This kale and spinach salad features nutrient-dense dark leafy greens, crisp apples, sharp white cheddar cheese, crunchy candied walnuts and a luscious fig balsamic dressing. This salad is healthy comfort food at its absolute finest. In this post, I’ll show you exactly how to make it, variation ideas and what to serve with this perfect salad!

Large platter of kale and spinach topped with apple slices, candied walnuts and sharp cheddar cheese.

Before we dive into the ingredients needed let’s talk about the reasons to love this kale and spinach salad.

Incredible nutrition benefits of this kale salad recipe:

Listen, I know I’ve got some kale haters out there. Common complaints include too bitter, too chewy and an overall tough pill to swallow. Literally. But here’s the thing- kale is a nutrient powerhouse. One 100g serving of kale provides 35 calories, 3 grams protein, 4 grams fiber and an abundance of phytonutrients like Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Calcium and Iron.(source)

Kale also provides a variety of tremendously helpful antioxidants (like quercetin and kaempferol) which protect against chronic disease, support heart health, slow the growth of cancer cells and ease inflammation.(source)

And widely considered the runner-up for the most nutrient-dense dark leafy green vegetable? Spinach, of course.

So what I’m trying to say here is Kale AND Spinach salad? = health, my friends.

Some vegetables need just a little more love than others to make them taste amazing, so that’s what we’re going to do.

Hand massaging a bowl of kale

Tips for making kale taste great:

  • Slice it thin. I like to remove the leaves from the ribs, stack them on top of each other and use a sharp chef’s knife to thinly slice the kale leaves into ribbons.
  • Give it a massage. We all feel better after a massage, right? Rubbing the kale with a touch of oil or lemon juice breaks down its fibrous texture making it less chewy, less bitter and more palatable.
  • Dress it up. Gone are the days I would avoid salad dressing for fear of the calories or fat. A simple dressing made with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil not only provides amazing flavor but increases nutrient absorption. I am particularly fond of this fig balsamic dressing.
ingredients for the recipe

What you need to make it:

Kale: any variety of kale you like! I used both purple curly kale and Tuscan kale. Tuscan kale is also referred to as Dinosaur kale or Lacinato kale. You could also use baby kale, which is more tender and not as high-maintenance.

Spinach: I love buying the triple-washed baby spinach to make this recipe ultra-quick and easy.

Apple: any variety of apples will work but I love using honey crisp, Fuji or pink lady apples.

Extra sharp white cheddar: extra sharp white cheddar pairs perfectly with apple and walnut, making a lovely trifecta of flavor and crunch. You can find this type of cheddar at any grocery store in the cheese aisle.

Walnuts: this recipe calls for lightly candied walnuts, but you can also use regular walnuts. I would recommend buying them roasted or toasting them for a few minutes in a dry skillet just to give that extra depth of flavor.

Fig balsamic dressing: this simple vinaigrette combines balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, Dijon mustard, fig jam, a garlic clove and salt and pepper for a perfectly luscious and flavorful dressing. You can find fig jam at most grocery stores. I like the fig butter from Trader Joe’s.

small glass pot of the balsamic fig dressing used on the salad

How to make:

Remove the kale leaves from the ribs. I like to start at the bottom and run my hand down in one swift motion to remove the leaves. Rinse the bunch of kale thoroughly and air dry or use a salad spinner to remove moisture. Stack the leaves and thinly slice.

Place the kale in a large bowl and drizzle with a teaspoon of olive oil and a little salt. Using your hands rub the oil into the kale, massaging it for 3-4 minutes until softened and glossy. Prep/chop the other salad ingredients. I aim for uniform bite-sized pieces. Add the spinach leaves, chopped apple, cubed sharp white cheddar, and roughly chopped walnuts and toss gently to combine.

Whisk or blend together the dressing ingredients.

Drizzle dressing over the salad. Add a few cracks of black pepper. DIG IN.

dressing being poured on the kale and spinach salad

Variation Ideas:

Switch up the fruit: this salad is amazing with fresh blueberries, dried cranberries, dried cherries and fresh or dried figs.

Add more protein: bulk up the protein in this salad by adding grilled chicken breast or shrimp, roasted chickpeas or a hard-boiled egg.

Vary the cheese: Use parmesan, unexpected cheddar, goat cheese or ahem, fried feta? Yes please.

Bulk up the veggies: other vegetables that would go beautifully on this salad include thinly sliced red onion, roasted sweet potato cubes, purple cabbage or any and all fresh herbs.

plated salads drizzled with dressing

FAQs:

How should I store this salad if I have leftovers?

This salad is fabulous for meal prep! I would recommend storing all the components separately. For example: each in its own airtight container in the fridge- dark leafy greens, chopped apple (spritzed with lemon to prevent browning), cubed cheese. Keeps 4 days. Store walnuts in an airtight container at room temp.

Can I use a different type of cheese?

Absolutely. This hearty kale salad is great with goat cheese, feta cheese or parmesan cheese.

What if I’m allergic to nuts?

Omit the walnuts and use sunflower seeds, hemp seeds or pepitas.

Is this a side salad or an entreé salad?

Either! I love it as a side salad but very commonly eat this solo as my lunch.

small brown bowls with kale and spinach salad

What to Serve with Kale and Spinach salad:

If you love this delicious salad, you’ll love these other leafy greens:

Watch how to make:

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Platter of kale and spinach salad with balsamic fig dressing

Kale and Spinach Salad with Apples and White Cheddar

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  • Author: Erica
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: N/A
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 2 servings 1x
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Chop
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

This kale and spinach salad is nutrient-dense comfort food at its finest. I’m not being dramatic when I tell you I could eat this for lunch every day!


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 bunch kale (curly, green, purple, Tuscan, etc), leaves removed from ribs and thinly sliced
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 apple, cubed
  • 3 oz extra sharp white cheddar cheese, cubed
  • 1/2 cup candied walnuts, roughly chopped
  • Balsamic fig dressing

Instructions

Place the kale in a large bowl and drizzle with a teaspoon of olive oil and add a pinch of salt. Using your hands rub the oil into the kale, massaging it for 3-4 minutes until softened and glossy. Add the spinach leaves, apple, sharp white cheddar, walnuts and toss gently to combine.

Whisk or blend the balsamic fig dressing.

Drizzle dressing over the salad. Add a few cracks of black pepper. DIG IN.


Notes

For ingredient substitutions, FAQs and variation ideas refer to the above blog post.

Nutrition information is an estimate and may vary.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/2 recipe + 2 tablespoons dressing
  • Calories: 508
  • Sugar: 11.5 g
  • Sodium: 214 mg
  • Fat: 44.9 g
  • Carbohydrates: 20 g
  • Protein: 12.4 g
  • Cholesterol: 28.1 mg

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