Tuscan Kale Salad with Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette

~ This Tuscan Kale Salad with Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette is loaded with nutritious goodies and so, so much great Tuscan-inspired flavor and texture in every bite! Incredibly delicious … you won’t even notice how healthy it is. Seriously! A perfect light lunch, or dinner side! ~

Loaded with so much great flavor and texture in every bite! This Tuscan Kale Salad with Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette is so incredibly delicious ... you won't even notice how healthy it is! Seriously! Featuring tangy feta and parmesan, two kinds of tomatoes, cannellini beans, roasted red peppers, and fresh basil … all draped in a simple honey-balsamic vinaigrette dressing! #kale #salad #superfood #healthyrecipes #saladdressing #vinaigrette #kalesalad #greens #sponsored | www.TwoHealthyKitchens.com
Loaded with so much great flavor and texture in every bite! This Tuscan Kale Salad with Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette is so incredibly delicious ... you won't even notice how healthy it is! Seriously! Featuring tangy feta and parmesan, two kinds of tomatoes, cannellini beans, roasted red peppers, and fresh basil … all draped in a simple honey-balsamic vinaigrette dressing! #kale #salad #superfood #healthyrecipes #saladdressing #vinaigrette #kalesalad #greens #sponsored | www.TwoHealthyKitchens.com
So simple … and the perfect addition to salads! Our simple method for making Flatbread Croutons takes just minutes. And, these easy croutons are much healthier than lots of other store-bought croutons! Plus, you can make these croutons several days ahead, so you’ve got them on hand whenever you want to toss them on a salad! Featured in our yummy Tuscan Kale Salad, but super versatile, too! #croutons #salad #homemade #DIY #healthyrecipes #wholewheat #sponsored | www.TwoHealthyKitchens.com

This Recipe Is:     Ready in 30 Minutes or Less    Includes Make-Ahead Steps    Vegetarian (see note)  

Our scrumptious Tuscan Kale Salad has so many flavors and textures in every bite!

* (Our little disclaimer …) We partnered with Flatout for this sponsored post, but all opinions are entirely our own. Thanks for supporting brands that support Two Healthy Kitchens and our mission of healthy eating! *

Wanna take a salad recipe from good to great?

You’ve gotta think about textures. My rule of thumb? Always make sure you have a balanced combination of chewy, creamy and crunchy – so you never get a boring bite.

In fact, “crunchy” turned out to be the magical missing link for this Tuscan-inspired kale salad! I didn’t realize it at first, but it all seems so obvious now …

Back story: I’ve actually been making this Tuscan Kale Salad recipe for a while here at home, and just hadn’t gotten around to posting it for you. Good thing I hadn’t, though – because after I discovered the perfect crunchy component, it’s even better now than it ever was (which is saying a lot!).

I mean, from day one when I first created this salad, I was in love. Just look at everything it’s got going on …

Besides nutritious kale, this salad features two kinds of tomatoes and two kinds of cheese, plus roasted red peppers, fresh basil, red onions, cannellini beans, and a wonderfully simple honey-balsamic dressing!

  • our nutritional superhero, kale …
  • plus tangy feta and salty parmesan
  • rich and chewy sun-dried tomatoes and cheerfully fresh grape tomatoes
  • creamy cannellini beans
  • spicy red onion
  • fresh basil
  • silky roasted red peppers …
  • all draped in a simple balsamic dressing kissed with just a little sweet honey

What more could this salad possibly need, right?!?! That’s what I thought, too.

But then, one day … Salad Epiphany! (Yes .. I’m that much of a foodie nerd. I can actually be struck with moments of salad epiphany. I make no apologies.)

So anyway … that epiphany moment … it happened as I was innocently staring at all those pre-packaged salad blends every grocery store now stocks in the produce section. And then … I saw it. It! The game-changer that would take this salad to new heights. I spotted a salad mix that proudly proclaimed that it included flatbread croutons.

Right! So brilliant!

Our simple flatbread croutons add the perfect crunch to this easy kale salad!

You know I love adding nuts to salads for delicious crunch – candied pecans in our Salad with Goat Cheese, or pistachios in our Christmas Salad, for example.

But croutons can add wonderful crunch, too. It’s just such a bummer that they’re often totally empty-calories. Plus, normal croutons would be way too huge for a chopped salad like this one.

But flatbread croutons!?! Oh yeah – I knew just what to do!

Hello there, nutritious Flatouts! Instead of wrapping yourself around grab-and-go breakfast burritos, or our uber-popular Chicken Parmesan Wraps … today you’re going to be reincarnated as croutons! Croutons with fiber and protein and CRUNCH!

An irresistible crunch that takes a good salad straight to great!

So how does all this happen? Easy!

How to Make Flatbread Croutons

Grab yourself a nutrition-packed Light Italian Herb Flatout (remember they freeze beautifully, so it’s easy to stockpile some for all your salad epiphany moments).

Making the flatbread croutons is easy! Just cut flatbreads into squares before toasting!

Using a sharp knife (you know this one is my long-time favorite) … or (even easier!) a pizza wheel, cut your Flatout into approximately 1/2″ squares.

You can make the flatbread croutons as perfectly even or as rustic as you like.

Then, all you have to do is toast ’em up in a skillet.

Just like when I’m toasting nuts, I prefer the stovetop method (and my favorite nonstick skillet) here – no need to wait around while the oven preheats. And mmmmmm … they start to smell so good as they get all golden and toasty! You can really smell the Italian spices baked into the Flatout!

Set your croutons aside and let ’em cool while you throw the rest of the salad together. So simple!

The toasted flatbread croutons smell so good, full of yummy Italian-spiced flavors!

You can even make these a few days ahead and store them in a zipper baggy. They actually get crispier as they cool, and they keep well if tightly sealed in a plastic bag.

Let’s Talk Kale

On to the kale – a healthy blank canvas for all these wonderful flavors and textures!

But, we’ve got another little “Salad Epiphany” here, too. Again, it’s all about getting the right texture – kale that’s not too fibrous and chewy, but still has some spunk to stand up to all the other ingredients you’re tossing in here.

Although the word “Tuscan” is in the title of this recipe, it’s not because I typically use Tuscan kale to make it. As you’ve no doubt surmised by now, it’s actually because of all the Tuscan-inspired flavors jam-crammed into this yummy salad. But, if you like Tuscan kale and can find it at your store, you’re welcome to give that a go in this recipe for a totally full-on Tuscan experience!

For simplicity, though, I like to grab a bag of pre-washed, pre-chopped green curly kale, since that’s commonly available in most grocery stores. Also, choosing the bagged, pre-chopped kale cuts down some on the time of removing all the stems and so forth.

But, still, at least with the pre-bagged kale brands that I find at my local stores, I do a little additional prep to get the kale just how I like it for this salad.

To prepare the kale for our Tuscan Kale Salad, start by removing any tough kale stems.

First, as you can see above, I remove any remaining hard, fibrous stems, since there are usually more stems still in the pre-chopped kale bags than I prefer to have in my salads. (Psssst … hate food waste like I do? Check out the ingenious Kale Stem Pesto recipe we feature in our post on reducing food waste … and put your kale stems to deliciously good use!)

Next, I chop the kale leaves even smaller. See on the left, below, how the kale came out of the bag in relatively big (not-bite-sized) pieces? That’s not what we’re going for in this salad. You want kale that looks more like our confetti bits on the right, which have had another quick chop.

The key to great kale texture in this salad is chopping your kale into small “confetti” bits so it’s tender.

And that’s the second epiphany today … kale salad that has great texture without any massaging! Want to avoid the overly chewy kale situation (that often makes people think they don’t like kale salads)? Just that quick extra chop into little confetti bits will ensure that the texture’s perfect … and you won’t have to waste time worrying about whether you need to massage kale (because if anyone is getting a massage around here, it’s gonna be me!).

A Lighter Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette

Next, let’s talk about salad dressing for just a moment. Because, besides great textures, we’re also going to need a great dressing, of course. And we’ve got one! One that’s delicious and also lighter than lots of other vinaigrette recipes out there.

Lightening up your vinaigrettes is easy, if you’re willing to break bend the rules a little! We almost never adhere to the traditional proportions for vinaigrettes, which generally use a much larger proportion of oil to vinegar than we like to here at THK.

Cutting back the oil slashes fat (albeit, “good” fat), which also significantly cuts calories. And, you really just don’t need that much oil to make a delicious dressing!

The Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette for this salad is a fantastic example!

The savory and delicious Honey-Balsamic Dressing for this easy kale salad can be made in advance, so it’s ready to go when you are!

With bold balsamic flavor and just a little mellowness from the honey, you won’t miss the extra oil at all!

And, you can whisk it together several days in advance, stashing it in the fridge and quickly re-whisking it right before adding it to the salad.

Gotta love make-ahead steps …

More Make-Ahead Steps for Our Tuscan Kale Salad

As we mentioned above, you can make the flatbread croutons and the Honey-Balsamic Dressing ahead of time. But, there are plenty of other make-ahead options for busy cooks, too!

You can chop most of the ingredients for this healthy salad ahead of time, and just toss them together before adding the vinaigrette dressing and croutons, and then serving.

For starters, you can make this salad a few hours or even a day before serving. But, if you want to get even further ahead, you can pre-chop most of the various veggies and ingredients, storing them separately for a day or two in the fridge before finishing the recipe. Then, you can just toss the salad together and add the dressing a little closer to serving time. Ready when you are!

Oh – but I definitely recommend adding the flatbread croutons at the very, very last moment, and letting them lay on top (rather than stirring them into the salad), since they rapidly lose their wonderful crunch once they meet up with the vinaigrette dressing.

Our Tuscan Kale Salad with its easy Honey-Balsamic Dressing are quick and healthy enough for a light lunch, or they can be served as an impressive dinner side salad.

Mmmmmmm … there’s just so much to love about this Tuscan Kale Salad!

It’s so simple, yet so jam-crammed with vibrant flavors and great nutrition … and, of course, great textures, with that wonderful flatbread crunch! (Thank goodness for Salad Epiphanies!)

Tuscan Kale Salad with Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette

Tuscan Kale Salad with Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette

Yield: About 9 cups
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

This Tuscan Kale Salad is loaded with nutritious goodies and bursting with delicious, Tuscan-inspired flavor in every bite! Perfect as a light lunch, or dinner side dish!

  Ready in 30 Minutes or Less    Includes Make-Ahead Steps    Vegetarian (see note)  

Ingredients

Flatbread Croutons

  • 1 Light Italian Herb Flatout flatbread

Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Kale Salad

  • 8 cups finely chopped kale (we use green curly kale – see note)
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can cannellini beans (preferably organic or reduced-sodium), rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup chopped cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes (preferably oil-packed, drained)
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat, crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion (from about 1/4 of a medium onion)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped roasted red peppers

Instructions

For the Flatbread Croutons:

  1. Place flatbread on cutting board or work surface and, using a sharp knife or pizza wheel, cut it into 1/2-inch squares.
  2. Preheat a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Spread the flatbread squares out evenly in the preheated skillet. Toast the flatbread squares until they're a little golden-brown, crispy, and fragrant, about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  3. Remove toasted flatbread squares from skillet and allow to cool completely (they'll become crispier as they cool). Set aside (or to make these ahead, once cooled, store in a zipper bag until serving).

For the Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk vinegar, oil, honey, salt, and pepper until combined. Set aside (or to make this ahead, cover and refrigerate until dressing the salad, re-whisking again as needed).

For the Kale Salad:

  1. In a large bowl, combine kale, cannellini beans, cherry tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, feta, parmesan, red onion, and red peppers. Toss thoroughly but gently. 
  2. Add the dressing and toss again to distribute the dressing evenly.
  3. If serving the salad immediately, sprinkle flatbread croutons on top. However, the salad can be refrigerated for up to a day (the kale will continue to soften if you've already added the dressing) – wait to sprinkle the croutons on top until just before serving so they stay crispy.

Notes

Parmesan and Feta Cheeses: To make this kale salad recipe truly vegetarian, be sure to select a parmesan cheese made with non-traditional enzyme alternatives from microbes or fermentation, rather than the traditional rennet. In addition, be sure that your feta, which is often made with vegetable rennet, specifically lists that as an ingredient, rather than just listing "rennet," which may be animal-produced.

Kale: As noted in the post, I usually grab pre-chopped, bagged curly green kale. Even though a lot of the larger parts of the tough stems have been removed from the bagged, pre-chopped kale and the leaves are somewhat chopped, for this salad, I still remove any remaining sections of stem and further chop the kale into confetti bits. Refer to the photos in the post as examples. Also, to make this an even more "Tuscan" salad, you can substitute Tuscan kale if it's available. 

Make-Ahead Tips: This salad can be served immediately, or refrigerated for a few hours, up to a day ahead. In addition, most of the salad's components can be prepped even further in advance. As noted above, you can make the flatbread croutons ahead of time and, once cooled, store them in a zipper bag until serving. You can also make the vinaigrette ahead, then cover it and refrigerate until needed (you will probably need to re-whisk it again before adding it to the salad). Lastly, most all of the salad ingredients and veggies can be chopped a day or two in advance of assembling the salad. (In general, however, I recommend not chopping the basil until assembling your salad, so it's fresher.)

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 9 servings Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 233Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 570mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 6gSugar: 9gProtein: 11g

Nutrition information should be considered an estimate only, and may vary depending on your choice of ingredients or preparation. No guarantees are made regarding allergies or dietary needs. Always consult a physician or dietician for specific advice and questions.

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A gorgeous chopped kale salad full of Tuscan flavors and loads of terrific textures … plus a simple but scrumptious vinaigrette dressing!

8 thoughts on “Tuscan Kale Salad with Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette”

    • I adore balsamic vinaigrettes, too, and they’re the most common salad dressings I make, as well. So easy to whip up in moments, and they’re just not even in the same ballpark as what you buy in the stores – it’s almost a waste to put store-bought dressings on your salads once you’ve tried homemade, you know? The difference is huge! Definitely the perfect crowning touch for this kale salad – the salad already has such awesome flavor, it’d be a shame to finish it off with anything less than an outstanding dressing! 🙂 ~Shelley

      Reply
    • It’s so, so good, Kimberly! All the different flavors and textures – this is one kale salad that packs huge flavor impact, for sure. Plus, just so much terrific nutrition, too! But the great thing is that, people are so happy munching away and enjoying the fantastic flavors, they don’t really notice or think about how healthy it all is, too! Stealthy nutrition bomb … ka-pow! 😉 ~Shelley

      Reply
    • Oh, wonderful, Angie! That’s high praise coming from you, no doubt! I’m so excited for you to try this! And I know exactly what you mean about the flatbread croutons … when I saw them in those prepackaged store-bought salad mixes, it was one of those total forehead-slap epiphany moments! Plus, using a Flatout to make the croutons just pumps up the nutrition so much more – you know I love that! Can’t wait to hear what you think … ~Shelley

      Reply

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Published on
Updated on August 2, 2021
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