Disclaimer: This Vegan Massaged Kale and Apple Winter Salad was created in partnership with Ontario Apple Growers. I love supporting local growers whenever I can, and with OAG, I’ve learned so much about the amazing work apple farmers do! Thanks for reading and supporting The Viet Vegan <3
This year has really been even more apple-obsessive than ever. I already posted an apple crisp recipe because it was too good not to share, but I’ve also made about four GIANT batches of apple sauce over the last couple months because I found it to be my favourite pre-workout fuel that’s not too heavy to downward-dog with. This year I got to go on another apple tour with Ontario Apple Growers and I learned how difficult it is to be an apple farmer. I shared a bunch of stuff on my Instagram story highlights if you wanted to learn more about the challenges of apple farming, and also to see the cool machines like a hail cannon or a frost fan that help keep the crop safe. Apple orchards are surprisingly really fragile and difficult to maintain so it’s amazing that we’re even able to have so many local apples available here.
Lately I’ve been really digging kale salads, and that’s saying something considering I’m typically not much of a salad person. They’re usually just too light and boring, but the key is adding tons of texture and fibre from various ingredients! Massaged kale just adds a lot of fibre, tenderness and substance to a salad that I find fresh spring greens don’t tend to give me. Plus, now that it’s chillier, I’m craving all the fall flavoured foods, like roasted butternut squash and apples.
I’ve been trying to meal prep a little more (but not nearly as intensely as the typical meal prepper), but with salads, I find that if I prepare the components ahead of time, I’m more likely to have a decent salad that isn’t just greens and dressing. Don’t like, we’ve all done that before.
One of my latest obsessions has been dousing my oven roasted vegetables with maple syrup. Not too much, but just enough to get that smoky sweet flavour on some roasted squash. Adding some chili flakes adds a touch of heat that adds a nice savoury touch to this salad. Roasting the squash ahead of time also means that I’m less likely to have a sad, mouldy butternut squash on my counter, judging me for not using it before it went off. I’ve started to get more honest with myself when it comes to knowing if I -actually- will eat that bag of greens I bought (instead of aspiring to eat it and then forgetting about it and letting it die a sad, wasteful death in the back of my fridge).
So yes, prepping food ahead of time means I’m more likely to eat it and less likely to waste it. Hopefully you folks are better at that than I am, because the guilt I feel when I go to compost the sad, forgotten mystery foods is pretty unbearable, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone! Especially since I know how much effort, time, and money went into growing and making the food in the first place.
The massaged kale takes about 10 minutes of labour to wash, shred, and spin the greens, but the tender, massaged bed of leafy goodness is so worth it in the end. When you massage ahead of time, the kale will last about 3 days in the fridge, but if you’re prepping for more than 3 days, I would recommend leaving it undressed and massaging half of it at the beginning of the week, and then doing the second half once Wednesday rolls around. Honestly, you don’t even need to massage it if you like fresh, raw kale, but massaging it really does make it much better.
Any good salad is incomplete without some sort of savoury protein, and in this case I opted for a smokey chickpea, that’s tender (although you could bake it if you wanted them to be crispy). Just a quick pan fry to get all the flavours into the chickpeas and you have a delicious protein that lasts well in the fridge. You could also just have them plain if you’re lazy, but I highly recommend cooking them with this smokey marinade if you can. Plus the smokeyness really helps tie the butternut squash into the salad, since they both have a touch of maple syrup sweetness.
And last but certainly not least, some apple goodness. I always like a fresh component in my salads, and to balance the sweetness in both the chickpeas and the butternut squash, I chose sweet-tart McIntosh apples, but you could easily pick any nice and sweet-tart apple. Ontario Apples has a usage chart that helps you determine which apple is better for which application. I tend to pull it up when I’m out shopping because there are so many local varieties to choose from that I often forget which would be a good choice. You could also use Empire, Red Prince, Jonagold or Idared for this salad, but you can use your favourite apple if you like too. I find the tartness helps balance everything really well.
Since there’s a bit of dressing from massaging the kale, I don’t find it needs much of a dressing except for a splash of lemon juice to keep the apples from browning and to just tie everything together. Despite it being a relatively light salad, it’s surprisingly very satisfying because of the varied texture and satisfying components. So I hope you enjoy this and get to enjoy tons of local apples this year!
Disclaimer: This Vegan Massaged Kale and Apple Winter Salad is sponsored by Ontario Apple Growers. Thanks for reading and supporting The Viet Vegan!
- 1 large bunch of kale, stemmed, washed and spun, torn into bite-sized pieces or shredded
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
Chili Maple Roasted Butternut Squash
- 1 medium butternut squash, seeded, peeled, then cubed
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp chili flakes
- 1 can of chickpeas (540 mL or 18 fl oz can), rinsed and drained well
- 3 tbsp tamari
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- Sliced local Ontario Apples (I used Macintosh here, but any tart, crisp apple would be great)
- Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
- Lemon Juice
- Massage kale with olive oil, salt, and lemon juice until tender. The more you massage, the easier it will be to eat and digest (the bitterness will subside as well). Once massaged, set aside in a container and put in the fridge.*
Chili Maple Roasted Butternut Squash
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- On a lined baking sheet, combine cubed butternut squash, maple syrup, vegetable oil and chili flakes and mix well to coat evenly.
- Bake for 25 min, turn, then bake for another 10-15 until you have tender squash with lightly browned edges. If you bake too long, the maple syrup might take a burnt flavour.
- Remove from oven and let cool.
- In a pan over medium heat, cook chickpeas and toss with tamari, smoked paprika, maple syrup and vegetable oil. Cook until the liquid has cooked off and soaked into the chickpeas (about 4-5 min). Transfer to a container to cool.
- Prepare the apples by slicing or chopping and then tossing in lemon juice to prevent them from oxidizing.
- Assemble the salads by layering massaged kale, roasted butternut squash, chickpeas, sliced Ontario apples, and pumpkin seeds. If you need more dressing, add lemon juice or your favourite light vinaigrette, but everything is seasoned so really all you need is a bit of lemon juice to brighten everything up.
*If you want the kale to last more than 3 days in the fridge, massage the kale the day you wish to eat it and store the undressed shredded kale in an airtight container.