This post is sponsored by Roth Cheese. Expertly crafted in Southern Wisconsin, their high-quality cheeses are near & dear to this Cheesehead’s heart. All thoughts & opinions are my own.
I have one question for you today, & that’s this: are you ready for a sucker punch of autumnal flavor?
Because it’s about to go down.
It’s a whole salty, slightly sweet, rich, savory, hearty, totally satisfying but also somehow still very light & fresh situation, & I cannot get over it. This salad is SO good.
(According to Chris, who is reluctant about anything having to do with kale, autumn kale salad is the best recipe to hit PWWB in recent history – it really says a lot coming from him!)
Autumn Kale Salad Recipe Highlights
The autumn-est of autumn kale salads is complete with…
- Satisfying & good-for-you kale,
- Perfectly sweet & crisp apples,
- Bursts of creamy & tangy crumbled goat cheese gems,
- Salty & rich pancetta,
- Which also helps create addictively crispy pancetta-pretzel(!) croutons,
- All doused in cinnamon maple balsamic vinaigrette
YES, YES, YES!! Friends, autumn is upon us & this Autumn Kale Salad is gonna rock your world all season long.
Autumn salads do not get better than this! ♡ Read on to learn more about this Autumn Kale Salad, or jump straight to the recipe & get cookin’!
Autumn Kale Salad Ingredients
My favorite part of this autumn kale salad is that it’s relatively simple to make with just a handful of ingredients you’re bound to have on hand this time of year, each offering a key flavor or texture that the salad wouldn’t really be complete without. You know, the whole “greater than the sum of its parts” sorta deal.
The cast of characters includes:
- Kale: Of course! I like Lacinato kale best (it’s also called Dinosaur), though any variety will work.
- Apples: A must. This autumn salad wouldn’t be complete without diced apples. Honeycrisp, I 💜 you!
- Red Onion: Adds a little something extra & helps cut the sweetness.
- Walnuts: For flavor & crunch.
- Pancetta: Uncured Italian bacon & can easily be swapped with regular ol’ bacon if that’s what you can easily find.
- Pretzel Rolls: For pancetta-pretzel croutons!
- Goat Cheese: The single element that ties all of the components of this salad together! You’ll taste creamy & tangy crumbles of goat cheese in every single bite. Love that!
Aside from some staple spices & a yummy salad dressing of choice (mine is cinnamon balsamic vinaigrette & it’s magical ✨), that’s seriously it. Big, big flavor, very minimal ingredients. Heck yes.
Tell Me More About Pancetta-Pretzel Croutons!
I’m sure the fact that this salad is studded with pancetta-pretzel croutons has something to do with Chris’ fondness for this recipe, because, like, how could it not!
You cube up some soft pretzel rolls & toss them into rendered pancetta (aka, Italian bacon) fat. The croutons toast up to golden & crunchy perfection in just 5-ish minutes (not to mention, your kitchen will smell like heaven). They add so much character to this salad: they’re rich, salty, pretzel-y perfection, which is basically everything I want out of any fall recipe from now on. RIGHT?
Why Goat Cheese?
It’s creamy, tangy, and adds so much flavor to any recipe. I am obsessed with anything having to do with goat cheese, so I am especially thrilled to be working with Roth Cheese this fall! Roth Cheese’s team of expert cheesemakers operates just outside of Madison, WI (makes my Wisconsinite heart pitter-patter!), so you know they know a thing or two when it comes to cheese.
& Their brand new chèvre fresh goat cheese? It is so good. Like, honestly the best chèvre I’ve had! It tastes super fresh & has just the right amount of tanginess – not overpowering, but still there. Plus, aside from the plain goat cheese used here, they have a couple of really fun flavors perfect for fall & holiday entertaining, like honey & blueberry.
You can find Roth Chèvre in Walmart Supercenters nationwide – click here to find the nearest location to you!
How to Make This Autumn Kale Salad
Simple ingredient list? Check. Simple to prepare? Check. You can throw this autumn kale salad together, from scratch, in about 25 minutes (or even less, if you can multitask a little bit in the kitchen!).
Here’s the rundown:
- Cook the pancetta. Toss diced pancetta on into a large skillet over medium heat until crispy. Once cooked, use a slotted spoon to transfer those crispy little gems to a plate & set aside. Keep the rendered fat in the skillet for croutons.
- Make pancetta-pretzel croutons. Yep, we’re doing it! Add some cubed pretzel rolls into the same skillet you used to cook the pancetta. Toss quickly to coat them in the pancetta renderings, then toast them up to the perfect level of crispy golden brown goodness.
- Whip up a quick vinaigrette. I give my maple balsamic vinaigrette recipe a cozy fall twist by adding a sprinkle of cinnamon & IT IS SO GOOD.
- Massage the kale. Add a bunch of shredded kale to a large bowl & drizzle some of the vinaigrette over top. Use your hands to “massage” the dressing into the kale, until the kale wilts down & turns vibrantly green. It sounds ridiculously high-maintenance, & it sort of is – kale is a diva like that, but it makes a tremendous difference in the overall texture of the kale.
- Pile it all on & toss, toss, toss. Add the apples, red onions, walnuts, goat cheese, pancetta, & pretzel croutons. Drizzle with some extra vinaigrette, give it a quick toss, & you’re all set.
A couple of moving parts, but a very simple recipe!
If you’re keen on meal prep, you can simplify things even further by shredding the kale & prepping your vinaigrette in advance. Both will keep, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for about 1 week. At dinnertime, all you really have to do is cook up some pancetta & you’ll be good to go!
Serving Autumn Kale Salad
Because it’s so simple & because it tastes so quintessentially fall, I encourage you to whip up this loaded autumn salad all season long. It’s perfect for…
- Simple weeknight dinners – hearty enough to stand alone as an entrée salad, or top it with your favorite protein (grilled chicken would be major yums).
- As a side dish along with your favorite fall recipes.
- Meal prepped weekday lunches – prep all the components at the beginning of the week, then toss together a salad before you head out the door in the morning.
- Fall dinner parties – totally girl’s night worthy.
- Fall potlucks – assemble the salad beforehand, then toss with some vinaigrette just before serving… it’ll be the talk of the town!
- Thanksgiving – if Thanksgiving were a salad, this would most certainly be it!
I hope you give this Autumn Kale Salad recipe a try very soon – I know it’ll rock your fall-lovin’ socks off! If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations! Happy cooking! ♡
Oh, & next time you’re at Walmart, be sure to grab yourself a log of Roth chèvre (or, ahem, like, an armful) – I know you’ll use it all autumn long!
An Autumn Kale Salad, perfect for fall! This easy kale salad recipe strikes the perfect balance of healthy yet hearty & satisfying: massaged kale gets tossed with crisp apples, creamy & tangy goat cheese, salty & rich pancetta, & there may or may not be pancetta-pretzel croutons in the equation too!
- 8 ounces pancetta (or bacon), diced
- 2 pretzel rolls (about 2 ounces each), diced into 1-inch cubes
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 large bunch kale, destemmed & finely shredded
- 2 medium apples (I like Honeycrisp), diced or sliced
- ½ red onion, thinly sliced
- ½ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
- 4 ounces Roth Plain Chèvre Goat Cheese, crumbled
- kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
for the cinnamon maple balsamic vinaigrette:
- ⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ⅓ cup aged balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Cook the pancetta: Add the pancetta to a large skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pancetta has rendered its fat & becomes crispy, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked pancetta to a plate or bowl & set aside.
- Make the pancetta-pretzel croutons: Working quickly, add the pretzel cubes to the skillet with the rendered pancetta fat. Carefully toss to coat. Season with the garlic powder and a pinch of salt, then toss to coat again. Let the pretzel croutons brown & crisp on all sides, stirring occasionally to prevent them from browning too far. It’s important to kind of let the pretzel croutons do their thing, since direct contact with the skillet is what creates the beautiful browning you want on a crouton, but keep a watchful eye on them since you don’t want them to burn.
- Make the cinnamon maple balsamic vinaigrette: Meanwhile, as the pancetta & croutons cook, prep the cinnamon maple balsamic vinaigrette. Add all listed ingredients to a jar. Seal & shake to combine. Alternatively, if you’d like a creamier vinaigrette, add all ingredients to a blender or food processor & pulse to combine. Set aside, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- Massage the kale: Add the shredded kale to a large bowl. Drizzle a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette over top. Using your hands, work the vinaigrette into the kale, until the kale softens slightly & becomes vibrantly green.
- Assemble the salad: To the large bowl with the shredded kale, add the apples, red onion, walnuts, goat cheese, pancetta & pretzel croutons. Drizzle more vinaigrette over top and toss to combine. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
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