This Kale Bacon Salad with Roasted Crunchy Maple Walnuts and Pumpkin Seed clusters brings the best of Winter's bounty and perfect for a main salad course or as a side dish at Thanksgiving or Holiday dinner! Shredded kale, arugula, tangy parmesan slices, and sweet dried cranberries - all tossed in a simple (and delicious) Cranberry Vinaigrette. Plus the roasted walnut-pumpkin cluster roasted with a touch of maple alongside salty bacon... YUM.
This simple yet seasonal salad is so delicious and perfect winter salad. Every holiday season (can you even believe New Years is just around the corner?!) I like to make a new simple green salad to compliment all of the family dinners. With so many rich and decadent meals going around I think something green should be added to the table.
And since transitioning to a clean eating lifestyle, we LOVE knowing where all of the ingredients came from (and not industrially produced in some factory). One of the more difficult things to do in these eating habit changes is to begin cooking! Some (most) days I simply don't feel like it! But then I remember how much better I feel AFTER I made something good-for-us vs grabbing takeout. And I know that I will thank past me for developing tasty yet good for me recipes later! (And you will too!)
The Best Kale Bacon Salad Recipe
This is such a fresh and easy kale bacon salad recipe that encompasses all of winter's bounty in one bowl. While most kale salad recipes include brussel sprouts and pomegranate arils. I wanted this salad to incorporate other seasonal favorites like cranberries, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and of course some massaged dinosaur kale! Plus, no mess with getting the pomegranate arils out of the fruit!
What you will Need
- lacinato kale- also known as "dinosaur kale", I think it gives this dark green salad a great texture.
- arugula - I love adding more than one green in a salad and arugula compliments kale very well.
- bacon - because who doesn't love bacon???
- Walnuts & Pepitas - Tossed with a little maple syrup and roasted in the oven for a minute... adds a touch of sweet to balance the salty crispy bacon.
- Dried Cranberries - tangy, slightly bitter, but adds that special touch here... and the COLOR! (Trader Joe's actually sells and unsweetened version which is what I use for less sugar)
- Olive Oil - I use extra virgin olive oil as the base for the simple salad dressing
- Cranberry Jam or Relish - A key ingredient to my Cranberry Vinaigrette!
- Parmesan Cheese - adds a sharp/nuttiness to this salad
How to make this Shredded Kale Bacon Salad
First step is to massage the kale in a large bowl. This helps the kale itself not only taste better but actually easier to eat! Also, tear the kale leaves into small pieces.
Set the kale aside while you bake the candied walnuts and bacon. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, mix together the walnuts, pepitas, and maple syrup on one side and on the other lay out the bacon. Bake both at the same time. But keep an eye on the nut mixture as it could cook faster than the bacon. If it does, simply remove the nut mixture and continue to cook the bacon until crisp. Once the bacon is done, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
While the bacon and candied nut mixture bakes, make the vinaigrette. To a mason jar, add the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, orange zest, cranberry jam, mustard, and thyme. Shake vigorously until combined. This has become my new favorite dressing this season. It's SO good.
Finally, assemble the salad. Mix in the arugula, parmesan cheese, maple nut mixture clusters, bacon, and dried cranberries together in the same bowl with the kale. Toss with the dressing and serve!
There are so many ways to enjoy this delicious salad! I typically make a big batch at the beginning of the week and have it as my lunch all week long plus I add some slices of cooked chicken breasts or quinoa for some extra protein! This salad would also make the perfect side for the Roasted Garlic Oven Roast, Weeknight Creamy Garlic Sauce Chicken Skillet (Dairy Free), and Caramelized Onion Burger with Arugula.
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