vegan kale salad with sweet lemon maple dressing
Prep time
Total time
Recipe type: kale salad
Serves: 4-6
  • salad:
  • 1 -2 bunches kale, de-stemmed, and thinly sliced (how much kale you use depends on how large the bunch is) - I used a mixture of lacinato kale and curly kale, or curly kale and red kale -
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • ½ apple sliced and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • dressing:
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (about 1.5 juicy lemons)
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ⅛ cup maple syrup, agave or honey - [i]You can use any one of these. I used maple syrup
  • 1.5 ounces extra firm tofu - approximately ¼ cup
  1. First toast up the sliced almonds. I usually toast up a batch of almond ahead of time and just keep them in a sealed container till I need them.
  2. To toast them, just put some sliced raw almonds in a dry skillet set over medium heat, and swirl them around in the pan for a few minutes until they become golden brown in color. Reserve them to the side.
  3. Zest and squeeze up the lemons.
  4. Wash, de-stem and thinly slice the kale, or tear the kale into small pieces if you're using curly kale. If you’re not sure how to de-stem and slice kale then you can check out my post on how to de-stem and thinly slice kale, or you can watch the beginning part of my lacinato kale salad video for instructions as well. This video has really helped my readers easily understand how to de-stem kale quickly over the sink.
  5. Measure out 1.5 ounces of tofu. I would highly recommend getting a portion scale, or a scale in general. I use this all the time when a recipes calls for ounces or grams. If you don't have this tool, then 1.5 ounces is roughly about ¼ cup.
  6. Get out a blender and add in the ½ teaspoon lemon zest, ¼ cup lemon juice, ¼ cup olive oil, ⅛ cup maple syrup and the tofu and puree until smooth and creamy.
  7. Put your torn or sliced kale into a bowl.
  8. Add ½ of the dressing to the kale.
  9. This next step is a bit strange, but very necessary. Massage the dressing into the kale. Yes, you heard me right, "massage" the dressing into the kale. You literally want to massage the kale with 2 hands making sure to squeeze the kale as you go along, do this step for about 1 minute. The volume of the kale should reduce by about ⅓ and the kale will wilt and have a cooked texture and the bitter taste will go away.
  10. Keep adding the dressing to taste as you massage it.
  11. Taste the salad and if you want to add more dressing, then add a bit more. This part is to taste.
  12. Note: The dressing makes enough for a double batch of this salad, so if you have extra dressing, then you can store it in a sealed container for up to a week. Just make sure to stir or shake it before you use it next.
  13. Add in your cranberries and let the salad sit for at least an hour to soften. This salad can be made hours ahead of time (even in the morning). The longer the kale sits, the softer the kale will become.
  14. Note: If you are going to let this sit for more than an hour, then you will want to put it in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
  15. When you're ready to serve up the salad, mix in your toasted nuts and diced apple.
Recipe by Marin Mama Cooks at