Kale Salad with Apples and Cashews


Kale Apple Salad with Cashews

The Apple Orchard

Honey Crisp Apples

“And if there’s a good apple–a crisp apple–bring that too.”

East of Eden, John Steinbeck


Trees slouch with ripe apples; robust shadows lumber across the orchard. Loyal companions throughout the year. Stoic friends in the rain and cold, staunchly facing the summer sun, giggling and whispering in the wind, patient listeners as their leaves glisten in the fog. At the banquet of autumn apples are an unwavering delight at Everett Family Farm. Flush with fruit, the trees don’t seem to mind my photos as I capture a slice of life in the apple orchard.

Apples ready to harvest

My first trip to Everett Family Farm’s apple orchard was in spring. Leaves and blossoms were peaking out of the branches that had been drenched in winter’s rain but now awakened to the soft spring light. I returned at the time of harvest when the tree branches were all but hidden by the outburst of ripe apples. Masses of color from scarlet to gold the Honey Crisp, Gala, Gravensteins, Newtown Pippins, Winesap and Roxbury Russets are a few of the varieties grown in the Soquel, California orchard. Find these organically grown beauties at the Everett Family Farm farm stand or local farmers’ markets. The apple cider made at the farm is exceptional. Fresh and crisp, savor the intense apple flavor as it lingers, reminiscent of the long shadows on an autumn afternoon.

Everett Family Farm Apple Orchard


I’m late to the kale party. You know, the “massaging” your kale salad. The recommendation to massage the kale for 5 minutes is hilarious! There is no way I have enough patience to massage the greens in my salad for 5 minutes. I suggest a minute or so; just enough time to coat all the kale with the dressing. We have lives to live, we are busy. Making a healthy salad should not be an hour long project. Everyone is hungry, lets get dinner on the table already! It’s time to make a kale salad that gets eaten because it tastes great as well as being nutritious.

Apple blossoms

Most importantly, pick kale this is very, very fresh and doesn’t have thick tough, dry leaves. Unless you really like massaging kale leaves huge thick leaves of kale are best eaten when cooked first. I follow Sara of Sprouted Kitchen’s recommendation to lighten my kale salads. All my kale salads are half kale and half romaine lettuce: one bunch of kale and one large head of romaine. An added benefit of using half romaine lettuce is now my salad doesn’t look like a dark foreboding evergreen forest on a plate. I tried to like tahini massaged into my evergreen forest salad. Between the kale and the tahini there was just too much bitterness. Raw kale needs a lighter touch, and crunch and salt and a hint of sweetness. Instead of tahini I chose cashew butter but almond butter or even peanut butter would be exciting choices for dressing the kale and romaine. I made my own cashew butter but there are excellent brands at most grocery stores. The recipe for the cashew butter is scaled for processing. It makes more cashew butter than is needed for the salad. Any remaining cashew butter should be kept in the refrigerator and is excellent on toast or crackers. Use cashew butter just like peanut butter. A favorite afternoon snack are slices of crisp apple with a dollop of cashew butter. A flurry of chopped nuts now populates my evergreen forest salad. Sweet and crisp apples, minced shallots and dried cranberries also found a home in my kale forest. My evergreen forest salad has lost it’s dreary personality. Everyone is happy to place big scoops on kale salad on their dinner plates. An added bonus is this salad holds well in the refrigerator. Which makes it an easy fix for lunch the next day.

Preparing Kale Apple Salad with Cashews

Roasted Cashew Butter
3C raw cashews
1/2t fine grain sea salt
2/3C grape seed or avocado oil
Cashew Butter Dressing
1/2C cashew butter
1/2t fine grain sea salt
2T fresh lemon juice
1/2C warm water
Kale and Apple Salad
2 sweet tart crisp apples, such as Honey Crisp or Gala
1 lemon, juiced
1 bunch kale
1 head romaine lettuce
1T finely minced shallot or red onion
1/2C dried cranberries
1/2C chopped dry roasted salted cashews

Ripe apple

  1. To make the cashew butter heat the oven to 350°. Toast the cashews for 10-15 minutes until they become fragrant and turn from creamy white to golden brown. Stir them after 7 minutes and watch them carefully so they do not burn. Cool to room temperature and then place them along with the salt in a food processor, blender or Vitamix and process until they are pulverized. Remove the feed tube of the food processor or cap from the blender or Vitamix and slowly pour in the oil. Process until all the oil is incorporated with the ground nuts and the cashew butter is of uniform consistency.
  2. To make the dressing in the bowl of the food processor, blender or Vitamix add 1/2 cup cashew butter, salt, lemon juice and the warm water. Process until throughly combined and of uniform consistency.
  3. Thinly slice the apple. Place the sliced apple in a small bowl with the juice of a lemon and enough water to cover completely. Drain the apple slices just before mixing the salad ingredients together.
  4. Clean and dry the kale and remove the thick center ribs. Stack the leaves together and slice into ribbons no wider than 1/2”. Place the kale in a large bowl with the cashew dressing. With your hands massage the dressing into the kale. My patience only allows for a minute or so of kale pampering but do make sure all the kale is separated and coated with dressing. The kale will become shiny and reduced in volume while losing some of its bitterness.
  5. Clean and dry the romaine and remove the largest of the center ribs. Stack the leaves together and slice into ribbons no wider than 1/2”. The kale and romaine should be the same width. Add the romaine to the kale and mix together with your hands. Do not massage but instead break up the kale and mix in the romaine. Add the apples, shallots, dried cranberries and cashews to the salad. Toss to combine and serve.

Orchard view

Apples at Everett Family Farm

Everett Family Farm farmstand

Spring view of orchard

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45 Responses to Kale Salad with Apples and Cashews

  1. I’m late on the kale train because I haven’t been able to find it here. And I don’t think it will become trendy anytime soon… But the dressing here is oh so good Deb! Loving it!

    • Deb says:

      Thank you Paula, roasted cashews are divine! Kale is very trendy and it certainly is nutritious but it’s gotta taste good or no one will like it at my house!

  2. Deena kakaya says:

    What a beautiful and evocative post. I wish I lived somewhere sunnier xx

  3. shannon says:

    this sounds delicious! and that’s a great hint about using half romaine and half kale…although i would actually miss the foreboding forest look. 🙂 I agree about massaging kale: i try to find it as tender and small as possible so i don’t have to do tons of work.

  4. Carol Sacks says:

    All hail kale! I’m not sure what I love more — the ingenious recipe or those to-die-for photos. Wonderful post, Deb!

  5. Linda says:

    I can’t wait to try this dressing!

    • Deb says:

      Thank you for commenting Linda! The cashew butter dressing is scrumptious and full of healthy protein and fats that go well with the robust kale.

  6. Beautiful photos from the orchard, Deb! I love this salad, it would make such a lovely Thanksgiving menu addition!

    • Deb says:

      Thank you for the gracious comment Laura! Yes the Kale Apple Salad with Cashews would be a lovely Thanksgiving side dish. It holds well and would be a fabulous dish to make ahead.

  7. Cathy says:

    Hi Deb. Kale has not caught on in Germany yet, so I rarely see it. But this dressing sounds wonderful, so I’ll try this out with just lettuce instead. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Deb: You have the best still life photography. They are enchanting!
    The salad looks quite Brazilian for me. 🙂 Cashew nuts are native from my Northeast region in Brazil, kale (and collard greens) is the most popular leaf vegetable at our table, and apples are present in our Southern cuisine. I love this salad! I’ll have to make it soon.

  9. I had my first kale salad ever at a restaurant a couple weeks ago and loved it! The dressing on this sounds like an amazing idea!

  10. Valentina says:

    I love learning about all of the farms near where you live. Beautiful salad, and I totally agree, who wants to massage kale for 15 min!? 🙂

  11. I have got to say: gorgeous pictures!
    I LOVE cashews, and I love apples. This salad looks like it was made for me!

  12. Kale + apples always go so well together! Cashews and dried cranberries make it only better, this is a true Winter salad! Love it! 🙂

  13. Patty says:

    Hi Deb! I would love a visit to this apple orchard-looks like fun 😉
    I don’t know who came up with this idea of massaging kale -so weird !!
    Anyway, I really like the idea of roasting the cashews for the cashew butter in your dressing and will have to try-pinning for later-thanks 😉

  14. Juliana says:

    What a delicious kale salad Deb, I love that you added apple and yes, the cashew dressing sounds divine.
    Beautiful pictures…love it!
    Hope you are enjoying your week 😀

  15. Hannah says:

    Deb, your photos are vibrant and stunning! And I am such a fan of kale salads. Your cashew butter dressing has especially caught my attention. I’ve made almond butter before but not cashew, so I’ll get on that right away. Using it to make this creamy dressing sounds just scrumptious! Happy Friday to you!

    • Deb says:

      Thank you for the delicious comment Hannah! Cashew butter is so sumptuous! Taking a few minutes to roast the nuts will result in a lovely nutty flavor.

  16. Gorgeous photos and a delightful salad. Glad I found your blog!

  17. The apple trees look so great with all the bright, red fruit! What a great way to use it in this salad. I love a crunchy salad with lots of texture, and these flavors sound fantastic!

  18. It’s spring time in my part of the world, and the apples trees are all covered in blossom, so not a decent apple to be found, but this one is definitely bookmarked for when autumn comes around next year.

    I love your suggestion for a kale salad of mixing it with romaine, so the kale is not too overwhelming, and I can’t wait to try that cashew butter dressing.

  19. Tiffany says:

    I’m ALWAYS looking for new ways to enjoy kale! This recipe looks delectable (especially the roasted cashew butter!)

  20. Fantastic ode to the apple, Deb. And the dressing sounds marvelous!

  21. I need kale in my life. And more crisp apples. And cashews. When can I move in Deb?

  22. I just came upon your beautiful blog. Your photos are fantastic and you have captured the essence of Everett farm, I buy their beautiful produce at the Santa Cruz Farmer’s Market.

    • Deb says:

      Thank you for stopping by Gerlinde, I appreciate your gracious comment! Everett Family Farm is indeed a beautiful place. I am pleased to meet another local blogger!

  23. Pingback: Garlicky Kale with Beans | East of Eden Cooking

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