September Kale Salad.
It’s Monday and this is a fall kale salad. Cliché?
Sort of, yes. But I swear I will make it worth your while. I never steer you wrong when it comes to a kale salad!
Because here’s the thing.
It’s basically my mission to create a fall kale salad worth freaking over every year. Last year it was the honeycrisp harvest salad. This year it’s another kale salad because they are so much HEARTIER than regular old salads.
And they feel so fall-like to me!
I love the texture. The crunch. The fact that they don’t wilt in 26 seconds.
This is a necessity – the variety and the salad worth freaking over, that is – because I have such a hard time with salads at home. SUCH a hard time.
When I make one, I’m rarely excited about it. I feel like it never tastes as good as a salad that I have in a restaurant or one that someone else makes me.
Of course, there are a few exceptions to that, like my house salad that we adore, or the honeycrisp salad mentioned above, or the poppyseed chicken salad… okay, I could go on. There are a bunch of salads I like at home but it’s difficult to get pumped over having one for lunch.
Side note: I’m having a (reborn) love affair with the fuji apple chicken salad from Panera. It’s the salad I used to get so many years ago and I definitely burned out on it, but now I’m into it again! Definitely game on recreating that here at home. For sure.
So THIS fall kale salad. Why it’s different and why I’m obsessed:
We have apples. And figs!
Toasted pecans for crunch.
Crispy pancetta for more salty crunch and exceptional savory flavor.
My favorite quick pickled onions because they are so delish on EVERYTHING.
And goat cheese. Of course. Can’t forget the cheeeeese.
The dressing. Ohhhh this dressing.
I’ve rambled on before about how I never liked any salad dressings as a kid and that was a huge factor in not wanting to eat salads. As soon as I started making my own, my mind was blown on the flavor. It is really rare that I will use a store bought dressing. I usually don’t care for creamy ones and vinaigrettes are so super easy, so I love making ’em here.
And I present… maple cider vinaigrette! Apple cider vinegar, maple syrup and a pinch of nutmeg. A hint of fall and it tastes AMAZING.
So I’m naming this my September salad. To go with my September sangria!
That balances everything out. I’m sure of it.
Apple Pancetta Fall Kale Salad
- 1/4 cup quick pickled onions
- 2 ounces pancetta
- 1 bunch lacinato kale leaves removed from stems (you want 4 to 6 cups)
- 2 small or 1 large honeycrisp apples chopped
- 1 cup fresh figs chopped
- 1/3 cup pecans chopped
- 2 ounces goat cheese crumbled
maple cider vinaigrette
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 garlic clove finely minced or pressed
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- If you haven't made pickled onions before or you don't have any on hand, go ahead and make them according to this recipe!
- Next, heat a skillet over medium heat and add the pancetta. Cook, stirring often, until the pancetta is crisp and the fat is rendered. Remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon and place it on a paper towel to drain excess grease.
- While the pancetta is cooking, shred the kale with a large knife. I like to run my knife through the leaves until they are in smaller pieces, but don't worry about them being super smell or uniformly sized. Place the kale in a bowl and add 1 teaspoon olive oil. Massage the oil into the kale with your hands for 3 to 4 minutes. Set the bowl aside to sit for moment. Chop up your apples, figs and pecans at this time too!
- When you're ready to assemble the salad, sprinkle the kale with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add in the pancetta, the apples, figs, pecans and pickled onions. Add the crumbled goat cheese on top. Season with another pinch of salt and pepper. Drizzle with the dressing and serve!
maple cider vinaigrette
- In a bowl, whisk together the vinegar, syrup, garlic, salt, pepper, nutmeg and pepper flakes. Continue to whisk while streaming in the olive oil. This dressing stays great in the fridge in a sealed container for a week or so, so feel free to make a double batch if desired!
Did you make this recipe?
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I appreciate you so much!
May as well just give me a pitcher of the dressing to drink too.
35 Comments on “September Kale Salad.”
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Cliché? No, not in my opinion. As delicious-sounding as it is delicious-looking? Absolutely (also in my opinion).
thank you love!! xo
Okay, but HOW do you chop your pancetta so *little* like that?!
i bought it pre-chopped! :)
That is a gorgeous salad! I think all the ingredients are going onto my grocery list so I can make it this week!
It really looks like a great flavor combination, especially with that pancetta and figs! and the goat cheese of course!! Can’t wait!
thanks so much ali!
Oh. My. Gosh. I am dying to make this! And I totally agree – it’s all about the kale come fall!
thanks so much ashlyn!! xo
Thank you for a beautiful kale salad recipe. Made this tonight for my family and the kitchen smells divine. It tastes even better.
so glad you liked it! xo
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I am the only one in our family of seven (ranging from 1-year-old Hannah, to 70-year-old grandpa who comes over most days) who likes goat cheese. I’ve purchased it at the farmers market and eaten it all myself a few times this summer. Blue cheese, and manchego – could they possibly stand in???
for sure!! i think both of those options would be delish!
“I feel like it never tastes as good as a salad that I have in a restaurant or one that someone else makes me.” Umm yes that’s exactly how I feel!! Well now that you’ve deconstructed my resistance to homemade fancy-ish salads I’ll have to give this a try.
right?! like whyyyyy is that!
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Looks like the perfect kale salad. Trying this recipe super soon.
thanks so much sheenam!
Just made this tonight and it was diviiiinnne! So many good flavors! Never made pickled onions before but now I’m totally hooked. The only thing I didn’t have was pancetta and I used blue cheese instead of goat. And I love the nutmeg in the dressing, such a good idea!
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This salad looks soooooooo good!! I’m putting it on my menu tonight!! :)
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I made this salad tonight! Really delicious, thank you for the recipe! I made it without the pancetta and substituted Havarati cheese for the goat cheese. The flavors all went so great together. And there were a lot of different textures. it made a great meatless Monday salad!
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I know I sound crazy here but I just cannot do the kale. Would hearty mixed greens and spinach be an acceptable substitute? Salad sounds tasty – would love to try it.
I never ever love a salad that I make myself. This salad was perfection. They were out of fresh figs at WF today so I subbed in dried cherries instead. Delicious.
I made this tonight and it was beyond delicious! Perfect melding of flavors and textures – I can’t wait to eat it again. Thank you!!
Delicious fall salad! The pancetta gives it just the right amount of saltiness/smoke paired with the sweet fig and apple.
Damn! Best salad EVER! Have made it twice and am crazy about it. BTW it took several days before my pickled onions were tasting okay though.
Had this salad as a side to beef stew tonight and although it is no longer fall, I really enjoyed it and felt it was the perfect accompaniment to the heavier stew! This was light, fresh, and crunchy. I did have to make some substitutions based on what I could find at the store (ex: could not find fresh figs in Dec so bought dried figs, left out the pancetta as I was using this as a lighter side, and used little red gem/spinach mixed salad greens instead of kale because I dislike kale). I was also just gifted a cranberry apple cider salad dressing from a local smoked meat market so I used that instead, but the dressing in this recipe sounds so good I’ll have to try it once this bottle is out! The apples were my favorite part of this – they gave a really nice juicy crunch!