This Kale and Cara Cara Orange Salad will brighten up any winter day. With hints of fennel, toasted flaked almonds, optional cheese and a citrus dressing, it's bursting with colour, flavour, antioxidants and Vitamin C.
This Kale and Cara Cara Orange Salad makes a welcome change from your daily green salad! Fresh sweet oranges add lots of colour, flavour and interest to a healthy bowl of tender baby kale. And a touch of anise-flavoured fennel along with salty grated cheese makes this a spectacular salad for lunch or as a side salad for dinner.
What are Cara Cara Oranges?
If you haven't had Cara Cara oranges before, I encourage you to seek them out. They are incredibly sweet and succulent (as they are low in acid) and they have no pits. How cool is that? Especially for kids! Their peel looks very similar to a navel orange but the fruit is slightly more pink, closer in colour to a grapefruit. The pink shade indicates the presence of lycopene, the same antioxidant that gives tomatoes their red color,
They are still considered specialty produce as they weren't available in the produce market until the late 1980's.
I jump at the chance to buy them when they appear here in January and February. Ours come from California, but they're also grown in South Africa and Australia. You can read more about Cara Cara oranges in this article.
This kale and orange salad is so pretty! Dark green kale, pinky-orange Cara Cara oranges, thinly sliced fennel, a smattering of salty grated cheese, topped with toasted almonds and drizzled with an exquisite citrus vinaigrette made with freshly-squeezed orange juice. Mwah!
Let's make this kale and orange salad!
kale: 1 bunch of Lacinato kale OR 5 oz. package of baby kale
oranges: this recipe features Cara Cara oranges, but you can use navel oranges or other sweet oranges if you'd like.
nuts or seeds: toasted flaked almonds or pumpkin seeds add a little crunch to this salad. Sometimes I've used salted sunflower seeds, too.
fennel: this anise-flavoured veggie adds little hints of licorice
cheese: optional, but good! I've made this salad with grated Manchego cheese (sheep's cheese), with Parmesan, and with crumbled feta. It's good both with or without cheese!
Citrus Vinaigrette: olive oil, white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar, freshly squeezed orange juice, garlic, shallot, Dijon mustard, honey, salt and pepper.
Kale, like that shown in the photo above, can be a little tough but it's very easy to tenderize.
- First, strip the leaves from the tough inner stem and chop the leaves into very small pieces. Put them in a bowl, drizzle with a teaspoon or two of olive oil and gently massage the oil into the leaves. Massaging helps to break down the tough connecting fibers and makes the kale easier to digest.
- Set the kale aside, and whisk the vinaigrette ingredients together. This Citrus dressing is superb when you use freshly squeezed Cara Cara orange juice, but you can also substitute lemon juice or Meyer lemon juice.
- Toast the flaked almonds over medium-low heat in a skillet just until they become fragrant and begin to brown. Remove from the heat as they will continue to brown in the residual heat from the pan.
- Slice the fennel using a very sharp knife or a mandolin. See this helpful guide for how to cut a fennel bulb.
- Now, simply arrange the massaged kale or baby kale (no need to massage it) in a shallow bowl with bite-sized orange slices, thinly sliced fennel, grated or crumbled cheese, and toasted almonds. Toss with this flavourful Citrus Vinaigrette and enjoy!
Substitute other oranges, like navel oranges, mandarins, satsumas or blood oranges, or add a mixture of two varieties
Change the cheese! I've made this with grated Manchego cheese, but it's also delicious with feta cheese or goat cheese.
Change the nuts! Toasted almonds look pretty on this salad, but you could also use pecans, sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds.
Stored this kale and orange salad covered in the refrigerator. It will last for 3 days or so.
I really hope you decide to make this Kale and Cara Cara Orange salad. As Denis said today, "This is one to save and serve to company!"
For more winter salad inspiration, check out 15 Best Winter Salad Recipes.
Kale and Cara Cara Orange Salad
- 1 bunch Lacinato Kale, stems removed and sliced very thinly OR 5 oz. baby kale leaves
- 2 Cara Cara oranges, peeled and sliced
- ½ cup fennel bulb very thinly sliced
- ½ cup Manchego cheese grated, or Parmesan or crumbled feta cheese
- ½ cup flaked almonds, toasted, or pumpkin seeds
- ½ cup olive oil, extra-virgin
- 3 tbsp Cara Cara orange juice, freshly squeezed
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 1 small shallot, finely minced
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp honey
- ¼ tsp each salt and pepper
- Prepare the vinaigrette ingredients first to allow the flavours to blend. Whisk all ingredients together and let stand while preparing the salad.
- Toast the flaked almonds or pumpkin seeds by heating them gently in a skillet. No oil required. Heat until they begin to brown then remove the skillet from the heat. They will continue to roast in the hot pan.
- Chop the kale very finely and massage with a little bit of the vinaigrette to tenderize it.
- Slice the oranges and the fennel, grate the cheese and arrange in a serving bowl or in individual dishes. Drizzle with more vinaigrette and top with nuts or seeds. Enjoy!
This recipe was originally published in 2015. I've updated it with new photos and information and tweaked the recipe.