Mandarin Orange Kale Salad is a refreshing dish to make during the spring and summer. With fresh kale, juicy mandarin oranges, blueberries, pickled onions, pine nuts, and toasted almonds slices all marinated in a light lemon vinaigrette, this salad checks the boxes for nutrition and leaves you feeling satisfied.
This is such a healthy lunch to make during the summer months. The mandarin oranges and juicy blueberries give this salad its natural sweetness, along with the light and tangy lemon vinaigrette. Toasted almonds and pine nuts kick up the crunch, and pickled onions add an acidic boost.
I’ve probably had this salad 5+ different times just this month… it’s that good!
I love that it’s packed with nutrients while also tasting light and fresh. But most importantly, it keeps me satisfied throughout the day. A superfood salad that’s both scrumptious and satisfying equals a win!
Roasting the Nuts
The toasted almonds add an extra crunch element to the salad. Toasting them on the stovetop in a skillet is simple by just adding a tablespoon of coconut oil and a dash of salt. I buy the almonds sliced since its easier to eat with a fork, but you can use whole almonds as well. You can also complete the same process with the pine nuts.
How to Make Kale Salad with Mandarin Oranges
It’s a good idea to make the pickled onions first since they will need to sit in the refrigerator for at least 25 minutes to marinate. While they’re marinating, make the dressing and then assemble the salad.
I have found this to be the most efficient workflow for making this recipe. But of course, if you decide to use storebought pickled onions you can make the dressing and skip straight to assembling the salad.
Step 1: Pickled Onions
If you rather purchase your onions already pickled, then by all means go ahead. But if you’ve got some extra time and want to make these pickled onions yourself, here are the instructions.
- Chop a red onion and set it aside in a bowl. Add white vinegar, salt, and honey in a small saucepan and cook the mixture on medium heat until it begins to simmer. (Note: use maple syrup if making vegan.)
- Remove the mixture from the stove and pour it onto the chopped onions. Toss the onions and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 25 minutes.
Step 2: Making the Dressing:
The salad dressing is a light lemon vinaigrette. Simply combine olive oil, lemon juice, and a pinch of pepper in a sealable container and shake vigorously. It’s very simple but when used to marinate the salad it adds a nice subtle hint of freshness.
Step 3: Assembling the salad
Once you’ve got the salad dressing made and the onions are done marinating in the refrigerator, you can start assembling the salad.
- Add the kale to a large bowl. Pick a bowl big enough to hold and toss all the ingredients. Add the sliced almonds, pine nuts, pickled onions, blueberries, shredded carrots, and mandarin oranges. Toss the salad and lemon dressing with a salad server (or these bamboo salad “hands”) until everything is evenly incorporated.
- Optional: To really make the lemon dressing stand out, cover the salad bowl with plastic wrap. Let that sit and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes. Toss the salad again and serve.
Can I use other greens for this salad?
Sure. I typically shy away from iceberg lettuce though since darker greens tend to have more nutrients. Spinach, arugula, or a fresh green spring mix are good substitutes.
- Make the pickled onions first so they have a chance to marinate while you’re prepping and assembling the salad. You can also buy pre-made pickled onions instead of making them yourself.
- For vegan pickled onion, substitute the honey for maple syrup.
- Toast the sliced almonds for an extra crunch. Just add them to a skillet with a tablespoon of coconut oil and a dash of salt and toast on medium heat for 5 minutes.
- Keep any leftover salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days after assembling.
More Healthy Recipes:
Mandarin Orange Kale Salad
For the Pickled Onions
- 1 Red Onion (chopped)
- 3/4 Cup White Vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
- 1 Tbsp Honey (or maple syrup)
- 1 Tsp Salt
For the Dressing
- 1/2 Cup Lemon juice
- 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
For the Salad
- 6 Cups Kale
- 1 (11 Ounce) Can Mandarin Orange Slices (drained)
- 1/2 Cup Blueberries
- 1/3 Cup Shredded Carrots
- 1/3 Cup Pine Nuts
- 1/2 Cup Sliced almonds
For the Pickled Onions
- Add the chopped red onion to a bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan, add vinegar, salt, and honey. Heat on medium until mixture begins to simmer.
- Remove mixture from the heat and pour onto the chopped onions. Toss thoroughly and cover the bowl in plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator and let marinate for at least 25 minutes.
For the Dressing
- In a small container with a lid, mix together olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Shake vigorously and set aside.
For the Salad
- In a large bowl, add in the kale, sliced almonds, pine nuts, pickled onions, blueberries, shredded carrots, and mandarin orange slices. Shake the dressing, pour half into the bowl, and toss. Repeat with the other half of the dressing.
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