Kale Christmas wreath salad is a healthy recipe that is perfect for parties during the holiday season. Our low calorie salad is massaged with a tasty lemon garlic dressing that is sure to please your guests.
If you love eating kale, try our copycat Chick-fil-a lemon kale caesar salad or our copycat Chick-fil-a kale crunch salad.
Our kale Christmas wreath salad takes only a a few ingredients and is very healthy. If you are looking for an easy tasty salad to have on repeat, this is it.
- Vegetables: we used fresh kale, red bell pepper, garlic and grape tomatoes.
- Acid: We used lots of freshly squeezed lemon juice.
- Fat: We used extra virgin olive oil.
- Spices: We used only salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
- Cheese: We used freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
How to Make
Gather the ingredients.
- Rinse each leaf under cold running water, then place in a colander to drain.
- Pat each leaf dry with an absorbent kitchen towel or paper towel. Slide your fingers down the stem to remove the leaves, then tear it into bite-sized pieces.
3. To make the lemon garlic dressing, whisk the lemon juice, garlic, salt, and black pepper together in a small mixing bowl.
4. Add the olive oil and continue whisking until it thickens.
5. Put the kale in a very large mixing bowl, and pour the dressing on top. Toss with your hands until the dressing is well incorporated. Massage it for 5 minutes by rubbing the dressing into each piece, then taste and adjust the seasonings: adding more lemon juice or salt.
If it's bitter, continue massaging. Let the it sit for a minimum of 10 minutes. While it's is resting, grate the cheese and find the serving platter and a small bowl.
6. Place the bowl upside down in the center of the large platter. Carefully arrange the kale around the bowl to make a wreath shape.
7. Place grape tomatoes all over the wreath, except the bottom. This is where the bow will go.
8. Make the bow by cutting the bottom off the red bell pepper. Cut each point apart. These points will make the bow. Cut the seeds and membrane out of the bell pepper, then slice two long strips of pepper with a curve at one end for the bow tie ends.
Arrange the four pepper pieces like the picture above to form the Christmas bow and sprinkle with finely grated Asiago cheese. Impress your dinner guests by shaping the salad into a festive Christmas wreath; it's really simple to do!
Curly is more hearty, ridged, and frilly, while Tuscan is more tender and great for raw dishes. Of course, they look different as well, and curly is easier to find in grocery stores.
Add a drizzle of olive oil, a heavy sprinkle of salt, and freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional), then massage it with both hands.
Massaging it tenderizes it, making it silky and sweet instead of bitter and tough. Rub the it with olive oil and salt for 5 minutes. You will see it darken in color and shrink in size. Taste. If it's still bitter, continue rubbing the leaves.
No problem! This recipe is easy to convert to a traditional tossed salad that you can enjoy year round. Instead of using the red pepper for a festive bow, chop up half of the pepper. Feel free to customize it by making it more hearty by adding salami or croutons, or making it spicier by sprinkling on some red pepper flakes.
Our kale Christmas wreath salad can be served as an appetizer or side dish at your Christmas party. It's a versatile side dish that goes well with traditional holiday meats like roast turkey, spiral ham, and roast beef.
- Make Ahead: Prep the kale the day before. The salad dressing is best made the same day, but you can prep the lemon juice and garlic 24 hours ahead. Assemble the wreath just before you want to serve it. This salad tastes great cold or at room temperature.
- Leftovers: Store salad in an airtight container in the fridge. Tastes best if eaten within 24 hours, but is good for 3 days.
- Freeze: You can freeze kale that has no dressing on it in a zip top freezer bag for up to 3 months.
- Want to add nuts? Try toasted pine nuts, walnuts, or toasted silvered almonds.
- Want cheese substitutions? Try Parmesan, Pecorino Romano, or Asiago.
- Want to add more protein? Try cannellini beans, salami, prosciutto, or make smoked ham rosettes.
- Want more veggies? Try sun-dried tomatoes or avocado.
- Want to change up the dressing? Add lemon zest or grated cheese.
- Have leftovers? This will keep in the fridge for three days in an airtight container with the dressing on it.
- Need to make in advance? This tastes better the next day as the kale will become less bitter and tough. For maximum freshness, add the tomatoes and cheese just before serving.
Other Salads You'll Love
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Kale Christmas Wreath Salad
For the Salad
- 16 cups curly kale, from 2 large bunches
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, rinsed
- 1 red bell pepper, about
- ½ cup freshly grated Asiago cheese
For the Dressing
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons minced garlic
- ½ cup lemon juice, from 2 very large juicy lemons
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
Prepping the Kale
- Rinse the kale and pat it dry one piece at a time. Remove the ribs by pinching the end of the stem and running your fingers down it. Tear each piece into bite-sized pieces and place in a large mixing bowl.
Making the Lemon Garlic Dressing
- Whisk together the lemon juice, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Add the olive oil and whisk again to make a thick dressing.
Massaging the Kale
- Pour the lemon garlic dressing over the kale. Start tossing the salad with both hands to coat each piece, then rub the kale leaves with both hands for 5 minutes. Massaging the kale will take away the bitterness and toughness.
- Taste a piece of kale. Adjust seasonings, if necessary, by adding more salt, black pepper, garlic, or lemon juice.
- Let the massaged kale sit for 10 minutes or overnight. This will help remove more of the bitterness.
Assembling the Christmas Salad Wreath
- Put a bowl in the center of a large circular tray. Arrange the massaged kale around the edge, making a wreath shape.
- Add grape tomatoes all over the wreath salad, but leave the bottom empty for the red pepper bow.
- To make the red pepper bow, cut the bottom off of a large red bell pepper. Cut apart the four points so you can make a bow. (Refer to the picture #8 in the blog post.) Remove the seeds from the bell pepper and cut two long strips for the ends of the bow. Make sure to have a curved end on each pepper strip.
- Just before serving, sprinkle the finely grated Asaigo cheese over the wreath, being careful not to cover the red pepper bow or the grape tomatoes. Serve the salad cold or at room temperature.
Optional: Assembling the Salad in a Bowl
- Place the massaged kale in a very large bowl. Chop half of a red bell pepper and the grape tomatoes cut in half, then add them to the salad along with ½ cup of coarsely grated Asiago cheese. Toss with both hands until the ingredients are well distributed.
- Garnish with Asiago shards and grape tomato halves and serve.
- This will keep in the fridge for three days in an airtight container with the dressing on it.
- It actually tastes better if made in advance, as the kale will become less bitter and tough. For maximum freshness, add the tomatoes and cheese just before serving.
Serving sizes and nutritional information are only an estimate and may vary from your results.
This post was originally published on December 7, 2018 and was republished on December 23, 2022 with refreshed content.
The crunchy kale tastes good with the lemon garlic dressing. I like the small, juicy tomatoes, and the red pepper bow is very cute!
Thank you, Beth! I love the flavor and appearance of this salad.
I have never heard of massaging kale, but it I think that it is interesting. The cherry tomatoes 🍅 and cheese 🧀 taste so good on this.
Massaged kale is delicious! It really brings out the flavor of the greens--the tomatoes and cheese just make things even better!