This Kale Salad is a delicious and healthy meal packed with fresh berries, crunchy pecan-crusted chicken, and salty Gouda cheese. This nutritious meal is topped with a homemade champagne vinaigrette that takes this dish to a whole new level!
There are few things as satisfying as a hearty salad filled with fresh, seasonal ingredients. This Kale salad fits the bill perfectly, it features fresh berries for a burst of sweetness, as well as aged Gouda that adds the perfect salty bite. To top things off it has crunchy pecan chicken and a sweet champagne vinaigrette. This is truly a dish that will wow a crowd!
Ingredients for Kale Salad
As always, this is a quick overview of the ingredients you need for this recipe. For the complete, printable recipe scroll to the recipe card below. To make the best Kale Salad with Chicken you will need:
- Kale: any variety of kale will work, but I prefer flat kale, this is known as Dinosaur, Lacinato, or Tuscan Kale.
- Berries: for this recipe, I use fresh blueberries and blackberries. You can use a mixture, or choose just one.
- Gouda: an aged gouda that has a strong flavor is recommended. In a pinch sharp white cheddar will work.
- Champagne Vinaigrette: olive oil, champagne vinegar, minced garlic, honey, dijon mustard, and salt.
- Chicken: boneless skinless chicken breast sliced thin, alternatively boneless chicken thighs will also work if you prefer. Whatever cut you use be sure they are cut into small, thin strips so they cook quickly. If you use very large chicken breast the pecans will burn before the center of the chicken has cooked through.
- Eggs and Honey Mustard: this is used to help the pecan breading adhere to the chicken.
- Pecans: crushed pecans are the star of this crunchy chicken. Some grocery stores offer crushed pecans, or you can use your food processor to make your own.
- Almond Flour: is also used in the breading.
- Spices: garlic powder, paprika, oregano, garlic salt.
- Butter: melted butter is brushed over the chicken to make sure the pecans are perfectly toasted instead of burning during the cooking process.
How to Make Kale Salad with Pecan Chicken
In addition to the ingredients listed above you will need a few bowls and a baking sheet. A food processor also makes crushing the pecans super easy. I’ve documented the entire process below so you can make this delicious salad at home.
Bread the Chicken
Set up a breading station. You will need two bowls, one will contain the eggs and honey mustard, and the second will contain the crushed pecans, almond flour, and spices. To bread the chicken add the chicken to the beaten egg and make sure it is completely coated.
Next, transfer the chicken to the pecan mixture. Use a clean fork to turn the chicken and lightly press the breading down as you go. This will help the larger chunks of pecan adhere to the chicken tenders. Once the chicken is completely covered place it on a greased baking sheet. Do your best to make sure the chicken doesn’t touch, and leave a little bit of room to ensure that no moisture is captured and the chicken has a chance to get nice and crispy.
Bake the Chicken
Once the chicken has been breaded and placed on a baking sheet gather any of the remaining pecan mixture and lightly press on top of the chicken. Trust me, you don’t want any of that deliciousness to go to waste! Next, melt the butter and brush the tops of the chicken with the butter and bake in a preheated 400-degree oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes carefully flip the chicken and bake for an additional 8-10 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
Massage the Kale
Yes, you read that correctly, we are going to give the kale a quick massage! While the chicken is cooking wash the kale and remove the tough stems. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over the kale and a smidge of sea salt. Next, use both of your hands to massage the kale. As you do this the kale will change from light green to a darker, richer color. Kale is known for being tough, and this step helps to break down the fibers and make it more pleasant to eat and easier for your body to digest. It is a quick 5 minutes step that greatly improves the taste and texture of your salad.
Prepare the Salad
Prepare the vinaigrette by combining the ingredients in a jar and shaking until combined. To make the salad top the kale with the blueberries, blackberries, and gouda. When the chicken is ready allow it to cool for a few minutes so it doesn’t wilt your salad. Add the chicken to the salad and drizzle the dressing to taste.
This salad contains fruits, vegetables, and protein. It is truly a well-balanced and complete meal! If you would like to serve this with anything on the side I suggest one of these great bread options:
- Keto Dinner Rolls: soft, fluffy and great warm, and buttered!
- Cheddar Bay Biscuits: a low-carb knock-off of your restaurant favorite!
- Garlic Bread Chaffles: so yummy and easy to make.
Tips and Suggestions
- The key to a great kale salad is to massage the kale! If you have ever tried a kale salad, but it was tough and bitter it is because the kale was not properly prepared. You must wash and destem the kale, then drizzle with a tiny bit of olive oil, or salad dressing and massage with your hands. The greens will turn a darker, richer color and they will soften. Do this for 3-4 minutes and you will have the perfect kale salad!
- You can use any extra dressing as a marinade or store it for any other salads you make!
- Raspberries will also work in this recipe if you prefer.
- If fresh berries aren’t in season dried blueberries or cranberries work well in this recipe.
Other Salad Recipes
- Broccoli Cauliflower Salad: This no cook side dish is perfect for holidays and potlucks!
- How to Make Egg Salad: This is a quick and easy recipe that is perfect for lunch!
- Chicken Salad: This easy Keto Chicken Salad is the perfect low-carb meal prep recipe!
- Southwest Chicken Salad: This delicious salad is full of greens, flavorful chicken, avocado, beans, and corn.
- Grilled Chicken Ceasar Salad: A classic dish that is healthy and filling.
For the Pecan Chicken
- 1 pound chicken, cut into thin strips
- 1 1/2 cups crushed pecans (unsalted, unroasted)
- 1/4 cup almond flour
- 1 teaspoon EACH garlic powder, paprika, oregano and garlic salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon honey mustard (sugar free if keto)
- 1 1/2 tablespoon butter, melted
For the Kale Salad
- 2 bunches of kale, stems removed
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- 1 cup fresh blackberries
- 1/2 cup Gouda, cut into small chunks
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup champagne vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey (sugar free maple syrup if keto)
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- Salt and pepper to taste
To make the Pecan Chicken
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Slice the chicken into small, thin chicken tender size sections.
- Set up a breading station in two bowls. In the first bowl add the eggs and honey mustard. In the second bowl add the nuts, almond flour, and spices, and mix well.
- To bread the chicken toss the chicken in the egg mixture, then transfer to the pecan mixture and carefully press the breading onto each side of the chicken.
- Add the chicken to a greased baking sheet. Do not overcrowd the pan, leave a little space between each piece.
- Melt the butter and brush over each chicken tender. Bake the chicken for 15 minutes, remove it from the oven, and carefully flip the chicken. Bake an additional 8-10 minutes or until reaches 165 degrees F.
To make the Salad
- While the chicken is cooking wash and destem the kale. Chop the kale and add it to a large bowl. Drizzle the kale with olive oil and add a smidge of salt. Massage the kale with your hands for a few minutes. This tenderizes the kale and makes it easier to digest.
- Combine the vinaigrette ingredients in a jar and shake until completely combined.
- To assemble the salad top the kale with the berries, cheese cubes, and cooked pecan chicken, and drizzle with the salad dressing.
Apple cider vinegar can be used in place of the champagne vinegar if you cannot find it.
Serving Size:2 chicken tenders, 2 cups dressed salad mix
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 520Total Fat: 38gCholesterol: 133mgSodium: 416mgCarbohydrates: 11.9gNet Carbohydrates: 5.6gFiber: 5gSugar: 5.4gProtein: 26g