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Kale Salad with Sunflower Seed Pesto and Apricots

This emerald green kale salad with sunflower seed pesto and apricots is one flavorful healthy salad! The kale is massaged with lemon juice and zest and the apricots are soaked in white wine and sherry vinegar. Toss in some toasted sunflower seeds and sharp aged cheese and you’re ready to go!

closeup of kale salad with apricots in wooden bowl with salad tong

Kale likes a good massage. It wants a rubdown from your fingers to be happy. There’s nothing like a minute of friction to transform kale from rough and bitter-strong to pliant and downright addictive. Don’t worry about damaging the leaves, kale actually benefits from the massage.

I mean, one time I ordered a kale caesar salad at a restaurant in California. The large pieces of curly kale were practically inedible and I swear it took me an hour to eat the salad. If the chef had first massaged his chopped kale with a pinch of sea salt, it would have been a winning salad!

Be ready to get your hands in the emerald kale mix—be an awesome kale massager! It’s easy! Just sprinkle chopped kale with a pinch of salt, and maybe a squeeze of lemon. Then pick up the kale with both hands and squeeze between your fingers and palm. Release and pick up more kale, squeeze and release. Repeat until the kale is a brighter green and about one-third less volume.

More kale salad ideas:

  • Kale salads can have myriad variations. You can substitute other pesto varieties, like basil walnut pesto or my vegan walnut pesto. If you only have dried cherries or cranberries, substitute them for the dried apricots. Golden raisins or dates are also delicious with kale.
  • One of my favorite kale salads is the Mexican kale slaw in Love Real Food by Kathryne Taylor (affiliate link) of the fabulous Cookie and Kate blog.

**** This kale and sunflower seed pesto salad recipe makes more pesto than you will need to dress the salad. Save the remaining pesto for another use.

lacinato kale on white tea towel

This recipe was inspired by a salad served at an Outstanding in the Field dinner I attended several years back.

Make it a fabulous week–get in the kitchen and massage your kale!

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