Kale salad

Kale salad

kale salad plate

I’ve had a bit of a hectic time lately so my today’s recipe is a simple kale salad that I hope will become your favourite way to eat this dark leafy green too. I love it so much that I’ve been having it after lunch, as a dessert! This kale salad could not be simpler but it tastes anything but boring.

This kale salad consists of perfectly steamed cavolo nero (also known as lacinato or dinosaur kale), messaged with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. The first helps to tenderise the leaves and the latter cuts through kale’s natural bitterness and helps your body absorb all of the nutritional goodness that dark leafy greens, like kale, are renowned for.

So far nothing special, right? Wait, there is more…Steamed and massaged kale gets seasoned with toasted sunflower seed flavoured with white miso, herbs and cheesy nutritional yeast. I bake the seeds in a form of a large cracker, in a low oven until crunchy and golden. Then, after they cool off, I pound them in my pestle and mortar. I pound some seeds well and leave others in larger chunks to add some crunch to this simple side dish. The sunflower seeds season the salad as well as bring a bit more excitement to what is otherwise a plain plate of greens. It really works a treat and makes for a delicious side dish or offers a great base for a more elaborate kale salad too.


kale salad kale

kale salad sunflower cracker

KALE: There are many varieties of kale and so you are welcome to use any, but I chose lacinato kale or cavolo nero. It is one of the two types of kale widely available in UK supermarkets and as opposed to the other type – curly kale – it is sold in bunches. I find that curly kale is often only available pre-cut and as it’s done by a machine, the job is done badly and so you need to cut out the tough stem out of tens of pieces, which takes forever. Getting rid of the stem from a whole leaf is easy and quick. When buying kale, pay attention to its colour. Do not buy if there are any areas turning yellow as it means the leaves are not fresh.

OLIVE OIL: I like to use extra virgin olive oil to massage the leaves and regular cooking olive oil to make the sunflower cracker, but you can use either for both. Massaging oil into leaves tenderises them and makes them more pleasant to eat.

LEMON: You can skip the lemon, but I like to use a little bit of it to help my body as vitamin C in lemon juice helps to make plants’ nutrients more bioavailable. It also cuts through kale’s bitterness nicely.

SUNFLOWER SEEDS: Sunflower seeds are very cheap and accessible. They present no issue for people with nut allergies so they are a perfect base for the savoury cracker that seasons the kale and provides delicious crunch to this simple kale salad. There is no need to pre-roast sunflower seeds before using in this recipe.

MISO: I used white miso (shiro miso) to flavour the cracker and to bring the sunflower seeds together as well. White miso is quite mild in taste compared to other types (red miso, for example) so I would not recommend using a different type here. Miso paste is widely available these days so you should have no trouble finding it. If you need this seasoning to be gluten-free, look for miso that is based on chickpeas, brown rice, millet etc., rather than wheat.

NUTRITIONAL YEAST: Nutritional yeast – NOT brewer’s yeast – is a staple vegan seasoning. IT gives this seasoning parmesan cheese-like flavour so I don’t recommend you skip it.

MAPLE SYRUP: I used a very small amount of maple syrup to round off the flavours.

DRY HERBS: A teaspoon of mixed dried herbs – I went for Italian mix – adds herbaceous deliciousness to this simple nut-free seasoning.

kale salad destemming

Cut the stems off the kale leaves and discard. Chop the leaves into even, bite-size pieces. Place in a steamer over a pot of lightly simmering water and steam until tender but with a bit of a bite, 3-4 minutes.

kale salad cracker making

Combine miso paste, maple syrup, dry herbs, nutritional yeast and 1 tbsp of olive oil in a medium size bowl, then add sunflower seeds. Use a flexible spatula to rub the wet ingredients into the seeds to ensure that they are evenly coated.

kale salad cracker baking

Spread the mixture on a paper lined baking tray or a baking silicone mat in a thin, even layer – it’s better if the middle is thinner than the edges as it takes longer to dry out. Tidy up the edges as if they remain scraggly, they will end up burnt. Bake until dry and only a little darker, you don’t want it burnt. Allow to cool completely.

kale salad sunflower broken up

kale salad sunflower cracker ground

Break some of the clusters up with your hands and grind others up finely in a coffee / spice grinder or a pestle & mortar. Season the salad with finely ground seeds and top with larger pieces for some textural variety.

kale salad mixing

4 as side
10 min
30 min
4 as side
10 min
30 min
  • 16 g / 1 tbsp white (shiro) miso paste
  • 1 tsp / 5 ml maple syrup
  • 1 tsp Italian dry herbs
  • 5 g / 2 tbsp nutritional yeast (I use Engevita)
  • 30 ml / 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 60 g / ½ cup sunflower seeds
  • 10 ml / 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 200 g / 7 oz kale (I used lacinato kale)
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 100° C / 210° F (or 20° C / 70° F less with the fan on). Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine miso paste, maple syrup, Italian herbs, nutritional yeast and 1 tbsp of oil until smooth. Stir sunflower seeds through the mixture until well coated.
  3. Spread the mixture in a thin layer on the tray, tidy up the edges as they tend to burn easily. Bake for 25-30, until the mixture has dried out, it can get a little darker but make sure it doesn’t burn. Allow to cool.
  4. Wash kale well. Cut the tough stems out using a sharp knife and discard. Cut the leaves into even, bite-size pieces.
  5. Place kale in a large steamer over a pot of simmering water. Steam, covered, until kale is tender but retains a little bit of a bite – approx. 3-4 minutes.
  6. Whisk the remaining tablespoon of olive oil with lemon juice in a large bowl. Add chopped kale, massage the dressing into the kale leaves using your fingers.
  7. Crush cooled sunflower seeds in a pestle & mortar or coffee grinder. I like to crush some a portion finely, but a few larger chunks too.
  8. Season dressed kale with crushed sunflower seeds (you may have some left over). Arrange on a large platter, scattering some bigger pieces on top. Serve straight away.
4 g
16 g
2 g
6 g
9 g
*per 1 out of 4 servings
How would you rate this recipe?
This is a test string

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

1 review, 3 comments
Amazing kale salad! We devoured it. Loved the crunch from miso-sesame brittle (didn’t use nutritional yeast). Absolutely the best kale salad I have tried. Thank you so much for the recipe!
    Thank you Lana, I am so happy to hear that you enjoyed it so much. And thank you for taking the time to review - I really appreciate it. Ania
Great recipe and it comes in the right time for me as I was just planning to make something similar with kale! Thanks :)
P.S. I will definitely be using other nuts - almond and/or walnut and am sure it will still be quite perfect. Thanks again and for your continuous work in developing plant based recipes, lazy cat <3
    Thanks Ana, I am happy that the recipe has come at the right time for you - I hope you'll enjoy it. Nuts will work too but it will be harder to make them into a single cracker as they are not that uniform or flat, but flavourwise certainly. Thank you for your kind words about my work, that's lovely to hear. Ania
Join our mailing list and we we will let you know when we publish a new recipe. You'll receive our DELIGHTFUL DESSERTS E-BOOK as a thank you for supporting us.