Serve this Kale, Apple, and Brussels Sprouts Salad as an easy and elegant winter side dish. Dressed in a homemade dijon dressing, this vegan and gluten free recipe is completely foolproof and perfectly balanced between savory and sweet.
There’s nothing wrong with indulging in sweet treats throughout winter, but it never hurts to add some vegetables to your plate either! And just because they’re vegetables doesn’t mean they have to be boring. These roasted acorn squash and feta harissa roasted carrots are a perfect fit for the gaps on your plate, or opt for this light and tangy Kale, Apple, and Brussels Sprouts Salad instead!
Made with kale, brussels sprouts, apples, and dates, this winter kale salad is ready to eat in just 3 simple steps. In the end, you’ll have a colorful, bright, and fresh salad to enjoy throughout winter. It only gets better with the easy homemade dijon dressing and walnuts on top!
- A naturally gluten free, dairy free, and vegan winter salad.
- Every bite has a perfect balance of savory, earthy, and sweet flavors.
- Serve it as a light dinner or flavorful side dish.
- Kale - One of the best winter greens! You can use any kind of kale you like, such as lacinato, baby, or curly kale.
- Brussels sprouts - Sometimes raw brussels sprouts can be bitter when served raw. To avoid this, slice them very thin or shred them.
- Apple - A thinly sliced Honeycrisp, Fuji, or Pink Lady apple adds just the right amount of sweetness.
- Dates - For some natural sweetness and notes of caramel.
- Walnuts - Or use pecans, pumpkin seeds, or sunflower seeds instead.
- Shallot - For just the right amount of sharpness in this sweet and savory salad. Yellow or red onion can also be used in a pinch.
- Homemade dijon dressing - A flavorful and tangy mix of olive oil, water, lemon juice, dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, garlic, shallot, salt, and pepper. Blend it up and you’re done!
Step 1: Make the dressing. Add the olive oil, water, lemon juice, dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, garlic, shallot, salt, and pepper to a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.
Step 2: Massage the kale. Place the kale in a large bowl and drizzle olive oil and a bit of your homemade dressing over top. Use your hands to massage the kale leaves. This will wilt the leaves and break down some of the natural bitterness. Here's an article that perfectly explains how and why to massage kale.
Step 3: Assemble the salad. Add the sliced brussels sprouts, apple, dates, walnuts, shallot, and remaining dressing to the kale. Toss it all together with salad tongs and enjoy!
Expert tips and FAQs
- The best way to get a little bit of everything in one bite is to finely chop all of your ingredients.
- The longer your kale marinates in the oil and dressing, the more flavorful it will become.
- Use a food processor or box grater to quickly shred your brussels sprouts instead of slicing them with a knife.
- Toast the walnuts for extra flavor!
- To make this salad nut free, simply omit the walnuts or replace them with seeds.
What other dressings can you use?
Warm, winter salad dressings pair best with the sweet and savory flavors in this shaved brussels sprouts salad. Feel free to swap the dijon dressing for red wine vinaigrette, honey cinnamon dressing, or leek dressing.
What goes well with kale and brussels sprouts salad?
This light and crisp salad can be served as a healthy lunch or dinner, or as a unique side dish. Pair it with warm and healthy meals like instant pot chicken thighs, quinoa crusted salmon, and vegan potato soup.
What else can you put in a kale apple salad?
Anything you like! Add in any of these tasty suggestions:
- Veggies - Maple roasted carrots, roasted butternut squash or sweet potatoes, red cabbage, cucumbers, bell peppers, red onion, and celery.
- Greens - Spinach, swiss chard, mustard greens, romaine, iceberg, or butter lettuce.
- Fruits - Use winter fruits like pears, fresh or dried cranberries, lemon zest, and dried cherries.
- Nuts and seeds - Top it all off with slivered almonds, candied pecans, or pistachios. For a nut free alternative, use sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds.
How do you make raw brussels sprouts taste good?
I find that very thinly sliced raw brussels sprouts taste best. You can also try marinating your shaved sprouts in a bit of olive oil or homemade dijon dressing for extra flavor.
Can you make it ahead of time?
Absolutely! Simply chop and assemble your brussels sprouts salad ingredients, make your dressing, and store the two separately in the fridge. When you’re ready to eat, toss your salad in the dressing and enjoy!
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Apple, Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad
for the dressing:
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ shallot chopped
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoon water
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 garlic clove
- pinch of salt and pepper
for the salad:
- 1 bunch kale stems removed, chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- .5 lb. brussels sprouts (approx. 2 cups). thinly sliced
- 1 apple sliced
- 5 medjool dates pitted and sliced
- ⅓ cup walnuts chopped, see notes for alternatives
- ½ shallot sliced
- Start by making the dressing: add all of the ingredients to a small blender or a food processor and pulse for 10 seconds. Reserve the other half of the shallot for the actual salad.
- Place the kale in a large bowl and add the 1 tablespoon of olive oil, along with 1 tablespoon of the dressing. Then, use your hands to massage the kale for at least 30 seconds, which will help break down the bitterness of it.
- Add the remaining salad ingredients to the bowl, then pour the rest of the dressing on top and use kitchen tongs to toss everything together. NOTE: if you're preparing this in advance, wait to add the dressing until you're ready to serve; otherwise, the kale will get soggy.
UPDATE NOTE: This recipe was originally published in November 2016. It was updated with new text and photos in December 2021.