty, I love the texture and it pairs well with fruit and cheese. And everyone knows those are really the best part of a salad. This kale salad with strawberries, dates and pepitas is a great combo of sweet, salty, chewy and crunchy. Plus, the kale gives is some major staying power (three cups of kale, which is roughly what I use– has 6 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber.) Pecorino romano, one of my favorite hard cheeses, gives it that salty goodness. I topped mine with grilled chicken since it was what I had in my fridge. But you could also top it with plain chickpeas, shrimp, salmon cakes or serve it without any added protein.
If kale makes you nervous, this is a great option to start with! (This is another favorite kale salad recipe!) Spring is a perfect time to try this salad because kale and strawberries are in season and available at most farmers markets!
Kale Salad with Strawberries, Caramelized Pepitas, Dates & Pecorino Romano
What’s the deal with massaging kale?
Kale is SUPER high in fiber, and it also contains B vitamins, and vitamin C, which promotes iron absorption. Lacinato Kale is my favorite kale for salads, but it can be a little tough so I always thinly slice or tear it up. And sometimes, I’ll even massage it.
Massaging kale helps break down the tough cell structure and gives the kale a softer texture and sort of a gentler flavor. I think it makes it easier to digest and enjoy. All you need to do is use your hands and a little bit of olive oil to soften the kale, massaging it with your hands. Unlike other leafy greens, it won’t get soggy and wilty when it sits with salad dressing or olive oil on it.
Kale Salad Variations and Toppings
Pepitas, aka pumpkin seeds, are a great source of healthy fats, magnesium and zinc. I often caramelize them because it makes them crunchier and sweeter, but if I’m in a rush, raw ones work great too. Slice almonds work well in this recipe too.
Dates also help add some sweetness to this salad. Any dried fruit – like cherries, cranberries or apricots – will work well!
Fresh fruit adds another layer or sweetness to balance the bitter kale, and using fresh fruit adds crisp texture, while the dried fruit gives it chewiness! Pairing it with strawberries is a must when they are in season, like right now. In the summer, I add pears. And in the fall, I go for crisp apples!
If you’re dairy free you can skip the Pecorino Romano, but if you aren’t, add every bit of it. It’s similar to parmesan, but typically cheaper and I like it better.
Chicken, shrimp, tofu, tempeh, salmon cakes or chickpeas all work well on this! I bet sliced steak would be delicious too!