Eating well has never tasted so good! This easy kale salad recipe is loaded with chickpeas, pomegranate, pine nuts, and an irresistible tahini sauce. It's healthy, hearty, and delicious - and just so happens to be vegan and gluten free, too!
Why you will love this Kale Salad Recipe?
Simple but incredibly satisfying, a hearty salad is always welcome on the table. Although there are countless varieties of what you might consider a "salad," the basic concept is usually the same: Lettuce or other green leaves are the base of the dish, then pile on proteins, fresh fruits and/or veggies, a sauce or dressing - and don't forget something with a nice crunch!
In this easy kale salad recipe we air fry (or oven roast!) tender chickpeas with a bounty of vibrant spices, like zaat'ar and smoked paprika. In only about 15 minutes they become crisp, fragrant, and perfect for adding onto a bed of massaged kale.
You can even make ahead and keep the chickpeas in the airtight container(up to 1 week) until ready to use! Then top with beautiful fresh pomegranate arils (for perfect sweetness and flavor) and a sprinkling of crunchy toasted pine nuts.
You might notice that there is no dressing for this healthy, vegan and gluten free kale salad recipe... That's because instead of a dressing we use a generous drizzle of my favorite homemade tahini sauce! It's tangy, and savory, and pairs perfectly with the other salad ingredients.
This kale chickpeas salad with pomegranates and tahini sauce is perfect as a tasty side salad to share. Or enjoy as a light yet satisfying main dinner salad!
*For more healthy and delicious dishes, be sure to try these easy salad recipes:
- Mixed Green Salad
- Arugula Apple Pear Pomegranate Fall Salad
- Beet Salad with Feta and Quinoa
- Pear Salad with Rocket and Walnuts
Chickpeas: Also known as garbanzo beans. These legumes are mild in flavor but are a terrific plant-based source of lean protein.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil: The oil is for both roasting and massaging the raw kale. Therefore be sure to choose a tasty and high quality product.
Spices: The best kale salad recipe uses a bold combination of zaa'tar, cumin, smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
Lemon Juice: The acid helps to soften the kales leaves and adds bright flavor to the chickpeas when roasting.
Kale: Dense, nutritious, and delicious!
Tahini Sauce: My recipe for homemade Tahini Sauce is quick and easy, and great to make ahead.
Pomegranate Arils: These are the soft casing around the edible pomegranate seeds. The arils are the tastiest parts of the pomegranate!
Pine Nuts: Lightly toasting and cooling before adding to the salad will help to cut any bitter taste. Plus, they add a great little crunch.
How to make Kale Salad?
1. Preheat the air fryer at 200°c (default is 3 minutes as per the manufacturer's instruction for my air fryer).
2. Place the chickpeas along with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive, zaa'tar seasoning, ground cumin, smoked paprika, garlic powder, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ freshly cracked pepper in a bowl. Toss to combine well.
3. Transfer the tossed chickpeas in the air fryer basket. Cook for 13-15 minutes, shaking in between a couple of times.
4. Alternatively, you can roast the chickpeas (on the rimmed baking sheet pan) in the pre-heated oven at 200°C for 15-20 minutes or until crisp.
5. Place chopped kale leaves, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle salt and the remaining 1 teaspoon lemon juice in a large salad bowl.
6. Massage the kale leaves with your clean hands (or finger) for 2 minutes or until the leaves start to wilt.
7. Place the massaged kale on the serving platter and top with crispy zaa'tar chickpeas.
8. Drizzle generous amount of tahini sauce, top with pomegranate arils, toasted pine nuts and serve.
- Massage your kale. By shredding and rubbing the leaves you are making them super tender and flavorful.
- If you tahini sauce is too thick add 1-2 tablespoons of cold water and whisk well until runny yet creamy consistency.
- Or you can prepare tahini dressing using tahini, lemon juice, and cold water instead of sauce.
- Take the time to toast the pine nuts. This will give them a great crunch and remove any bitter flavor. But, like chickpeas, cool completely first before adding to the salad.
- Whether enjoying with sauce or dressing, I suggest that you serve on the side and let guests drizzle on.
FAQs + Storage
We prefer to chop them finely into thin ribbons. First, prepare the kale leaves by washing, drying, and removing the ribs. Then stack the leaves into bundles and slice into thin ribbons.
Yes! You can prep much of this salad recipe in advance. Roast the chickpeas and cool. Wash, dry, and slice the kale leaves. Make the tahini dressing. Then store all components in separate containers, and keep in the refrigerator for up to a few days.
It will keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Again, I recommend that you store the components separately.
There are so many wonderful ways to mix up this simple recipe! Here are a few ideas for extra add-ins and substitutions.
- Cheese - Crumbled feta or goat cheese adds a bit of tangy creaminess.
- Grains - Cooked quinoa or couscous, chilled or room temperature.
- Proteins - Baked, roasted, or grilled chicken, fish or shrimps.
- Nuts - Swap pine nuts with toasted almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts or walnuts.
- Dressing - Feel free to swap this recipe's tahini sauce with your favorite dressing.
Vegan kale salads can be served in smaller portions as a side dish for 5 diners. It pairs well with other vegan dishes like Falafel, veg curries, or soups. Or serve as a plant-based dish with non-vegan mains like Baked Salmon, homemade Meatballs, or other favorite dinner recipes.
It is also terrific to enjoy as the main star of the meal with simple sides! I love to eat the salad with breads and flatbreads, Fingerling Roasted Potatoes, Zaa'tar Roasted Red Potatoes, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, and other side dishes.
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Kale Salad Recipe with Chickpeas and Tahini
- 1 (14 oz) Canned Chickpeas (drained, rinsed and lightly dried)
- 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (divided)
- 2 teaspoons Zaa'tar Seasoning
- ½ teaspoon Ground Cumin
- ¾ teaspoon Smoked Paprika
- ¼ teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 2 teaspoons Lemon Juice (divided)
- Salt (to taste)
- Freshly Cracked Pepper (to taste)
- 5 cups Kale (rinsed, ribs removed and chopped)
- ⅓ cup Tahini Sauce
- ⅓ cup Pomegranate Arils
- 2 tablespoons Pine Nuts
Air fry (or roast) the chickpeas
- Preheat the air fryer at 200°c (default is 3 minutes as per the manufacturer's instruction for my air fryer).
- Place the chickpeas along with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive, zaa'tar seasoning, ground cumin, smoked paprika, garlic powder, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ freshly cracked pepper in a bowl. Toss to combine well.
- Transfer the tossed chickpeas in the air fryer basket. Cook for 13-15 minutes, shaking in between a couple of times.
- Alternatively, you can roast the chickpeas (on the rimmed baking sheet pan) in the pre-heated oven at 200°C for 15-20 minutes or until crisp.
Massage the Kale Leaves
- Place chopped kale leaves, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle salt and the remaining 1 teaspoon lemon juice in a large salad bowl.
- Massage the kale leaves with your clean hands (or finger) for 2 minutes or until the leaves start to wilt.
Assemble the Salad
- Place the massaged kale on the serving platter and top with crispy zaa'tar chickpeas.
- Drizzle generous amount of tahini sauce, top with pomegranate arils, toasted pine nuts and serve. Enjoy!