Kale Salad with Orange, Radicchio and Fennel; Orange Miso Vinaigrette
Kale Salad with Orange, Radicchio and Fennel; Orange Miso Vinaigrette

Hello all. I hope the muffin makers among you are planning on a date with my banana, oat, and chia seed muffins very soon!

Whenever I post a kale salad recipe on this blog, I worry. You have seen so many kinds of kale salads from me, and I fear that posting more will push the limits of even healthy eaters to muster up enthusiasm for raw greens. Thus far, however, you haven’t stopped me—in fact, my kale salad with outstanding miso dressing was one of my most popular recipes of the summer. So, until you tell me that you’re tired of seeing massaged kale on the front of this blog, I’ll keep giving it to you, because it may very well be the foundation of my diet!

As such, I’m always looking for new and tasty ways to dress kale up and make it taste even better than it does by its lonesome. This week, I tried a new combination: citrus, fennel, and radicchio. If I’d been thinking hard enough about my motives for this recipe, I might have postulated that my subconscious was trying to stave off the cold and cough that’s spreading like wildfire across the Georgetown campus; fennel and orange are both outstanding sources of Vitamin C. I might also have been thinking about the fact that Vitamin C aids in iron absorption, and that kale is a high source of iron (for those of you who are worried about the oxalates in dark leafy greens, which can block iron and calcium absorption, keep in mind that kale is much lower in oxalates than other dark leafy greens, like spinach). Finally, I might have been thinking that radicchio has not only Vitamin C, but Vitamin E, and that it’s a rich source of antioxidants and phytonutrients in the “red” family of veggies, including lycopene, ellagic acid, quercetin and hesperidin.

Or maybe I wasn’t thinking about any of these things. Perhaps I was simply thinking that citrus and kale are a stunning, colorful, and tasty combination. Perhaps I was thinking that the sweet, licorice hints of fennel pair beautifully with the tart sweetness of orange and the bitterness of radicchio. This salad contains quite a few of the six tastes of food: it’s bitter, sweet, salty, and sour all at once. Not bad for a dish that contains four humble vegetables and a simple dressing. As always, simple food is often the richest.

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Kale Salad with Orange, Radicchio, Fennel, and Orange Vinaigrette (raw, vegan, gluten free)

Serves 4

For the salad:

  • 1 small head curly kale, stemmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 cups radicchio, chopped or torn into pieces
  • 1 small bulb fennel, thinly sliced
  • 1 orange, supremed

For the dressing:

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons white wine, champagne, or apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup

1) Whisk all vinaigrette ingredients together till smooth. You may not need all of the dressing for the salad. Any remainder can be stored for up to 1 week in an airtight container in the fridge.

2) “Massage” the dressing into your kale with hands, using only as much as you need to coat the salad well, and soften the kale. Add the radicchio, fennel, and orange.

3. Mix the salad well, adding as much additional dressing as you need for the salad to be well-seasoned. Serve.

Just look at those vibrant and varied colors:

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This is the kind of dish that makes me marvel at the beauty of raw vegetables.

Pop quiz, CR readers: is this a side salad or a meal-sized salad?

Answer: Side salad!! While delicious, varied, rich, and bursting with micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), this salad isn’t high enough in all of the essential macronutrients (protein, complex carbs, and fats) to fill most people up as a meal (I say “most people” because all of our bodies and nutrition needs do vary). So, if we don’t want to serve this dish along with an entrée of sorts (I served mine along with a collard wrap stuffed with hummus and avocado), how would we go about transforming this delicious meal component into a meal in and of itself?

  • Add two tablespoons of hemp seeds and a tablespoon of nutritional yeast to the salad for increased protein and fat
  • Add a half cup of lentils and some avocado chunks for protein, complex carbs, and fat
  • Add half of a steamed and chopped yam for complex carbs, and 1/4 cup chopped walnuts for fat and protein
  • Serve the salad with a giant dollop of my hemp hummus and some avocado
  • Throw 1 cup quinoa into the salad and mix it all together. Top with some hemp seeds for a huge increase in protein, complex carbs, and fatty acids.

I hope this is how you all tend to think when you make salads! Ask yourself, do I have a side salad or a main dish on my hands? If it’s a salad, ask yourself, how can I use this as the backbone for a more nutrient rich meal? What can I add to increase nutrient density and ensure my own satiety? Salads are extraordinary and health giving in almost any form (unless we’re talking iceberg wedge salads with blue cheese dressing, or something) but it’s crucial that we high raw and plant-based readers be able to know which salads are best served with other foods, which stand alone as meals, and how to transition from one to another. This way, we can all have our salad, and feel satisfied with it, too.

Happy almost-Friday…


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Categories: Salads
Ingredients: Kale
Dietary Preferences: Gluten Free, Raw

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  1. Loved this! I added some toasted walnuts and avocado to make it more ‘meal sized’. I also used a whisk instead of my vita for the dressing and it turned out just as creamy and delicious 🙂 Thank you!

  2. This looks like an amazing flavor combination. So fresh and fancy!

    I know what you mean about the trials and tribulations of packing salads for school lunch. Sometimes I think I should just try to eat them alone in a corner to avoid the awkwardness of trying to carry on a conversation over such a crunchy lunch 🙂

  3. I never tire of kale salad ideas, and this one looks beautiful! I love the color combo! Thanks for the tips on making it a meal, too, I always bring a salad to school for lunch and kale salads seem to hold up the best even with refrigeration. Do you think you could do the same with collards or another ‘hearty’ green?

  4. What catches my attention here is the presentation of this dish. It is very attractive since it contains lot of colors. This just show how nutritious this dish is.

  5. It is salads like these that also make me wanna do a handstand or something, because the plants of the earth are so gorgeous, vibrant and miraculous. And taste soo good!! Funny how my crusty white cheesey melty panini tasted good to me….but never made me feel like that inner-backflip-syndrome. A testament to what our body and soul truly needs in my opinion. Eating close to the earth!

  6. I love your blog, but I gotta admit – I’ve never tried your kale salad recipes and probably never will! Raw kale just isn’t my thing, unless it’s a kale chip. Your photos of this salad are really pretty though!

  7. I love all the flavors you used…fennel, kale, orange, yum. Sounds perfect to me.

    And I hope you have a very happy Halloween Weekend. I’m sure you’re going to be going out and getting crazy and eating tons of candy bars and drinking, right? 🙂 kidding! I just hope you don’t study TOO hard and are able to take some Gena Time and recharge your batteries 🙂

  8. Gena, I’m amazed at how you can pack so much useful information into one eloquent post. Who knew I could learn so much reading about a salad? Also, I one day hope to be able to pair flavors and create dressings like you! I didn’t realize that their were fewer oxalates in kale, I may have to start using it in my green smoothies instead of spinach!

  9. I so appreciate that you give fennel and radicchio a shoutout here–they’re two of my favorite unsung veg heroes.

    Great salad/meal tutorial too!

  10. I’m always looking for more ways to use kale in a yummy way 🙂 Can definitely find that through your blog– thanks for that! Love all the colors and flavors of this salad, can’t wait to make it!

    Meal- sized nutrient dense salads are where it’s at!

  11. I appreciate when you identify the specific nutritonal benefits of each component and highlight their synergy as well. It’s reflexive for me to build my meals, following a similar type of formula, though I’m pretty loose and intuitive about it on most occasions. Thanks for this great, educational post, and the fennel/citrus combo looks like a winner…I am loving fennel these days.

  12. I love your posts about salads, Gena. These are some great tips for us college students, too! I almost always start out my meal with a heaping pile of greens and build from there.

  13. I will never tire of eating, reading about, or look at pictures of raw kale salads! Love them! And the raw fennel sounds like a great addition. Thanks!!

    I second Amanda’s question about the dehydrator recommendation. Any advice you have from your experience would be great!

  14. Please don’t ever worry about posting another kale salad recipe. Kale is one of my favorite foods, and I love that you combine it with other ingredients in new and interesting ways. 🙂

    Somewhat related – do you have any dehydrator recommendations? I’m looking to buy one so I can make kale chips (among other things), but I don’t have a clue as far as which models are good investments. I’ve been baking kale in the oven, but I’d love to use a dehydrator instead.

  15. I used to wonder how anyone could get full on a healthy vegan salad until your post on nutrient dense salads. Now I always take an extra few minutes in my morning throw-a-lunch-together rush to toss some avocado, pre-steamed and cubed sweet potato, quinoa, or nuts in my salad. If I feel like I don’t have time to chop up an avocado, I just bring it to work whole and cut it up later! its definitely worth it to avoid the tummy grumbles later! Thank you!

  16. I love your kale salad recipes. I have grown so fond of kale thanks to many of your recipes. I rarely eat lettuce anymore because it just pales in comparison. Also thank you for the information at the end. I tend to eat salads for a meal but I don’t think I ever considered whether they were truly meal-sized. Very helpful information. Have a great day!