This kale cucumber salad is citrusy, bright, and vitamin-packed. Crunchy kale is served alongside fresh cucumbers, orange wedges, and parmesan cheese.
So simple, yet so sophisticated, this is the kind of dish you’ll want to keep the ingredients around in your home. Because the kale is chopped finely and covered in a deceptively simple yet delicious citrus dressing, even the kale-haters in your home will want to go back for seconds.
This recipe is full of robust and full flavors and fits well into any brunch spread you may be preparing for your family or for guests.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Nutritious and delicious: This salad boasts a delicious taste while offering several nutritional benefits. The addition of kale and cucumber provide fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants, supporting overall health.
Versatile and flexible: This is a type of salad that you can enjoy at any time of year. It’s great as a side dish to your main course or a light meal on its own. You can also easily swap ingredients based on your preference or what’s in season.
Simple and quick: With a list of simple ingredients and easy-to-follow steps, this recipe is a breeze to prepare. It takes less than 30 minutes from start to finish, making it a perfect choice for a busy weeknight meal.
You’ll need the following ingredients to make this cucumber kale salad:
Kale: You can use either curly kale or baby kale for this recipe. If you opt for curly kale, ensure you massage it well to soften the leaves and enhance the flavor.
Cucumber: Fresh, crunchy cucumbers are key to this recipe. They lend a refreshing taste and texture to the salad.
Olive Oil: Use extra-virgin olive oil for a richer, more nuanced flavor. This oil type also brings health benefits like heart-healthy fats.
Parmesan Cheese: A bit of parmesan cheese adds a savory, umami flavor to the salad. If you prefer, you can substitute it with feta cheese for a Greek salad vibe.
Pepitas: Pepitas, or pumpkin seeds, add a crunchy texture and a dose of protein. You can substitute them with sunflower seeds, pine nuts, or even some chopped roasted red pepper for a twist.
How To Make Kale Cucumber Salad
Prepare the kale: Wash and dry the kale. With your fingers, massage the kale for 3-4 minutes, working to loosen the fibers in the leaves. Chop into small pieces and set aside.
Prepare the cucumber and orange: Peel the cucumber and slice into semicircles, roughly ½ inch in thickness. Pare the orange peel and section off into small slices. Set aside. Cut another orange in half and juice both halves.
Make the dressing: Place the olive oil, orange juice, salt, and pepper, in a jar and shake vigorously until well combined. Set aside.
Prepare the cheese: If using a block of parmesan, use the peeler to shave off thin slices.
Assemble: Place the kale, cucumber, and orange in a bowl. Add the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Toss with the salad dressing.
- For a next level salad, blend the dressing ingredients (olive oil, orange juice, salt, and pepper) in a food processor to emulsify them. This creates a more cohesive, flavorful dressing.
- Don’t skip this step! It may seem unusual, but massaging the kale breaks down its tough cell structure, yielding a softer, more palatable leaf.
- Use fresh ingredients whenever possible. Fresh kale, cucumber, oranges, and parmesan will elevate the overall taste of your salad.
Storage & Reheating
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. The kale in this salad is quite robust and will hold up well even when dressed. Reheating is not recommended as this salad is best enjoyed cold.
Additions & Substitutions
Grilled chicken or white beans would be a great addition for extra protein. You could also add cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, or red onion for additional flavor and color.
If you’re not a fan of parmesan, substitute it with feta cheese. You could also use lime juice instead of orange juice for a more tangy dressing.
What should I serve with this cucumber kale salad recipe?
This salad pairs wonderfully with a variety of dishes. You might serve it alongside a grilled chicken dish or a roasted red pepper and tomato soup. If you’re looking for a lighter option, a green smoothie would also complement this salad nicely. For a Mediterranean twist, serve this salad with fresh tomatoes, green onions, and a sprinkle of fresh herbs such as basil.
I can’t find pepitas. What else can I add to the salad?
Try pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, or sunflower seeds. Any of these would add a nice crunch to your dish.
Can I make this salad in advance?
Because the kale is hardy, this salad can sit dressed and be made in advance of when you plan to serve it. I recommend waiting to add the parmesan cheese until you are ready to serve the salad, as the dressing will cause it to lose its firm texture and sharp flavor.
Here are a few other salad recipes you might enjoy!
Kale Cucumber Salad
- 3 cups fresh kale
- 1 English cucumber
- A pinch of salt plus more to taste
- A pinch of ground pepper plus more to taste
- 2 oranges
- 1/3 cup shaved parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup pepitas
- Wash and dry 4 cups of fresh kale.
- With your fingers, massage the kale for 3-4 minutes.
- Chop kale into small pieces and set aside.
- Peel the cucumber and slice it into semicircles, roughly ½ inch in thickness.
- Peel an orange and section it off into small slices. Set aside.
- Cut the other orange in half and juice on both sides.
- Place the ½ cup olive oil, ¼ cup fresh orange juice, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of ground pepper in a jar with a tight-fitting lid.
- Shake vigorously until well combined. Set aside.
- If using a block of parmesan, use a peeler to shave off thin slices, creating roughly ⅓ cups.
- Place the kale, cucumber, and orange in a bowl.
- Add the cheese and the pepitas.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Toss with the salad dressing.
- Serve and enjoy!