Kale Chopped Salad with Maple-Almond Vinaigrette


Kale Chopped Salad with Maple-Almond Vinaigrette is mind-blowingly delicious!

Kale Chopped Salad with Maple-Almond Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com

Call me crazy but I’m one of those people who likes their spaghetti sauce ladled on top of their pasta. I know I’m probably in the minority on this, but I just prefer to stir it up myself, thankyouverymuch!

Ben’s a mix it up in the pot kinda guy, and thinks my way is absolutely nuts, so spaghetti night at our house can be kind of an ordeal. First I have to take my share of un-sauced pasta, always wanting more than I should but refraining because then it appears there’s not a lot left in there for him. Then I ladle sauce on top, take some garlic bread (GOT to have garlic bread!) and go sit down. And wait.

And wait and wait and wait.

Meanwhile Ben’s still at the pot scooping one spoonful of sauce after another into the remaining pasta until he’s achieved the ideal pasta-to-sauce ratio. By the time he’s made it to the table my garlic bread’s long gone and now I want some of his. Heaven forbid he’s left some pasta back in the pot because now what’s to become of it?! He doesn’t like leftover sauced pasta and, as I’ve just covered, I don’t like pre-sauced pasta.

Told you. Chaos!

All is not lost, however. One dish I am totally on board with throwing together then tossing like a tornado before chowing is chopped salads like the Kale Chopped Salad with Maple-Almond Vinaigrette I made for a stellar lunch yesterday!

Kale Chopped Salad with Maple-Almond Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com

Fresh lacinato kale, shaved brussels sprouts, fried shallots, dried cranberries, crumbled bacon, sliced almonds, and parmesan cheese are all chopped into bite-sized pieces then toss, toss, tossed with a luscious, homemade maple-almond vinaigrette. Since each ingredient is the roughly the same size, each bite of this salad is PACKED with delicious flavor!!

Kale Chopped Salad with Maple-Almond Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com

I had a version of this salad last weekend at The Westside Local (can you tell how much I loved that place?!) and knew after finishing my last bite that it wouldn’t be my last. While The Westside chopped all the toppings together in almost a chicken salad-type fashion, dolloping it on top of torn kale, I mixed everything together including the kale chop-salad style, which I loved even more. This salad takes a little bit of effort to make but it is so, so fabulous!

Start by making the Maple-Almond Vinaigrette. The Westside Local served their salad with a maple-tahini vinaigrette, but I didn’t have tahini on hand and didn’t want to buy a whole jar just for this dressing. Almond butter was a perfect sub!

In a small bowl whisk together 1 Tablespoon real maple syrup, 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, and 2 Tablespoons almond butter.

Kale Chopped Salad with Maple-Almond Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com

My almond butter was from a new jar so it was super drippy and smooth, but if yours is cold, zap the vinaigrette in the microwave for 15-20 seconds to help get it started. Once it’s all mixed up, stash the vinaigrette in the fridge while you get chop-happy with the rest of the ingredients.

Kale Chopped Salad with Maple-Almond Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com

Begin with 4 strips bacon (unpictured.) Cook then crumble however you see fit. I usually lay mine on a nonstick-sprayed cooling rack set atop a foil-lined baking sheet then pop into a cold oven, set the temp to 400 degrees, and then bake for 15-17 minutes flipping halfway through.

Meanwhile, get some shallots ready for some shallow fryin’. Peel then slice 2 large shallots into thin rings and separate.

Kale Chopped Salad with Maple-Almond Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com

Heat 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat (I’d say a 6 out of 10 on the heat scale) then add half the shallots and fry until golden brown. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain then continue with remaining shallots. Give ’em all a light sprinkle of salt then set aside.

Kale Chopped Salad with Maple-Almond Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com

Next shave some brussels sprouts! I thought the idea of adding shaved brussels sprouts into this salad was just brilliant on The Westside’s part. Shaved brussels provide an awesome crunch, and signature flavor. Loved ’em in here!

First trim the ends off 2 cups brussels sprouts then remove any outer leaves that fall away. Next, starting at the green end, very thinly slice the sprouts until you reach the hard white core end. The thinner –> the better. If you have a mandolin that’d work great.

Kale Chopped Salad with Maple-Almond Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com

Separate the shreds then place them into a big bowl.

Kale Chopped Salad with Maple-Almond Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com

Pull out any of the tough white core pieces and discard.

Kale Chopped Salad with Maple-Almond Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com

Now turn your attention to the kale. This is lacinato kale, which I have not used before and am now madly in love with. It’s not as tough to eat as curly kale (no face-whipping pieces) and more tender, in my opinion. I had this type of kale in another salad I had up in Kansas City, and liked it a ton.

Kale Chopped Salad with Maple-Almond Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com

Strip the kale from the tough rib in the center then chop into small, bite-sized pieces and add to the bowl.

Kale Chopped Salad with Maple-Almond Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com

Next add all the goodies! 1/4 cup sliced almonds and 1/4 cup dried cranberries (1/2 chopped apple in place of the dried cranberries would be divine in here.)

Kale Chopped Salad with Maple-Almond Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com

1/4 cup fresh-grated parmesan cheese and the cooked –> crumbled bacon.

Kale Chopped Salad with Maple-Almond Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com

Finally add the fried shallots on top.

Kale Chopped Salad with Maple-Almond Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com

Drizzle in some of the Maple-Almond Vinaigrette then toss to combine, and enjoy!

Kale Chopped Salad with Maple-Almond Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com

Kale Chopped Salad with Maple-Almond Vinaigrette

serves 2


Kale Chopped Salad with Maple-Almond Vinaigrette is mind-blowingly delicious!


  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • salt
  • 2 cups Brussels sprouts
  • 4 cups lacinato kale, ribs removed and finely chopped (about 1 bunch)
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries or 1/2 chopped fresh apple
  • 4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • For the Maple-Almond Vinaigrette:
    • 2 Tablespoons creamy almond butter (or tahini)
    • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    • 1 Tablespoon real maple syrup
    • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil


  1. For the Maple-Almond Vinaigrette: Whisk together almond butter (or tahini,) balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, and olive oil in a small bowl. Microwave for 15-20 seconds to help get almond butter smooth, if necessary. Set aside in the refrigerator.
  2. Heat olive oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat (6 out of 10.) Add half the shallots then fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain then repeat with remaining shallots. Sprinkle with salt then set aside.
  3. Trim ends off Brussels sprouts then remove outer leaves. Shave sprouts very thinly on a mandolin or slice very thinly with a knife, starting at the green end and stopping just before reaching the white, hard end. The thinner the better. Toss to separate shreds then remove any big pieces of tough white core.
  4. Combine shaved sprouts in a large bowl with kale, almonds, parmesan cheese, dried cranberries (or apples,) crumbled bacon, and fried shallots then toss with Maple-Almond Vinaigrette and serve.

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.

Kale Chopped Salad with Maple-Almond Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com

Ok, forget smoked gouda – this salad is ma jam! I wouldn’t skip a single ingredient in here, as you can pick out each and every flavor. Surprisingly the fried shallots were my favorite part. They get kind of sweet and caramelized and are fantastic with the smokey bacon, sweet dried cranberries, and crunchy, slightly-bitter brussels sprouts. Like I said, this salad is a stunner!

Kale Chopped Salad with Maple-Almond Vinaigrette | iowagirleats.com

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  1. Jess 07.10.2013

    In my single-girl days, I loved pouring cold marinara sauce over hot noodles. I like to mix them up myself AND there’s something about the temperature contrast that I loved. Can’t get my husband behind that one these days. ;) Chopped salads are absolutely the best though – all those flavors and textures in every bite!

  2. brittany 07.10.2013

    I have been craving kale for literally a week now and have either forgotten when at the store or haven’t had time to go!! After seein’ that salad…it is now my mission for today to GO TO THE STORE! Can’t wait!!

  3. This salad makes me so happy! You could eat this all throughout the fall too. Is it sad that I waited and waited for the arrival of summer only to decide that I want it to be fall instead? I need to learn how to live in the moment.

  4. Tieghan Gerard 07.10.2013

    I love the dressing!! Sound like the perfect combo with the kale!!

  5. Love this! I am on a serious kale kick lately and needed a few more simple dressing ideas. Great recipe!!!

  6. Aisha 07.10.2013

    This looks great! I just bought a bag if what I think is curly kale at TJs. Can I sub this or I need the giant prices? Is the kind you use called dinosaur kale? I’m not a kale fan, but your recipe may make me one. I read last week that its a food on dietitians top 10 so I will try to incorporate it.
    Your KC pics were great! I’m glad you are taking the time with B to do a lot of stuff before the baby comes! If I could go back in time, that’s what I would do! Travel and eat more!!

    Thanks, Aisha

    • Iowa Girl Eats 07.10.2013

      You could definitely use curly kale! I would just make sure it’s chopped up small and maybe massage it with your fingertips (really) for a few minutes to tenderize it.

  7. Katy 07.10.2013

    This looks delicious! You have the best recipes!!!

    I have a question about your bacon cooking method. I’ve never made it that way and would like to try. You said to put it in a cold oven and set the temp to 400 and cook for 15-17 minutes. Does the 15-17 minutes include the time it takes for the oven to heat up? When I put my oven on 400, it takes 10 minutes to heat until it is ready. So do I time the 15-17 minutes after that, or is it all included?
    :-) Thank you.

    • Iowa Girl Eats 07.10.2013

      It’s all included. I think my oven had just reached 400 degrees when the bacon had like 5 minutes left to cook!

      • Katy 07.10.2013

        OK…thank you!

  8. Becky 07.10.2013

    This reminds me of the pasta you posted a while ago that had kale, kalamata olives, dried cranberries etc. Kind of like the salad version :)

    I’ll have to give it a try!

  9. Erica G 07.10.2013

    I definitely prefer my spaghetti sauce ladled on top, but luckily so does my husband! This salad sounds amazing, it’ll be the third recipe of yours lately that I’ve written down to try soon. Thanks!

  10. Maureen Gribble 07.10.2013

    Looks fab! Question, in a previous kale salad recipe you talked about massaging the kale ahead of time but you don’t mention that here. Is it because of the type of kale you used? Just curious! Thanks!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 07.10.2013

      You got it! I found the lacinto kale to be much more tender than curly kale.

  11. Kristin D 07.10.2013

    FINALLY – someone else who doesn’t like stirring all the pasta together. BLECH. My husband thinks I’m bonkers – have fun determining which versions your little ones will eat someday, we still go rounds (all in good fun, of course) about whether they prefer mixed or non-mixed pasta… like toddlers seriously even have a clue at all?

    I’ve never had shaved brussels sprouts in a salad like this – can’t WAIT to try it!!

  12. this is making me crave kale. good job lady!

  13. Your pasta story is hilarious! I always have to try and refrain from taking more pasta because in our house the ratio to 2:1. For every 1 cup of pasta I get, my husband gets 2. Oh well, at least my waist line will thank me!

  14. Sandi 07.10.2013

    I have yet to find a restaurant that doesn’t serve the pasta under the sauce, not in it. You are definitely NOT in the minority. I think too many men ate far too much canned spaghetti.

  15. Erin 07.10.2013

    As a cooked kale hater, I rarely buy it because the rest of my family will not eat it. Raw, cooked, it doesn’t matter. I am going to forward this recipe to my Mom; she will make it and then I will go over there and eat it! :)

  16. Melissa 07.10.2013

    Wow, that salad looks great! Kale is one of my favorite foods and I especially loved the type of Kale you used. It holds up so well in salads and is even great on its own as kale chips!

  17. Katie 07.10.2013

    I am giving some very, very, very serious thought to this. I usually shy away from kale in salads, but this looks incredible. I… may have to change way ways!

  18. I’m shocked. I didn’t know anyone mixed pasta and sauce together before serving. Everyone I know serves the pasta and sauce separate. I didn’t know it was weird!

  19. Katie 07.10.2013

    For lazy people like me…costco has a great bagged kale mix (including brussle sprouts) that comes with a poppy seed dressing. Your recipe looks delish though! And I’m with you as far as spaghetti sauce on top!

  20. I think the sauce on top of the pasta is a Midwest thing…I grew up in Missouri eating it that way and my Kansas husband still wants his that way. BTW, this salad looks wonderful. It just may get me to eat kale and Brussels sprouts!

  21. You had me cracking up with your intro! I’m with you, sauce on top, all the way.
    Isn’t that how they do it in Italy?
    I’m so glad you decided to recreate this salad, I was drooling over it in your recap! I’ll definitely be making this one!

  22. Karen 07.10.2013


    I am the exactly the same way with my pasta. I hate pre-sauced pasta, I need to ladel it onto my cooked pasta also.

    I love your blog…

    Congrats on your new house and the upcoming birth of your little boy.

    Thanks for great blogging

  23. Sandra 07.10.2013

    I got lacinto kale in my organic box today. It looks beautiful, it’s local and so, so fresh! But, It usually throws me….I have trouble knowing what to do with kale. Then I remembered seeing your post on Facebook. I’m trying this tonight! Looks delish!

    • Sandra 07.10.2013

      So I did make the salad and it was excellent! I skipped the bacon (because I just spent a week with my father in law who made bacon every morning and I’ve sworn it off for the week), and I added grilled salmon drizzled in the salad dressing. I also toasted the almonds. Loved it! And it was my first real success with kale! Oh, and my husband, who “doesn’t like kale” ate it and I don’t think he knew that it wasn’t some sort of strange lettuce I brought home.

  24. Oh my goodness, I thought my husband and I were the only ones who cannot.function. together when spaghetti is involved (I’m so like you, he’s so like Ben). I think we could probably both get behind a dish like this salad, though — so much yumminess!

  25. I love this super nutritious, colorful salad! Pass me a plate full!

  26. Oh my goodness gracious this looks AMAZING. It will definitely be on my menu soon! I actually ate at The Westside Local in March when I was in Kansas City and looooved it (I was so excited when I saw that you had eaten there as well!). Isn’t the ambiance there just the best? I had their quinoa and it changed my life. SO GOOD. And I’m the same way with pasta; I prefer to mix it up myself!

  27. Tracy 07.10.2013

    All your praises of The Westside Local makes me want to make a trip down to mid-town tonight! Looks delish!

  28. Kathy 07.10.2013

    Looks great!
    As far as the Brussels sprouts, I have found it MUCH easier to shred them in the cuisinart rather than hand slicing (in the case of using a mandoline, that could be literal). Just drop them down the chute with the disk blade running. Works great when you are doing many for a slaw side dish, wonderful with balsamic vinegar.

  29. Brandi 07.10.2013

    Hey, I’m with you! I like my sauce ladled on top rather than pre-mixed :) Maybe it’s an Iowa thing? Love your blog & recipes also.

  30. The kale in my garden is growing like crazy this is the perfect way to use some of it! And we are totally sauce on top kind of people. Sometimes I’ll mix just a little bit in to keep the noodles from sticking together but otherwise we pile it all on top then mix. It’s the only way to do it really. :)

  31. Debtgirl 07.10.2013

    That looks crisp, fresh and delish!

  32. Cassidy 07.10.2013

    I think you’ve finally convinced me to make a kale salad! I’ve been on the fence for awhile and sticking with my romaine, spring mix and spinach salads, but I’m going to add kale to my next salad rotation. By the way, I think I’ve pinned every recipe you put up here. Your Bourbon Chicken Sanwiches sounded soooo good yesterday!!

  33. Emily S 07.10.2013

    THANK YOU – I had requested that you make a version for the blog. awesome!

  34. Nessa 07.10.2013


  35. Liz 07.10.2013

    Nice salad and healthy too. Thanks

  36. That vinaigrette sounds awesome! I can’t wait to try it :).

  37. Beth 07.10.2013

    I will eat spaghetti any way you serve it, but I HATE pre-made chocolate milk. I must try this type of kale & the salad as well! I love recreating restaurant salads! My favorite is called an Americana Salad with romaine, chicken, apples, bacon, blue cheese and a honey balsamic vinaigrette dressing….now if I could just recreate the breadstick served on top :)

  38. Niki 07.10.2013

    I can eat pasta either way but I always mix the remaining pasta with the remaining sauce after dinner, put it in the fridge and the next day I fry it in a little bit of butter. Don’t stir it at all, let the bottom get crispy and put a lid on top to warm the rest of the noodles. Flip it out onto a plate and add fresh cracked pepper. The noodles have soaked up the yummy sauce, they are crispy and soft at the same time, the butter and pepper just add to the flavor, best way to have leftover spaghetti!!

  39. Maegan @ The BakerMama 07.10.2013

    Stunning is right! What a beautiful salad! We always have kale and brussels on hand and the flavors in this salad sound incredible!

  40. Katie 07.10.2013

    I’ve been wanting to hop on the kale train lately, so this post really caught my eye. That recipe is quite intriguing, I must say. Thanks for the idea!

  41. Jane 07.10.2013

    I usually mix mine..whenever I do pasta on the bottom and sauce on top, it never seems like enough sauce! If I mix it in the pot I can tell if I need more pasta or not. That’s why I do it anyways, spaghetti is not good without enough sauce!:)

  42. What another great recipe! And the photos on this post for it are absolutely stunning!

  43. Ashley@lifeshealthycorners.blogspot.com 07.11.2013

    I went to The Westside Local yesterday after reading about it on your blog and I almost ordered this salad. It was a very difficult choice but I went with the arugula with walnut vinaigrette as a side salad and a cup of tomato fennel soup with a side of roasted beets. The waitress brought out a citris vinaigrette to dip the beets in and it was delicious! Thank you so much for the review that inspired me to try it out! I also tried out the Blue Bird Bistro for breakfast…good stuff!!!

  44. Diane 07.11.2013

    I made this tonight with a few substitutes for what I didn’t have on hand. No brussel sprouts, so I used some rainbow chard from our CSA. No shallots but fried some onions from the CSA as well- a sprinkle of salt and they were great! SUCH a good recipe- even my husband ate three servings and I didn’t think he’d go for this. Thanks for a great one!!

  45. droooolllllll

  46. […] Kale Chopped Salad with Maple Almond Vinaigrette (IowaGirlEats.com) […]

  47. […] If you’re interested in the original recipe, from Kristen, you can find it here –> Kale Chopped Salad with Maple Almond Vinaigrette  […]

  48. yevette lewis 07.16.2013

    My daughter forwarded this to me. I love your blog. Please put me on your on your mailing list. Thanks, Yevette

  49. Jennie M. 07.17.2013

    This is outstanding! I’ve made it twice this week with a few modifications based on the state of my fridge. Have used both field greens and spinach for the base and white balsamic vinegar is quite tasty in the dressing. Thanks for a great, simple recipe!

  50. […] that I had spent the time prepping and cooking didn’t turn out that great. Then I made this kale chopped salad with maple-almond vinaigrette . It was so yummy I couldn’t stop thinking about it. In fact, I’ll probably be eating […]

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