Hello, healthy! In just ten minutes you will have this kid-favorite, super simple, and delicious Tuscan kale salad ready to serve! It's a perfect side for busy weeknights, school lunches, and for when feeding a crowd.
Seriously, this is a salad that your kids will look forward to having, even in their lunches! It really is THE BEST!
Why This Recipe is so Great
Inspired by the Tuscan Kale Salad served at my absolute favorite restaurant, True Food Kitchen, this salad is just perfect to serve with any meal, any time of year!
- Quick and easy plant-based side dish.
- Can be made ahead of time.
- Great salad for meal prep.
- Can easily be turned in to a complete meal by topping it with a protein (like salmon, chicken, or hard-boiled egg) and a hearty piece of bread.
- Kale strips are just the right size for kids.
- Hemp hearts are used in place of breadcrumbs.
What Is Cavolo Nero?
Cavolo nero is a variety of kale that has been used in Italian cuisine for hundred of years, especially in regions like Tuscany. This variety of kale has been grown in Tuscany for centuries and is an ingredient in many traditional foods.
Cavolo nero is also known as Tuscan kale, Lacinato kale (grocery stores often label it as this), Italian kale, dinosaur kale (because some think it looks like the skin of dinosaurs), palm tree kale, or black Tuscan palm.
Most commonly called Tuscan kale in the United States, this type of kale has a deeper color and is more tender than curly kale. The hardy texture of Tuscan kale makes it perfect to be used in salads.
- Cavolo Nero (Tuscan Kale) This ingredient is high in fiber, vitamins A, K, and C. Tuscan kale also contains vitamin B6, calcium, potassium, copper, and manganese. So good for you!
- Lemon Juice Use freshly squeezed lemon juice. It adds flavor, softens the kale, and provides vitamin C.
- Hemp Hearts Hemp hearts provides omega-3 fatty acids and protein. They also contain fiber, potassium, iron, and more.
- Garlic Use fresh garlic. Mince garlic using a garlic press. Or, by hand using a sharp paring knife.
- Olive Oil I use extra virgin olive oil. Olive oil contains polyphenols, with the most found in extra virgin olive oil. Additionally, olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats and contains antioxidants that contribute to its anti-inflammatory properties. It also has an excellent flavor that compliments this kale salad so well.
- Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese Added for a richer flavor. You can either shred your own or, to save time, use pre-shredded parmesan. Costco's pre-shredded Parmigiano Reggiano cheese works very well in this recipe!
Here’s a quick overview of the steps to make this kale salad. For the full list of ingredients and instructions, scroll down to the recipe.
- Remove the thick middle rib from the center of washed kale.
- Cut kale in to small pieces. This step is key to making this salad easier for kids to eat!
- Make the dressing by winking the fresh lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper in a separate small bowl.
- Pour dressing over kale. Toss to coat the kale.
- Sprinkle the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and hemp hearts on top of the salad. Toss again. Enjoy!
- Kitchen scissors are, hands down, my most used kitchen tool! They work perfectly for cutting kale into pieces!
- The quickest way I have found to cut kale is to layer a few pieces of kale at a time, roll the kale up (as you would roll up a yoga mat), and carefully use kitchen scissors to cut the kale into pieces.
- One bunch of Tuscan kale should yield 4-5 cups of cut kale.
- Fresh squeezed lemon and freshly minced garlic are essential in making this dressing - so good!
- Although this salad can be served right away, I do suggest letting it sit (covered) in the refrigerator for at least 10-15 minutes before serving.
Another thing that makes this the best kale salad is that it can be served with pretty much anything! Serve it along side of a sandwich, a burger, grilled cheese... you name it!
Tuscan salad can also easily be turned into a main meal by topping it with protein. In fact, salmon, chicken, and hard boiled eggs taste terrific with this salad.
Now, if your kids are pretty adventurous with food and you are really looking for nutrient density, you can try topping the salad with roasted red beets (chilled). Delicious!
Yes! This salad can easily be made in advance and stores well in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
And, because this kale salad stores well, it makes a nice addition to school lunches. This is one of my son's favorite salads and he loves it when there is enough leftover to have some packed in his school lunch!
Hemp hearts, shelled hemp seeds, and hulled hemp seeds are one and the same. When the outer shell of the hemp seed has been removed, you are left with the softer, chewier inner seeds.
Many Tuscan kale salad recipes call for breadcrumbs. In my experience, the breadcrumbs get soggy and make the salad less desirable to eat the next day. So, I use hemp hearts instead!
More Salad and Dressing Recipes for Kids
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Cavolo Nero Salad (Tuscan Kale Salad)
- 1 bunch Tuscan kale about 4-5 cups once cut
- 1 lemon juiced
- 2 cloves garlic minced (use fresh garlic)
- 3 tablespoon olive oil extra virgin
- 2 tablespoon Parmigiano Reggiano cheese grated
- 1 tablespoon hemp hearts
- 1 pinch salt optional, or more to taste
- 1 pinch pepper or more, to taste
- Remove the thick middle rib from the center of washed leaves of Tuscan kale
- Cut kale into small pieces and place in a medium sized bowl
- In a small bowl, whisk lemon juice, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper together to make the dressing.
- Pour dressing over the kale and toss well
- Sprinkle the cheese and hemp hearts on the top of the salad and toss one last time
- Let sit for 10-15 minutes before serving (optional)