This Kale Salad with Apples, Fennel, Pomegranates and Pecans is a kale salad for those who don’t like kale salads. (Is it legal to put the word “kale” in a sentence three times?) Honestly, though, the kale is tender, the dressing is slightly sweet and with crunch from the apples, fennel, and pecans, this is an all around winner.
I believe we all have an innate pull toward colorful, nutrient-dense food. Maybe this pull has been dormant for a very long while or perhaps it can’t be felt nor heard next to the more boisterous voice of preference (of the “I don’t like vegetables” variety). But I do believe it’s there. This salad is one of those dishes that my body is drawn to from the moment I look at it thanks to its vibrant colors and variety.
Now, if you’re not feeling the pull toward kale, there may be a scientific reason! Last year, I read a few articles (here’s one by Scientific American) on how bacteria and yeast in the gut can actually influence our cravings and eating habits. This totally fascinated me, because I absolutely lived it!
When my gut was imbalanced – too much pathogenic bacteria and candida (yeast), but not enough beneficial bacteria – I craved sugar, refined carbohydrates, and mass amounts of carbohydrates in general. I couldn’t go 2-3 hours without feeling the need to eat again. Now? My body craves the good stuff. It craves what brings me energy, keeps my mood, hunger and weight stable, and what promotes health. It craves fats, produce of all varieties and colors, quality meats and fermented foods.
I don’t mean to over simplify cravings into this one cause, but it could be a piece of the puzzle if you struggle with intense food cravings. The insanely small organisms in your gut may just be sending your brain food messages that benefit them and not your body.
Personally, I rebalanced my gut by following the GAPS diet (don’t think of diet in the negative sense) while also very drastically reducing my sugar in take to get a hold of the candida overgrowth. I got rid of the pathogenic bacteria’s food source, sugar, ate a lot of probiotic-rich foods and healed my gut. . It may feel like a fight at first, but I promise you it doesn’t last long. Eventually those cravings go away.
This salad is a wonderful one to enjoy in the fall and winter months when pomegranates, apples, fennel and kale are all in season.
Pomegranate seeds take to freezing very well, so I typically buy a whole bag of these beauties, spend the time to remove the seeds of all of them in one big lot and them freeze them. (The Kitchn has a great article on removing the seeds easily.) Alternatively, I’ve seen pomegranate seeds at the market many times with the work already done.
The kale is tender in this salad thanks to the extra step of massaging it with olive oil. Despite being tenderized, this is the perfect dish to make ahead of time for when entertaining or for lunch the next day. The kale doesn’t get soggy.
- Olive Oil – I opt for olive oil grown and packaged here – California Olive Ranch.
Special Diet Modifications:
- GAPS & SCD – As you probably know, raw kale and other members of the brassica family should be eating sparingly as gently cooking these foods is optional for digestion and nutrient absorption. While our guts are in a healing process, this is an important consideration.
Kale Salad with Apples & Fennel
This Kale Salad with Apples, Fennel, Pomegranates and Pecans is a kale salad for those who don't like kale salads - the kale is tender, the dressing is slightly sweet and with crunch from the apples, fennel, and pecans, this is an all around winner of a salad. Kale holds up well to dressing, which makes this an ideal salad to make ahead of time for company. Leftovers keep for a day. This recipe makes 2 large portions or 4 small portions.
- 5 packed cups Green Leafy Kale (roughly 7 large leaves) shredded, shred before measuring
- juice of 1/2 Lemon
- 1 medium Sweet Apple (honeycrisp, pink lady, fuji, etc.) diced into small cubes
- 1 small Fennel Bulb core removed, thinly sliced
- 1 Pomegranate seeds removed
- 1/2 cup Pecans toasted if possible
- 3 tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil divided
- 2 tsp 100% Pure Maple Syrup
- 1 tsp Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
- 1/4 tsp Sea or Himalyan Salt
- 1 tbs Poppy Seeds optional
Make the dressing by whisking together 2 tablespoons of olive oil (The other will be reserved for the kale), maple syrup, vinegar, dijon, salt and poppy seeds. Set aside.
Destem the kale and chop thinly into strands, "shredding it". Place it in a bowl and pour in the remaining olive oil (1 tablespoon), the lemon, and a small pinch of salt. Using your hands, gently massage the kale with the olive oil, lemon and salt until all the leaves are covered.
Prepare the apples and fennel. When ready, toss the remaining salad ingredients in with the kale, pour in the dressing and toss.
Optional - top with some of the feathery tops of the fennel, roughly chopped.