Cheery Cherry Kale Salad


If you’ve been following my blog, then you know that I’m camera shy. Not of having my photo taken (although I’m not crazy about that either), but of taking food photos for my blog.

I’ve been working on my photography skills, however; and I think my Cheery Cherry Kale Salad photo is decent. It’s not great, but it’s good enough to post. I’m happy about this because I really wanted to share this sweet, creamy and delicious salad with you.

If you can’t imagine kale salad being sweet and creamy, then you haven’t tasted it properly prepared. The first time I made a kale salad it was crunchy and bitter as hell! It was so bad that I threw it out.

Then at a cooking class I took from Heidi, the owner of Life Alive, I learned that the kale stalk isn’t edible. You’re supposed to strip the leaves from the stem and just eat the leaves. Check out this De-Stemming Kale video for a simple demonstration.

Since Life Alive makes fabulous kale dishes, I thought I’d learned the secret to making kale salad. I was wrong. My second kale salad was also a flop. Stripping kale is fine if you’re going to cook kale, but doesn’t do the trick if you’re going to eat it raw.

Then I tasted an amazing kale salad that a friend brought to a pot luck and learned that she softened the kale by massaging an avocado into it. I attempted a similar salad and it was delicious. Third time’s a charm!

I’ve been experimenting with avocado-massaged kale salad recipes, and my Cheery Cherry Kale Salad is my favorite. The kale is double massaged turning it from tough to silky and the cherries and beets give it a wonderful sweetness and a rich ruby color. It’s a beautiful, guest-worthy salad.

Cheery Cherry Kale Salad

This makes a small side salad for 4 or a large side salad for 2.


¼ cup pecans

Half a head of kale, stripped and shredded

¼ tsp. salt

The juice of 1 lemon

1 ripe avocado

1 cup fresh cherries, pitted and chopped

¼ cup dried cherries

1 cup shredded beets

1/8 cup red onion, finely chopped


Preheat oven to 350. Put pecans on a non-stick baking sheet and toast them just until they become aromatic, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Place kale in bowl and wet your hands. Sprinkle salt on your hands and then begin rolling the kale back and forth between your palms. Continue doing this for 2 to 4 minutes until the kale becomes soft.

Smash the avocado in a small bowl and pour lemon juice over the top. Mix to combine. Mix the avocado mixture into the kale with your hands massaging it with your fingers. Do this for a count of 100.

Mix the cherries, beets and onions into kale and put the salad on plates.

Chop the pecans and sprinkle them over the salads.



About celestedimilla

Hey there. I’m Celeste, California girl, writer, psychotherapist and burgeoning plant-based foodie.
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47 Responses to Cheery Cherry Kale Salad

  1. I like your photo and I’m glad you decided to post it!

    • I really appreciate that Jen! I’ve been struggling with food photography, but I’m starting to feel more confident. And comments like yours mean so much!!! Celeste 🙂

  2. Maria says:

    It sounds delicious and the picture looks amazing!!!

  3. charanyaram says:

    Awesome photo 🙂 Very tempting 🙂

    • Oh, I really appreciate that – your comment means the world to me! By the way, I was just checking out your blog and admiring your stylish photos of your Vegan Cauliflower and Spinach Rice. Very nice! Celeste 🙂

      • charanyaram says:

        Awww 🙂 You are doing a good work 🙂 Right, the timing was funny. I commented and refreshed the page and realized you had commented 🙂

  4. Ally says:

    Yay! You did it. 🙂 Good on you! Your salad is beautifully presented. It’s a great photo Celeste. 🙂

  5. I have never tasted Kale. I hear it is very healthy for you. The salad sounds yummy. I do like how you have just a bit of the red tablecoth as a backdrop for the plate of kale with all the pretty reds on it like the cherries…..

  6. Poppy says:

    Woohoo, go Celeste! Love the colourful photo and the recipe sounds delish, now that I’m on a fruit in salads obsession! Poppy 🙂
    P.s pecans are in the ingredients list twice?

  7. Very interesting! I’ve heard about massaging kale with oil to make it tender and that’s just something I don’t want to do – – but avocado?! I’m ON that! Thanks for sharing that tip. What a lip smacking combination of flavors, girl. And your photo makes me want to get my fork right in there.

    • Hi Annie! You’ve got to try an avocado-massaged kale salad – it takes kale to another level! And thanks for your kind words about my photo – it really means a lot. I’m gaining confidence, so I’ll be more than ready for the next Virtual Vegan Pot Luck. Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend! Celeste 🙂

  8. What fun recipe 🙂
    Saving it. I am a big fan of salads.
    Please visit me at , when you get time ;).

  9. Mike Lince says:

    I did not know about massaging kale. It is a good thing to know because on the few occasions I have tasted kale it was, as you said, bitter and not at all appetizing. My response was the same as yours – I tossed it out.
    Your photo made me salivate, especially after I clicked on it and viewed the life-sized version. It must be the quality of the photography! 🙂 – Mike

    • Hey there Mike! I’m telling you, when kale is properly prepared it tastes out of this world. It’s just the kind of food that needs extra prepping to make it delicious. I hope you try this recipe or another kale recipe Mike. Kale is the ultimate ‘super’ food. Eating it will (almost) make up for all that Irish whisky you plan to drink in Europe – haha! Thanks for the comment – I appreciate it!! Celeste 🙂

  10. Starr says:

    Great photo!… I almost always eat the kale stems. That being said, generally, I steam my kale. Too keep the stems from being tough, I cut them small and steam them for about 5 minutes before adding the leaves. Besides thinking that tossing the stems is a huge waste, they are actually my favorite part!

    • It’s nice to know that you can actually eat the stems if you’re going to steam the kale. It’s hard for me to believe they taste good, but that’s probably because I’ve never properly prepared them. I’m sure the extra 5 minutes of cooking softens them up nicely. Hmmm… I guess I’ll have to try this the next time I make a cooked kale dish. I hate wasting food too, so thank you!!! Celeste 🙂

  11. Anna says:
    Hi Celeste,
    this link shows how to treat the famous kale…
    Thank you so much for sharing your recipes.

  12. Jeanne Allen says:

    That is a great picture Celeste! Makes me want to go drive down to Lowell to Life Alive an order a bowl of that Beet Salad.

    • You are so lucky to live so close to Life Alive Jeanne!! If I lived as close to Lowell as you do, I’d be eating there all the time. Heck, I might even get a part time job there!! I really wish we had a Life Alive around here. Maybe when Paul and I are in town in September we can all go to Life Alive. We can even drag Bill with us. It will be fun. Celeste 🙂

  13. eliane says:

    this looks nice and refreshing, i will definitely have to try it!

  14. Great picture, Celeste! This recipe looks awesome! I started squeezing half a lemon on my salads at lunch instead of using dressing and it really makes it taste great with no added calories or oils! I’ll have to try out this recipe – thanks!

    • Thanks Alison – that means a lot!! I’ve never tried just using lemon juice as a salad dressing, but I’ll have to give that a try. You certainly can’t beat the health bennies of that! And I hope you try this salad – it’s really tasty!! Celeste 🙂

  15. You picture is great! I don’t like posting my own pics either because I don’t have a singe good spot in my apartment to take pictures. Funny that you learned about the kale stems; I learned the hard way when I made a kale lasagna and the recipe said to de-stem them, but I thought that just meant cut the bottom part off, not all along the leaf. Hey, no harm, no foul, right?

    • Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment! Trust me, it took a lot of shots to get this photo. I am fortunate, however; that I do have a great sunny room to take pictures in. That does make it tough when you don’t have a good place to take photos – that’s tough! And kale tastes so much better de-stemmed. I hope you’re having a wonderful week. Celeste 🙂

  16. Brandi says:

    Oh this looks incredible! Two of my favorite things…pecans and dried cherries! I’m literally salivating. Beautiful presentation! 🙂

    • Hey Brandi! The cherries and pecans really work for this dish because they really sweeten up the kale. And thanks so much for your kind words about my presentation. I’ve been working hard on that. Celeste 🙂

  17. Sophie33 says:

    I also loved your appetizing picture! 🙂 I made this stunning salad of yours & my husband & I loved it so much! So many great flavours in here & by using dried & fresh cherries, it made all of the difference! x

  18. What a great combination of ingredients, I would never think of it. Can’t wait to give it a try! 🙂

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