My man-approved Chopped Kale Salad is chock full of savory salami, sharp cheddar cheese, pepperoncini, Kalamata olives, and cucumbers. Dressed with a delicious homemade honey Dijon vinaigrette, this kale salad makes a delicious side salad and is even hearty enough to make a meal of itself.
Salty and sweet, this kale salad keeps well in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days even after it’s been dressed. It’s a great make ahead salad to “munch and lunch” on throughout the week.
I first shared this easy recipe in my book, The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook, but today I’m adding a few more ingredients to amp up the salad for even more delicious flavor.
Chopped Kale Salad
Who doesn’t love a good chopped salad? For starters, everything is already chopped up small, so it’s easier to eat while getting bits of all the flavors on your fork at one time.
Some of my favorite chopped salad recipes—like this Chopped Mediterranean Salad with Arugula from a little bistro we visited in Virginia—were inspired by restaurant menus.
Likewise, today’s recipe follows the same technique of the popular Tuscan kale salad from The Tavern Restaurant in Nashville, Tennessee. I think the Tavern’s salad is absolutely superb, and one thing I love about it is how finely the kale is chopped—it’s almost the consistency of tabbouleh!
Some salad recipes like my Chicken Kale Caesar Salad instruct you to massage the kale leaves to make them more tender and easier to eat.
That’s not necessary when you chop or shred the kale into smaller pieces. Not only do you end up with an easier to eat salad, it requires less dressing and that’s a good thing!
- A bunch of kale — I normally use curly kale, but Tuscan kale (Lacinato or dino kale) is fine, too.
- Italian dry-cured salami—not sliced, instead purchase a salami stick so you can chop into cubes
- Sharp white cheddar cheese—or another sharp flavored cheese
- English cucumber—halve and scoop out the seeds with a spoon
- Pepperoncini—or banana pepper rings
- Pitted Kalamata olives—sliced in half crosswise
- White wine vinegar—the acid for the vinaigrette, may also use red wine vinegar or champagne vinegar
- Honey—for a bit of sweetness in the vinaigrette
- Dijon mustard—I like using a stone-ground Dijon like Trader Joe’s
- Extra-virgin olive oil—to balance out the vinaigrette
- Sea salt—to enhance the flavor
- Freshly ground black pepper—to garnish the salad at the end.
Really, the skies the limit with this salad. Take stock of what you have and then mix and match until you have the combo you like best. Here are a few ideas to help you get started:
- Substitute turkey in place of the dry-aged salami for a healthier salad
- Try freshly shaved Parmesan cheese instead of the sharp cheddar
- Swap out the pepperoncini and olives for dried cranberries and chopped apples for a sweeter salad
- For a little crunch, toss in a few toasted almonds, walnuts, or pine nuts
- Raid the fridge and toss in any of the following ingredients if you have them on hand: carrots, artichoke hearts, or grape tomatoes.
How to chop kale for salads
Making sure the kale is chopped fine is the secret to the pleasing texture in Chopped Kale Salad. Here’s my easy technique:
- Tear the leaves away from the tough stem, or use a sharp knife to remove the ribs (see the photo above).
- Break the leaves into pieces and place them in a colander; rinse with cool running water.
- Dry the kale leaves in a salad spinner to remove excess water.
- Place the dry kale leaves in a food processor and pulse or chop into bite-size pieces, or until the desired consistency. Don’t overstuff the food processor bowl; you’ll want to chop the kale in batches.
PRO TIP: If you end up with more chopped kale than you need for today’s recipe, store the leftovers in a ziplock bag or airtight container and insert a paper towel to soak up any extra moisture. The kale will stay fresher longer and will be ready to use in other salads or smoothies.
- Chop the kale and place in a large salad bowl. Cut the salami, white cheddar cheese, and English cucumber into small cubes and toss into the bowl along with the kale.
- Chop pepperoncini and slice the Kalamata olives and add to the bowl with the kale salad greens.
- In a small bowl, whisk together white wine vinegar, honey, and Dijon mustard.
- Slowly add olive oil while whisking vigorously until emulsified. Season the vinaigrette with salt and pepper, if desired.
- Toss the bowl of salad with enough vinaigrette to lightly coat the greens. Garnish with freshly ground black pepper and serve.
Eating kale is good for you
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Kale is a nutrition superstar due to the amounts of vitamins A, K, B6 and C, calcium, potassium, copper and manganese it contains. One cup of raw kale has just 33 calories and only 7 grams of carbohydrate.”
This hearty Chopped Kale Salad with Salami and a quick homemade honey Dijon vinaigrette is chock full of delicious bites of sharp cheddar cheese, cucumbers, pepperoncini, and Kalamata olives.
- 5 cups kale, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup Italian dry-cured salami, diced
- 1 cup aged sharp white cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes
- 1/2 cup English cucumber, cut into small cubes
- 1/2 cup banana pepper rings, chopped
- 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, sliced in half
- Remove kale leaves from stems, rinse, and spin dry in a salad spinner. Chop into small pieces (see tip).
- Whisk together white wine vinegar, honey, and Dijon mustard. Slowly add olive oil while whisking vigorously until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
- Toss kale, salami, cheese, cucumber, banana peppers, and olives with enough vinaigrette to lightly coat the greens. Garnish with freshly ground black pepper and serve.
Place kale in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to quickly chop into small bite size pieces.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 581Total Fat: 46gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 29gCholesterol: 92mgSodium: 1574mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 5gSugar: 12gProtein: 23g
Sheila Thigpen, author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook, is a recipe developer, food photographer, and food writer. She spent 20+ years as a business manager in the publishing industry before she retired in 2018 to focus on her passions — cooking, photography, and writing. Living near the beautiful Smoky Mountains, Sheila and her husband have two adult daughters and two fine sons-in-law, are active in their church, love to travel, and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. Follow Sheila on YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!