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When Kay asked me to work up a refresh of kale salad I immediately said yes, though I decided not to mention that I am a dedicated kale salad hater. At least I used to be. After feeding myself and my family a truckload of kale salad over the last few weeks, I can say that I have come around. I am wholeheartedly on team kale salad.

I am grateful to Kay for  emphasizing the importance of MASSAGING. This cannot be skipped, this is the step that takes kale to delicious heights. We bonded on that point.

This is a hearty and filling salad for vegetarians, vegans and omnivores alike. As soon as you feel that first morning nip in the air, bring on the kale. Add farro, roasted sweet potato, toasted nuts, pickled onion, cheese—I went for ricotta salata’s briny kick, but if you prefer feta, go for it. Tuscan kale (also called Dinosaur kale) is my variety-of-choice, but other kinds will work too. Remove the tough ribs, slice the leaves into thin strips and massage massage massage!

It goes like this …


For the salad:

About 1½ cups sweet potato, peeled and diced

½ cup pepitas

1 cup uncooked farro, to make 2 cups cooked

8 oz ricotta salata, grated

1 bunch Tuscan kale

Juice of ½ a lemon

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 small red onion

About ½ cup apple cider vinegar

For the dressing:

Juice of 2 limes

4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

4 tablespoons maple syrup

½ cup olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon black pepper


Give yourself a day or a few hours ahead of your meal to prepare the components that need to cool or pickle.  

Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC).

Peel sweet potato and cube into large dice, about ¾″. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread evenly in one layer on a sheet pan and roast till tender, but not mushy, about 15 minutes.

Spread pepitas on a sheet pan and toast while the sweet potatoes are roasting, about 6 minutes. Be very careful not to burn them, they toast quickly.

Set the sweet potatoes and pepitas aside to cool.

While the roasting is happening, cook the farro according to package directions and set aside to cool.

Slice the red onion as thinly as possible—use a mandoline if you have one. Put the onion in a bowl or jar with ½ teaspoon each sugar and salt and add just enough of the apple cider vinegar to cover. Stir and set aside for 10 mins or longer. (You can reuse this quick pickling liquid again and again if kept in the refrigerator.)

When you’re ready to assemble the salad, whisk in a bowl (or shake in a jar) all the dressing ingredients. Set aside.

Wash your kale leaves and give them a good shake to remove water, they don’t need to be bone dry. Remove the ribs. Stack the leaves by 3 or 4 and slice crosswise into very thin slices—aim for no thicker than ¼″ wide. Put them in a large bowl (big enough to hold all the salad components).  

Once all the kale is sliced, add the lemon, salt and olive oil—massage and toss vigorously for about 2 minutes.  

Add the farro, sweet potatoes, onion, pepitas and cheese to the kale bowl. Add about half the dressing and toss to combine. Taste for seasoning. Add more dressing if you like.

Serve immediately or chill and serve later, even the next day. Serves 4–6.

Note: If you’re serving the salad the day after you prepare it, you will find that the farro deliciously soaks up the dressing. Add more if you like. Any leftover dressing should be refrigerated and used to build more dressing for all your future kale salads!

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About The Author

For Sarah Ross, everyday cooking is about winging it—with a classic or an old favorite recipe given to her by a friend. These are the recipes that get stained with spills from being on repeat, the ones to share.


  • Sounds amazing! Can’t wait to try it.

  • Sounds delicious, perfect for the Fall CSA shares from a local farm (Amber Waves) that I pick up. Thanks Sarah!

  • Off to hunt for the dinosaur!
    Massaging kale might win out over knitting black yarn at the moment!!! And in San Antonio TX we might not get to 90 today so it’s fall y’all!!
    Everyone make it a good day today!!
    Wait…is it the day the Cowl repeat video is released…another reason to put down this black yarn!!

  • Is pin head oatmeal the same as steel cut oatmeal?

    • Pin head is a little finer and cooks more quickly, but still has a nice texture.

  • This looks good. My garden is full of chard, not kale, but it should work. Don’t know that it needs a long massage, however. Thanks for the recipe!

    • I love raw chard too and yep, no need to massage.

  • Just today I noticed the “Print It” option for recipes – I LOVE it!!

  • This salad!! I subbed butternut squash for sweet potato and feta for ricotta salata because that’s what I had. Reeeeaaaaallly hit the spot. This is going on the fall rotation. Dynamite!! Thank you Sarah!!

    • Me too on the subs – going to have it tonight!

  • I love kale salad!

  • Wow! Delicious! Yummy in my tummy! Thank you for this great recipe! Will definitely be making this again. And thanks for the Ricotta Salata tip…it is excellent and a great mellow change from feta.

  • Love the pickled onions! Can’t wait to make this.

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