This cherry kale salad with balsamic tahini dressing features fresh, juicy cherries, tender kale, candied pecans, thinly sliced red onion, tangy goat cheese and creamy avocado. It’s a beautiful salad that celebrates the summer cherry!Jump to Recipe
Cherries are made for salads
I love fresh summer fruit. My go-tos include berries, watermelon, and peaches. Cherries, a lot of times for me, are on the back burner. But when I walked into my local grocery store, I saw a bag of this pretty ruby gem, I decided to grab some. I’m so glad I did! I forgot how much I love this fruit!
These red, almost heart-shaped fruits are juicy and sweet with a touch of acidity, giving them a light tartness that makes them wonderfully balanced. They’re great for snacking or adding to yogurt. Their balanced flavor and succulent texture lend them to savory dishes. Plus, their sweet juicy goodness makes them ideal for dessert as well.
I also love adding them to salads for a pop of color and freshness. In this cherry kale salad, I pair the tart, sweet cherries with hearty kale, candied pecans, thinly sliced sharp red onion, tangy goat cheese and creamy avocado. Then, the salad is dressed with a sweet, nutty, and creamy balsamic tahini dressing. It’s a well-balanced, stunning, vibrant salad that celebrates cherries.
Here’s what you’ll need for this cherry kale salad:
- Fresh, Ripe Cherries, the star ingredient. Adds a fresh, juicy, pop! And that ruby red color….swoon!
- Curly or Baby Kale, both are a heartier green, rich in nutrients, that add a bold green color plus holds up to the creamy dressing.
- Candied Pecans, adds crunch and a bit more sweetness.
- Red Onions, adds a sharp, almost spicy bite that tames the other sweet flavors.
- Goat Cheese, adds tangy, creamy deliciousness. I also love goat cheese with sweet, succulent fruits.
- Avocado, adds a mild, creamy, earthy flavor that pairs well with the other bold, rich flavors.
The Balsamic Tahini Dressing
This dressing is the perfect addition to this salad. It’s a little sweet from the balsamic and maple but also a little earthy and nutty from the tahini. It balances the other sweet, tangy flavors in the salad.
It’s also very simple to make – simply combine the nutty tahini, acidic, sweet balsamic, rich, sweet maple and tangy dijon till all combined. Then, slowly whisk in the rich olive oil until it creates a cohesive, luscious dressing. For another pop of flavor, add a bit of fresh garlic (or garlic powder). Finally, season with salt and pepper, to your liking.
This dressing is completely addictive, and works well on so many dishes (roasted veggies, quinoa bowls, or even grilled chicken!). You can store it in your fridge for about 1 week.
The right cherries for this salad!
When people think of cherries, they might automatically think of cherry pie filling from the can or maraschino cherries found in a Shirley Temple – I know that’s what I thought as a kid. But cherries are so much more complex (and tasty) than that! There are actually 1000 different varieties of cherries grown in the US, each with their own texture, sweetness, and flavor. Woah…I know! There is so much more to cherries than the processed ones found at the store. The fresh ones are best and divine in salads or on their own!
My fav for this salad is Bing cherries. They have a gorgeous deep red hue and a sweet, tart taste which pair well with the other flavors in the salad. I also like Rainier cherries for this salad. It’s lighter in color and a bit sweeter in taste, so is a good substitute for the Bing cherry if you prefer a sweeter flavor.
You can find cherries in the produce section of your grocery store. Cherry season is from May to August, so now is the perfect time to make this salad, before the season is over!
One thing I love about salads is how easily you can customize them! Here’s some fun ways to make this salad your own:
- Try another stone fruit. If cherries are not your cup of tea, then feel free to sub them out! Peaches or plums would also work great!
- Get creative with the cheese. Goat cheese is my go to cheese for summery salads. I think it’s creamy, tangy flavor pairs well with sweet, ripe summer fruits. I used a plain goat cheese here, but you could try a flavored one, like herb or honey. You could even try a sharper, funkier cheese like, bleu cheese or feta. Go wild and have fun with it!
- Load on the veggies. I just used red onion and kale, but feel free to add more veggies! You could totally add others like broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, cabbage, roasted beets, or whatever you have in your fridge or garden!
- Switch up the onions. I just used plain thinly sliced red onions. But. you could add green onions instead of red or a pickled red onion for a vinegary pop.
- Add more greens. I love kale for this salad because it’s hearty texture stands up the the bold, creamy dressing. But there’s no stopping you from adding other greens. Arugula and spinach would be welcome guests to this party!
- Pack on the protein. Grilled chicken or shrimp would work well in this salad. I also think grilled steak would work wonderfully with the sweet, tart cherries!
Other great summer salads
Fresh, bright salads are perfect for hot summer days. Here are some of my other favs:
- Blood Orange and Kale Salad with Savory Granola
- Italian Chopped Salad
- Asian Mason Jar Salads
- Berry Beet Salad with Blueberry Vinaigrette
- Strawberry Farro Salad with Poppyseed Dressing
This cherry kale salad is as delicious as it is pretty! Fresh, juicy cherries, tender kale, candied pecans, thinly sliced red onion, tangy goat cheese and creamy avocado – it’s magic!
If you make these cherry kale salad, please leave a comment below. I absolutely love to hear from you guys and your thoughts on my recipes. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram or pin it on pinterest, cuz sharing is caring!
Cherry Kale Salad with Balsamic Tahini Dressing
Cherry Kale Salad
- 2 cups chopped kale
- 6 ounces crumbled goat cheese
- Half of a medium red onion thinly sliced
- 1 cup pitted bing cherries cut in half
- 1/2 cup candied pecans regular works too
- 1 small avocado thinly sliced
Tahini Balsamic Dressing
- ¼ cup tahini
- 2 T balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup more if desired
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
To a large bowl, add kale and top with remaining salad ingredients.
For dressing, combine the tahini, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, and dijon mustard until well combined. Whisk in olive oil until dressing all combined. Season with garlic powder, salt and pepper.
Dress salad and toss to coat. Enjoy!