Easy Citrus Kale Salad With Grilled Chicken

This vibrant and nutritious Easy Citrus Kale Salad recipe features grilled chicken, juicy oranges, crunchy pumpkin seeds, creamy goat feta, and tangy dried cranberries—the best kale salad for a refreshing summer meal.

Best Easy Citrus Kale Salad

As summer shines bright, there’s nothing like a refreshing, nutrient-packed salad to keep you energized and satisfied. This kale salad is vibrant and delicious with grilled chicken, juicy oranges, crunchy pumpkin seeds, creamy goat feta, and tangy dried cranberries. This delightful combination pleases your palate and offers a powerhouse of nutrients. 

You know how much I love cooking and experimenting with different foods, right? Lately, I’ve been really into making salads because it is summer, after all,  and I wanted to share why they’ve become such a favorite of mine. You might enjoy them just as much!

First off, salads are super nutritious. I love knowing that I’m getting a ton of vitamins and minerals from all the fresh veggies and fruits I toss in. It’s an easy way to make sure I’m eating healthy without even trying. Plus, they keep me feeling energized and just generally good.

One of the best parts about salads is how creative you can get with them. Seriously, the possibilities are endless. Sometimes I’ll throw in some mango and avocado for a tropical twist or add nuts and seeds for a bit of crunch. The other day, I tried a dressing with tahini and lemon, which was amazing! Mixing and matching ingredients and coming up with new flavor combinations is fun.

Another thing I love is how quick and easy they are to make. You know how busy our schedules can get, but with salads, there’s minimal prep. Just chop up some ingredients, mix them together, and you’re good to go. 

They are perfect for days when you want to spend less time in the kitchen but still want something delicious and healthy.

Salads are also super versatile. They can be a side dish, a main course, or even a breakfast option if you’re feeling adventurous. I’ve made hearty salads with grilled chicken or tofu that are really filling and lighter ones that are great as a side. It’s such a flexible meal option.

And the flavors! Salads are never dull. When you start playing around with different ingredients, you realize how many options you have. You can have it all in one bowl: sweet, savory, tangy, and crunchy. It’s like a party for your taste buds.

Nutritional Benefits

  • Kale: Rich in vitamins A, C, and K, kale is a fantastic base for this salad. It’s also high in fiber and antioxidants.
  • Chicken: A great source of lean protein, grilled chicken adds substance and keeps you full longer.
  • Oranges: Packed with vitamin C and natural sweetness, oranges brighten up the salad and boost your immune system.
  • Pumpkin Seeds: These seeds add a satisfying crunch and are loaded with magnesium, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Goat Cheese/Feta: Creamy and tangy, goat feta provides calcium and a bit of protein, enhancing the salad’s flavor.
  • Dried Cranberries: These add a touch of sweetness and are high in antioxidants.

Ingredient For Citrus Kale Salad

Kale: Kale is a leafy green vegetable known for its robust nutritional profile. It is rich in vitamins A, C, and K, as well as antioxidants and fiber. Kale has a slightly bitter taste that mellows out when massaged or dressed properly, making it a hearty and healthy base for salads. 

Chicken Breasts: Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are a lean source of protein, essential for muscle repair and growth. When grilled, they add a savory flavor and tender texture to the salad, making it more filling and nutritious.

Beets: Beets are a vibrant root vegetable known for their rich, earthy flavor and deep red color. Packed with essential nutrients like vitamin C, potassium, and fiber, they offer numerous health benefits, including improved digestion and heart health. Beets can be enjoyed in various forms—roasted, boiled, pickled, or raw—adding a sweet, nutritious boost to salads and other dishes.

Oranges: Oranges are citrus fruits bursting with vitamin C, antioxidants, and natural sweetness. Their juicy segments add a refreshing, zesty note to the salad, complementing the other ingredients perfectly.

Pumpkin Seeds (Pepitas): Pumpkin seeds are small, green seeds packed with essential nutrients like magnesium, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids. They provide a delightful crunch and a nutty flavor to the salad, enhancing its overall texture and nutritional value.

Goat Feta: Goat feta is a soft, crumbly cheese with a tangy flavor. It is lower in lactose than cow’s milk cheese and is rich in calcium and protein. The creamy texture and distinctive taste of goat feta add a gourmet touch to the salad.

Dried Cranberries: Dried cranberries are sweet and tart, bringing a chewy texture and vibrant flavor to the salad. They are high in antioxidants and fiber, making them a healthy and flavorful addition to the mix.

Instructions For Chicken Kale Salad Recipe

Preparing the Chicken

  1. Marinate the Chicken:
    • In a small bowl, mix 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of orange juice, salt, and pepper.
    • Place the chicken breasts in a resealable plastic bag or a shallow dish and pour the marinade over them. Let it marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours for more flavor.
  2. Grill the Chicken:
    • Preheat your grill to medium-high heat.
    • Grill the chicken breasts for  6-7 minutes per side or until fully cooked and the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F (75°C).
    • Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before slicing it into strips.
  3. You can also use rotisserie chicken if you don’t have a grill.

How to Roast Beets

  1. Preheat Oven: Set to 400°F (200°C).
  2. Prepare Beets: Wash, trim, and optionally peel beets.
  3. Cut Beets: Slice into rounds, wedges, or cubes.
  4. Season: Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper on a baking sheet.
  5. Roast: Bake for 30-40 minutes until tender, checking with a fork.

Assembling the Salad

  1. Prepare the Kale:
    •  Grab bunches of the kale leaves and remove them from the steam. Chop the kale. Place kale in a large bowl or salad bowl. I like to use curly kale, but you can also use lacinato kale or dinosaur kale; just make sure to massage for a longer time to break down the fiber.
    • Add a pinch of salt and drizzle a little olive oil over the kale.
    • Massage the kale with your hands for a few minutes until it becomes tender and slightly wilted. 
  2. Add the Ingredients:
    • Add the orange segments, pumpkin seeds, roasted beets, crumbled goat feta, and dried cranberries to the kale.
  3. Add the Grilled Chicken:
    • Place the sliced grilled chicken on the salad and sprinkle with black pepper or red pepper flakes for a spicy kick. 

Making the Dressing (Easy Homemade Vinaigrette) or Full Recipe Orange Poppy Seed Vinaigrette

  1. Combine the Ingredients:
    • In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, orange juice, apple cider vinegar, honey or maple syrup, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper until well combined.
  2. Dress the Salad:
    • Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss gently to combine all the ingredients evenly.

Dressing Ingredients

Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Extra virgin olive oil is a heart-healthy fat rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. It forms the base of the dressing, providing a smooth and robust flavor that ties all the ingredients together.

Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice: Freshly squeezed orange juice adds a natural sweetness and acidity to the dressing. It enhances the citrus notes in the salad and provides an extra boost of vitamin C.

Apple Cider Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar is known for its tangy taste and numerous health benefits, including aiding digestion and balancing blood sugar levels. It adds a sharp acidity that complements the sweetness of the oranges and honey.

Honey: Honey is a natural sweetener that balances the acidity of the vinegar and mustard in the dressing. It also adds a touch of floral flavor, enriching the overall taste of the salad.

Dijon Mustard: Dijon mustard brings a mild heat and tangy depth to the dressing. It helps emulsify the ingredients, creating a smooth , cohesive blend that coats the salad evenly.

Salt and Pepper: Salt and pepper are essential seasonings enhancing flavors. 

Serving Suggestions

This healthy salad  with grilled chicken, oranges, pumpkin seeds, goat feta, and dried cranberries makes for a perfect main course, especially during warm weather. It’s also an excellent dish to bring to a potluck or picnic. You can pair it with a crisp white wine or a light, refreshing lemonade.

Why I Love Making This Easy Citrus Kale Salad

When it comes to meals that truly excite me, this kale salad with grilled chicken, oranges, pumpkin seeds, goat feta, and dried cranberries is at the top of my list. Here’s why I adore making and eating this salad:

1. Nutritional Boost: I’m always looking for ways to fuel my body with wholesome, nutrient-dense foods, and this salad ticks all the boxes. The kale is packed with vitamins and antioxidants, the chicken provides lean protein, and the various toppings add healthy fats, fiber, and more essential nutrients. It’s a satisfying meal that leaves me feeling energized and nourished.

2. A Symphony of Flavors: One of the things I love most about this salad is the incredible blend of flavors. The slight bitterness of the kale, the juicy sweetness of the oranges, the creamy tanginess of the goat feta, the crunchy pumpkin seeds, and the chewy, tart dried cranberries all come together to create a taste sensation that keeps me coming back for more. Every bite is a delightful mix of tastes and textures.

3. Versatility and Convenience: As someone who juggles multiple responsibilities, I appreciate meals that are quick to prepare and versatile. This salad is incredibly easy to put together. I can grill the chicken in advance, making it perfect for meal prep. Whether I’m having it for a light lunch, a hearty dinner, or even a picnic, it fits seamlessly into my busy schedule.

4. Health Benefits: Eating this salad regularly has had a noticeable positive impact on my health. The fiber from the kale and dried cranberries helps with digestion, while the healthy fats from the olive oil and pumpkin seeds support my heart health. The protein from the chicken keeps me full and aids in muscle maintenance. Plus, the antioxidants from the oranges and cranberries boost my immune system.

5. Seasonal and Fresh Ingredients: I love taking advantage of fresh, seasonal produce, and this salad lets me do just that. Ripe oranges and fresh kale enhance the flavor and ensure I get the maximum nutritional benefits from these ingredients. It’s a wonderful way to celebrate the changing seasons with fresh, vibrant food.

6. Beautiful Presentation: I find joy in creating meals that are not only tasty but also visually appealing. The vibrant colors of the kale, oranges, cranberries, and feta make this salad a feast for the eyes. It’s always a hit when I serve it to friends and family, bringing elegance to my everyday meals.

Making this kale salad with grilled chicken, oranges, pumpkin seeds, goat feta, and dried cranberries has become my beloved ritual. It’s a perfect salad for lunch or dinner and for a summer party—it’s more than just a meal. It’s high protein, easy to make, and features nutrient-dense kale and a delicious orange poppy seed vinaigrette. This is one of those summer salads recipe that you will go back to and make it over and over again.

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Easy Citrus Kale Salad With Grilled Chicken

Easy Citrus Kale Salad With Grilled Chicken

This vibrant and nutritious Easy Citrus Kale Salad recipe features grilled chicken, juicy oranges, crunchy pumpkin seeds, creamy goat feta, and tangy dried cranberries—the best kale salad for a refreshing summer meal.
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Course: Dinner, lunch, Salad
Cuisine: Healthy
Keyword: Citrus kale salad, Kale salad
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 458kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 Kale Curly, medium size
  • 2 Oranges Segmented
  • 3 Beets Roasted and cubes
  • 4 Chicken breast Grilled and sliced
  • 3/4 cup Feta cheese Goat, sheep or cow
  • 1/2 cup Pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup Dried cranberries

Dressing

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, orange juice, apple cider vinegar, honey or maple syrup, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper until well combined.
  • Recipe in the notes

Instructions

  • Preparing the Chicken
    Marinate the Chicken: In a small bowl, mix 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of orange juice, salt, and pepper. Place the chicken breasts in a resealable plastic bag or a shallow dish and pour the marinade over them. Let it marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours for more flavor.
    How to Roast Beets
    Preheat Oven: Set to 400°F (200°C).
    Prepare Beets: Wash, trim, and optionally peel beets.
    Cut Beets: Slice into rounds, wedges, or cubes.
    Season: Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper on a baking sheet.
    Roast: Bake for 30-40 minutes until tender, checking with a fork.
    Grill the Chicken: Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Grill the chicken breasts for  6-7 minutes per side or until fully cooked, and the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F (75°C). Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before slicing it into strips. If you don't have a grill, you can also use rotisserie chicken.
    Assembling the Salad
    Prepare the Kale: Grab bunches of the kale leaves and remove them from the steam. Chop the kale. Place kale in a large bowl or salad bowl. I like to use curly kale, but you can also use lacinato kale or dinosaur kale; just make sure to massage for a longer time to break down the fiber. Add a pinch of salt and drizzle a little olive oil over the kale. Massage the kale with your hands for a few minutes until it becomes tender and slightly wilted. 
    Add the Ingredients: Add the orange segments, pumpkin seeds, beets, crumbled goat feta, and dried cranberries to the kale.
    Add the Grilled Chicken: Place the sliced grilled chicken on the salad and sprinkle with black pepper or red pepper flakes for a spicy kick. 

Nutrition

Calories: 458kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 56g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 170mg | Sodium: 633mg | Potassium: 1250mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 630IU | Vitamin C: 43mg | Calcium: 197mg | Iron: 2mg
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