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Kale, Apple and Pancetta Salad Recipe

This kale, apple, and pancetta salad is a delightful mix of sweet, salty, and tangy flavors. Fresh kale and radicchio provide a crisp, earthy backdrop for crunchy apples and pecans, while crispy pancetta adds a rich, savory note. The salad is topped off with a homemade dressing that's sweetened with pure maple syrup and has a slight tang from champagne vinegar.

Kale, Apple and Pancetta Salad Recipe
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Photos of Kale, Apple and Pancetta Salad Recipe

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Although this recipe calls for a few ingredients that may not be staples in your kitchen, they can easily be found in the produce and deli sections of most supermarkets. Keep an eye out for pancetta, an Italian-style bacon that's been cured but not smoked. It has a saltier, more robust flavor than regular bacon. For the salad greens, you'll need radicchio, a type of chicory that has a slightly bitter flavor and a beautiful, deep red color. It's often sold in small heads in the produce section. The recipe also requires champagne vinegar, a light, delicately flavored vinegar that's excellent in salad dressings.

Ingredients for Kale, Apple and Pancetta Salad

Extra virgin olive oil: A healthier oil option that adds a rich, fruity flavor to the salad dressing.

Pancetta: An Italian bacon that is salted and cured, adding a savory and rich flavor to the salad.

Champagne vinegar: A light, delicately flavored vinegar that adds a tangy note to the salad dressing.

Pure maple syrup: Adds a natural sweetness to the dressing.

Radicchio: A type of chicory with a bitter flavor and deep red color, it adds a nice contrast to the sweet and savory ingredients.

Kale: A nutrient-rich green that forms the base of the salad.

Tart-yet-sweet apples: Adds a refreshing crunch and natural sweetness to the salad.

Pecans: These nuts add a delicious crunch and rich flavor, complementing the other ingredients in the salad.

One reader, Kenn Vanmeter says:

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This kale, apple, and pancetta salad recipe is a game-changer! The combination of crispy pancetta, sweet apples, and hearty kale is simply divine. The dressing is the perfect balance of sweet and tangy. It's a refreshing and satisfying salad that's become a staple in my kitchen. Highly recommended!

Kenn Vanmeter

Techniques Required for Making Kale, Apple and Pancetta Salad

How to prepare the dressing: Combine the olive oil and pancetta in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the pancetta is golden and crispy. Strain the pan drippings into a small bowl and leave the crispy pancetta off to the side to cool. Add the champagne vinegar, maple syrup, salt, and pepper to the pan drippings and whisk well.

How to toss the salad: Combine the radicchio, kale, apples, and pecans in a large bowl. Toss while adding the dressing, little by little, until the salad is well dressed.

How to garnish: Garnish the salad with the crispy pancetta.

How To Make Kale, Apple and Pancetta Salad

Fresh and crisp apple, earthy kale, and hearty pancetta are tossed in a sweet-tangy honey and champagne vinegar dressing to make this pancetta salad!

Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking: 10 minutes
Total: 25 minutes



  • cupextra virgin olive oil
  • 4ozpancetta,diced
  • ¼cupchampagne vinegar
  • ¼cuppure maple syrup
  • ¼tspsalt
  • ¼tspground black pepper
  • 1small radicchio head,shredded
  • 1bunchkale,stems discarded, leaves shredded
  • 2Granny Smith,or Honeycrisp, or other tart-yet-sweet apples, sliced into thin matchsticks
  • ¾cuppecans,toasted if desired


  1. Combine the olive oil and pancetta in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the pancetta is golden and crispy.

  2. Strain the pan drippings into a small bowl and leave the crispy pancetta off to the side to cool.

  3. Add the Champagne vinegar, maple syrup, salt and pepper to the pan drippings and whisk well.

  4. Combine the radicchio, kale, apples and pecans in a large bowl. Toss while adding the dressing, little by little, until the salad is well dressed. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

  5. Garnish with crispy pancetta, serve, and enjoy!


  • Calories: 540.26kcal
  • Fat: 43.32g
  • Saturated Fat: 7.46g
  • Trans Fat: 0.04g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 25.68g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 7.94g
  • Carbohydrates: 33.52g
  • Fiber: 6.27g
  • Sugar: 22.57g
  • Protein: 8.16g
  • Cholesterol: 18.71mg
  • Sodium: 360.98mg
  • Calcium: 120.31mg
  • Potassium: 595.83mg
  • Iron: 1.73mg
  • Vitamin A: 259.55µg
  • Vitamin C: 62.30mg

Pro Tip for Mastering This Salad Recipe

When preparing the kale, make sure to remove the tough stems and massage the leaves. This will help to break down the fibers and make the kale more tender and easier to eat. To do this, simply tear the leaves from the stems, place them in a bowl, add a little olive oil and use your hands to rub the oil into the leaves. This will also help the dressing to adhere better to the kale.

Time-Saving Tips for Preparing This Salad Recipe

Prep ahead: Chop and wash the kale and radicchio in advance to save time when assembling the salad.

Use pre-cooked pancetta: Consider using pre-cooked pancetta to save time and reduce the cooking process.

Invest in a good quality apple slicer: Using an apple slicer can save time and ensure uniform apple slices for the salad.

Toast pecans in advance: Toast a batch of pecans in advance and store them for later use to save time during salad preparation.

Multi-task: While the pancetta is cooking, prepare the other salad ingredients to maximize efficiency in the kitchen.

Substitute Ingredients For Kale, Apple and Pancetta Salad Recipe

  • kale - Substitute with swiss chard: Swiss chard has a similar texture and flavor profile to kale, making it a great substitute in salads.

  • apple - Substitute with pear: Pears offer a similar sweet and juicy crunch that complements the other flavors in the salad.

  • pancetta - Substitute with prosciutto: Prosciutto provides a similar salty, savory flavor and crispy texture that complements the salad dressing and other ingredients.

Plating Ideas for a Stunning Salad Presentation

  1. Elevate the salad with a unique plating: When presenting the salad, consider using a large, shallow bowl to showcase the vibrant colors and textures of the ingredients. Arrange the kale, apples, and pancetta in an artful manner, creating a visually appealing display that entices the senses.

  2. Incorporate edible flowers for a touch of elegance: Introduce delicate, colorful edible flowers such as nasturtiums or pansies to add a touch of sophistication to the dish. These floral accents not only enhance the visual appeal but also bring a subtle, complementary flavor to the salad.

  3. Utilize contrasting textures for a dynamic presentation: Create a contrast in textures by incorporating crispy pancetta, crunchy pecans, and the hearty kale. This interplay of textures adds depth to the dish and provides a delightful sensory experience for the diners.

  4. Emphasize the balance of flavors: Highlight the harmonious blend of sweet, savory, and tangy flavors by ensuring that each component of the salad is thoughtfully balanced. The interplay of the maple syrup, champagne vinegar, and the natural sweetness of the apples should be evident in every bite.

  5. Present the salad in individual servings: Consider serving the salad in individual portions, perhaps in elegant glass bowls or on small, stylish plates. This approach allows for a more personalized dining experience and showcases the salad as a refined, restaurant-quality dish.

Essential Kitchen Tools for Making This Salad

  • Sauté pan: A sauté pan is a wide, flat-bottomed pan with relatively tall sides, making it perfect for cooking the pancetta and creating the dressing for the salad.

  • Small saucepan: A small saucepan is used to combine the olive oil and pancetta, and to create the dressing by mixing the pan drippings with the champagne vinegar, maple syrup, salt, and pepper.

  • Whisk: A whisk is essential for blending the dressing ingredients together, ensuring a smooth and well-emulsified consistency.

  • Large bowl: A large bowl is needed to toss and mix the radicchio, kale, apples, and pecans together with the dressing, allowing for even distribution of flavors.

  • Strainer: A strainer is used to separate the pan drippings from the crispy pancetta, allowing the drippings to be used for the dressing while keeping the pancetta aside to cool.

  • Tongs: Tongs are useful for tossing the salad ingredients with the dressing, ensuring that everything is evenly coated without crushing the delicate components.

Storage and Freezing Guidelines for Kale, Apple and Pancetta Salad

  • This kale, apple and pancetta salad is best served immediately after tossing with the dressing to maintain its crisp texture and vibrant flavors. However, if you have leftovers or want to prepare the components ahead of time, follow these storage guidelines:
  • Store the dressing separately in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Give it a good shake or whisk before using it to recombine the ingredients.
  • Keep the crispy pancetta in a separate container at room temperature for up to 2 days. If you prefer, you can store it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, but it may lose some of its crispness.
  • If you have leftover dressed salad, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Keep in mind that the kale and radicchio will soften and wilt over time, so the salad won't be as crisp as when freshly made.
  • To prepare the components in advance, you can:
    • Wash, dry, and chop the kale and radicchio up to 2 days ahead. Store them in separate airtight containers or resealable bags in the refrigerator.
    • Slice the apples just before serving to prevent browning. If you need to cut them in advance, toss them with a little lemon juice to slow down the oxidation process and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 day.
    • Toast the pecans up to 1 week in advance and store them in an airtight container at room temperature.
  • While it's not ideal to freeze this salad as the ingredients will lose their texture and flavor when thawed, you can freeze the dressing separately for up to 2 months. Thaw the dressing in the refrigerator overnight before using it, and give it a good whisk to recombine the ingredients.

Interesting Trivia About Kale, Apples, or Pancetta

Kale, apple and pancetta salad is a delicious and nutritious dish that combines the earthy flavors of kale with the sweetness of apples and the savory crunch of pancetta. This salad is not only packed with vitamins and minerals but also offers a delightful combination of textures and flavors. It's a great way to incorporate more greens and fruits into your diet while enjoying a satisfying meal.

Is Making This Salad at Home Cost-Effective?

This kale, apple and pancetta salad recipe is quite cost-effective for a household. The ingredients are relatively affordable and easily accessible. The combination of kale, apples, and pancetta creates a flavorful and satisfying dish. The use of seasonal produce and simple pantry staples keeps the cost low. The approximate cost for a household of 4 people would be around $15-20. Overall, I would rate this recipe an 8 for its affordability and delicious outcome.

Is This Salad Healthy or Not So Much?

The kale, apple, and pancetta salad recipe is a delightful mix of healthy and indulgent ingredients. On the positive side, kale is a nutrient-dense superfood packed with vitamins A, C, and K, as well as fiber and antioxidants. Apples provide additional fiber and vitamin C, while pecans offer heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and minerals like magnesium and zinc. However, the recipe also includes less healthy components such as pancetta, a type of cured meat high in sodium and saturated fat, and maple syrup, which adds sugar to the dish. The olive oil-based dressing, while containing healthy fats, may be used in excess, increasing the overall calorie count.

To make this salad even healthier, consider the following adjustments:

  • Reduce the amount of pancetta or replace it with a leaner protein source like grilled chicken or shrimp
  • Use a lighter hand when dressing the salad to minimize added fats and sugars
  • Swap out the maple syrup for a lower-sugar alternative like honey or balsamic vinegar
  • Add more nutrient-rich ingredients such as shredded carrots, sliced bell peppers, or cherry tomatoes to increase the variety of vitamins and minerals
  • Toast the pecans to enhance their flavor without the need for additional oil or salt

Our Editor's Opinion on This Flavorful Salad Combination

This kale, apple, and pancetta salad recipe is a delightful combination of flavors and textures. The crispy pancetta adds a savory crunch, while the tart apples and hearty kale provide a refreshing and nutritious base. The champagne vinegar and maple syrup dressing perfectly balance the sweetness and acidity, elevating the overall taste. The addition of pecans brings a delightful nuttiness to the dish. Overall, this salad is a perfect blend of sweet, savory, and crunchy elements, making it a delicious and satisfying option for a light meal or a flavorful side dish.

Enhance Your Kale, Apple and Pancetta Salad Recipe with These Unique Side Dishes:

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes: Creamy mashed potatoes with a hint of roasted garlic, perfect for balancing the flavors of the kale, apple, and pancetta salad.
Grilled Asparagus with Lemon Zest: Tender asparagus grilled to perfection and finished with a sprinkle of fresh lemon zest, a refreshing side to accompany the hearty flavors of the salad.
Caramelized Onion and Gruyere Tart: Buttery, flaky tart filled with sweet caramelized onions and rich gruyere cheese, a delightful pairing with the savory pancetta and crisp apples in the salad.

Alternative Recipes Similar to This Salad

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup: This creamy and comforting soup is perfect for a cozy night in. The roasted butternut squash adds a rich and sweet flavor to the dish.
Balsamic Glazed Chicken: This savory and tangy chicken dish is a crowd-pleaser. The balsamic glaze adds a depth of flavor to the tender and juicy chicken.
Mango Coconut Chia Pudding: This tropical-inspired dessert is a healthy and delicious treat. The combination of sweet mango and creamy coconut makes for a refreshing and satisfying pudding.

Appetizers and Desserts to Complement Your Salad

Stuffed Mushrooms: These savory stuffed mushrooms are filled with a flavorful mixture of herbs, cheese, and breadcrumbs, creating a delicious bite-sized appetizer that will leave your guests wanting more.
Bruschetta: Slices of toasted baguette are topped with a vibrant mixture of tomatoes, basil, garlic, and olive oil, creating a refreshing and satisfying appetizer that is perfect for any occasion.
Chocolate Mousse: Indulge in a rich and creamy chocolate mousse, topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cocoa powder. The perfect way to satisfy your sweet tooth!
Strawberry Cheesecake: Delight in a luscious strawberry cheesecake, with a buttery graham cracker crust and a sweet strawberry topping. A classic dessert that never disappoints.

Why trust this Kale, Apple and Pancetta Salad Recipe:

This recipe offers a delightful combination of flavors and textures, making it a must-try for any salad enthusiast. The use of pancetta adds a savory and crispy element, while the champagne vinegar and maple syrup dressing provide a perfect balance of sweet and tangy. The inclusion of kale and radicchio ensures a nutritious base, complemented by the refreshing crunch of apples and the rich nuttiness of pecans. The careful preparation and thoughtful combination of ingredients make this salad a trustworthy and delightful addition to any meal.

Discuss this Kale, Apple and Pancetta Salad Recipe with fellow cooking enthusiasts in the Recipe Sharing forum.
What type of kale should I use for this salad?
I recommend using curly kale for this salad. Its sturdy leaves hold up well to the dressing and maintain their texture.
Can I use a different type of vinegar if I don't have champagne vinegar?
Yes, you can substitute champagne vinegar with white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar for a similar flavor profile.
How far in advance can I make this salad?
You can prepare the dressing and chop the ingredients a few hours in advance, but I recommend tossing the salad with the dressing just before serving to keep the kale and apples fresh and crisp.
Can I make this salad vegetarian?
Absolutely! You can omit the pancetta and still have a delicious salad. You can also add some shaved Parmesan or crumbled feta for an extra flavor boost.
What can I serve this salad with?
This salad pairs well with grilled chicken, roasted pork, or even a simple pasta dish. It's versatile and adds a refreshing crunch to any meal.

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