This kale citrus salad is packed full of nutritious ingredients and has hints of Asian influence in the flavourings: it's topped with crispy miso sesame crusted chickpeas and drizzled with a blood orange miso dressing. A delicious winter salad that invigorates the soul with all the seasonal veggies you could dream of.
Originally, this kale citrus salad started off with the intention of being a stir fry but it didn’t quite work out that way. I handed it over to my husband and this is what he refined it into and boy is it good! This citrus salad is an ode to some wonderful winter produce and brings all the brightness and joy we all need at this time of year. I just love blood oranges! I’m definitely one for using kale and brussels sprouts throughout the whole season and those of you who reserve brussels sprouts only for a specific holiday meal really need to try this salad!
This kale citrus salad has got all you could need in a salad; it’s packed full of protein from the chicken and also those incredibly crispy sesame crusted chickpeas on top! It’s all tossed in a zingy umami flavour bomb which is the delight of the blood orange miso dressing; I just love the pink/peach colours it brings to this meal. If you're in the mood for more kale, be sure to check out my Sweet Potato Kale Salad which you're sure to love too. And finally don't forget my Crispy Chicken Tacos for another vibrant light meal.
I love to celebrate the blood orange at this time of year as you may have noticed from my other recipes:
I know you'll just love this super flavourful kale citrus salad with blood orange dressing - it’s exactly what you need right now I promise. Let me know what you think by leaving a comment and rating below. I love hearing from you!
Why make this salad?
Reasons you need to create this delicious kale citrus salad:
Protein packed - this citrus salad contains two thirds of your recommended protein for the day making it a really satisfying meal; you can’t have a salad and be unsatisfied in my book.
Umami - umami is one of the five tastes, essentially it’s the savoury flavour. You’ll have a lovely savouriness come from the miso used to flavour the dressing and the crispy chickpeas. It really elevates this salad to another level.
Crispy sesame chickpeas - Crispy chickpeas are one thing on their own and are a great addition to any salad and if you don’t want to make the miso sesame crusted chickpeas you can just use standard crispy chickpeas. BUT I will say the sesame ones are totally worth the little extra effort!
Zingy - blood orange and lime make up a large part of the dressing for this kale citrus salad, giving a lovely zingy balance to all the flavours in the salad.
Fresh - the citrus salad is dotted with chunks of fresh blood orange, giving a lovely freshness and sweetness in every mouthful.
Seasonal - all the major components of this wonderful citrus salad are in season right now which makes it even more special.
The ingredients you need for this kale citrus salad are simple but some may need a little more consideration; I offer links to below to help you and you can also check out the substitutions further on in the post:
Greens - the main base for the salad is built from cavolo nero (tuscan or lacinato kale) and shredded brussels sprouts. This kale citrus salad is a wonderful celebration of winter vegetables. These get massaged in some dressing before making the salad which aids digestion and creates a more tender salad.
Chicken - I love using leftover shredded chicken for this citrus salad, or you could easily poach some chicken breasts and shred them for wonderfully moist chicken.
Crunch - some additional crunch will come from julienned carrots (I like to use rainbow carrots which are stunning but also in season) and thinly sliced red onion.
Blood orange - you’ll be using this in two ways in this citrus salad; the juice for the dressing but also the segments or wedges of skinned fruit throughout the salad.
Crispy sesame chickpeas - these are the perfect crispy addition to this salad. You’ll need chickpeas, all purpose flour, egg, toasted sesame oil, white miso, kosher salt and sesame seeds. They aren’t complicated or hard to create but they do take a little bit of effort and can be quite therapeutic if you just need some time to chill. They're totally worth it!
Dressing - this dressing is special, it’s a beautiful peachy pink dressing made up of blood orange and lime juice, white miso, toasted sesame oil, maple syrup, gochugaru (or red pepper flakes) and garlic powder. It really is so flavoursome.
How to make it
Follow these straight forward steps to create this umami packed kale citrus salad:
Making the crispy sesame chickpeas
- Whisk together the egg, sesame oil, white miso and salt until smooth.
- Prepare separate bowls of the all purpose flour, the egg mixture and sesame seeds. When you’ve drained and dried the chickpeas, you will dredge the chickpeas in the bowl of flour, you will need to remove the excess flour off them with a sieve before going to the next step.
- In small batches, drop the flour dredged chickpeas into the miso egg mixture and coat them fully. Use a fork to lift them out and drain them - if you don’t drain them too much egg mixture will go into the sesame seeds and it will make a mess very quickly.
- Once drained, drop them individually into the sesame seeds and toss them to coat them in the seeds.
Hot tip - I recommend lifting the chickpeas out of the egg mix with a fork and separately dropping the into the sesame seeds, it helps them not clump together, but also ensures you don’t soak the sesame seeds in egg mix which gets messy.
If you've got time and fancy a bit of kitchen mindfulness, I highly recommend rolling the chickpeas in your hands after coating in the sesame seeds to make them nice and round. Totally optional though!
- Place your chickpeas on a baking sheet and spray with cooking spray.
- Bake the chickpeas in an oven preheated to 220C/425F for 15 minutes, tossing them half way through.
Hot tip - To help the chickpeas become crispy, spray them with a light coating of cooking spray before placing in the oven.
Making the dressing
- Place the miso, blood orange and lime juice, sesame oil, maple syrup, gochugaru and garlic powder into a jug.
- Whisk or blend together with a stick blender until smooth.
Making the salad
- Massage kale and shredded sprouts with 2-3 tablespoons of the dressing until it softens.
- Put rest of the kale citrus salad ingredients together in the bowl with 4-6 tablespoons of dressing, toss together and serve with crispy chickpeas on top.
Tips for making ahead of time
If you want to make this kale citrus salad ahead of time here are some tips:
Dressing - the dressing can be made up to a week in advance and stored in the fridge in an air tight container. If you only whisk it together it will separate quickly, if you use a blender/stick blender to mix it together it will emulsify into a nice pink dressing, it’ll take longer to separate but will only need to be blended again before use if you wish.
Chickpeas - these are the most time consuming part of making this salad (albeit still not that time consuming). I would recommend making them on the day you wish to make the kale citrus salad as they tend to go softer in storage, they will still be tasty but just not as crispy as when first baked.
Main salad - all the component citrus salad parts can be prepared ahead of time and stored until you are ready to put it all together.
Substitutions and variations
Chicken - you can easily omit the chicken if you don’t want it in the kale citrus salad.
Gochugaru - these lovely Korean chilli flakes are very flavoursome and I recommend getting them, but they can be difficult to find depending where you live. You can usually find them at an Asian supermarket or online. If needs be just substitute for red pepper flakes (chilli flakes) instead or omit.
Chickpeas - the miso sesame crusted chickpeas are so worth the effort, but if you are short on time you can quickly toss some drained and dried chickpeas in some sesame oil and salt and pepper and just roast in a hot oven until crispy instead. You could also use a packet of roasted chickpeas from the store.
Kale - I love using cavolo nero or lacinato kale in this salad, but feel free to switch out with curly kale, it will be just as good.
The massaging of kale has two benefits; it starts to break down the tough fibres in the vegetable which makes it more tender and soft and therefore easier to digest. The other thing it does is allow the kale to cling and hold onto the flavour from the salad and dressing more effectively. Kale is naturally quite waterproof if you’ve ever noticed whilst washing it. Massaging it will help the dressing stick to the salad better. You can massage it in two ways:
- season it with salt and massage away until it's wilted and softened.
- apply some of the dressing you want to use and massage together until it's soft.
This kale citrus salad will last in a container for up to 3 days in the fridge. I do however recommend keeping the chickpeas separate otherwise they will go soggy in storage.
More light meals
I hope you love this delicious chicken kale citrus salad with blood orange dressing! If you make it, be sure to leave a comment, rate the recipe and tag me on Instagram! I love seeing your creations!
Chicken Kale Citrus Salad with Blood Orange Dressing
For the crispy miso sesame chickpeas
For the dressing
For the salad
- 4 cups cavolo nero (lacinato kale), 150g, chopped into 1 inch pieces
- 2 cups brussels sprouts, 180g, shredded finely
- 1 cup julienne carrots, 120g
- ½ medium red onion, thinly sliced into half moons
- 2 cups shredded chicken , ½ pound, 225g
- 2 blood oranges, see notes on preparation
For the crispy miso sesame chickpeas
- Drain the chickpeas and dry them thoroughly on a paper towel without breaking them up.1 can chickpeas
- Whisk together the egg, miso, sesame oil and salt to create a uniform mixture.1 medium egg, 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil, 1 tablespoon white miso paste, ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Place the flour, sesame seeds and egg mixture into three separate bowls.¼ cup all purpose flour, 1 cup sesame seeds
- Dredge the chickpeas in the flour, coating them evenly and then removing the excess with a sieve if necessary.
- Dip the floured chickpeas into the miso egg mixture and remove them with a fork and allow the excess egg mixture to drip off. Drop them in small batches into the sesame seeds and coat evenly. Do this in batches, ensuring you don’t leave excess egg on the chickpeas otherwise you will have a big clumping bowl of sesame seeds.
- Place them evenly on a baking sheet and spray with oil.cooking oil spray
- Bake for 12-15 minutes at 220C/425F until golden brown. Toss them gently half way through.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool before adding to your citrus salad.
For the dressing
- Add all of the miso blood orange dressing ingredients into a small bowl and whisk or blend together with a stick blender until smooth. Set aside.2 tablespoons white miso paste, 1 blood orange, juiced, ½ lime, juiced, 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil, 2 teaspoons maple syrup, ½ teaspoon gochugaru, ½ teaspoon garlic powder
Assembling the salad
- Whilst the chickpeas are roasting, prepare your salad ingredients.
- Add the chopped kale and shredded brussels sprouts to a large bowl, pour 2-3 tablespoons of the dressing over the top and massage it into the greens until they start to wilt.4 cups cavolo nero (lacinato kale), 2 cups brussels sprouts
- Add the julienned carrots, red onion, shredded chicken and chunks of blood orange. Pour over the rest of the dressing and toss everything together.1 cup julienne carrots, ½ medium red onion, 2 cups shredded chicken, 2 blood oranges
- Serve the salad with the crispy chickpeas on top and enjoy immediately.