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Kale Citrus Salad with Grilled Lemon Basil Dressing

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Kale citrus salad is here to warm our taste buds into fresh spring flavors! Grilled Meyer lemons and basil dressing massaged into chopped tuscan kale topped with juicy grapefruit and blood orange, creamy goat cheese, savory shallots and sweet honey drizzle.

Ready for fresh spring flavors? This time of year is one of my favorites because you can start to see the change in the produce. The shelves are popping with all sorts of citrus goodness and we are here for it!

kale citrus salad with grapefruit and blood orange

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What are your favorite spring citrus fruits? Meyer lemons are always my go to when I can find them, but blood oranges are so vibrant and sweet. Of course there’s always grapefruit on stand by being underrated, and if you haven’t tried Cara Cara oranges yet I have two words. PLEASE DO.

But in the meantime, go to the store. Get yourself some kale (or some other leafy green!), some bright and sunny citrus and make this Kale Citrus Salad because its going to brighten your day!

Lemon Basil Dressing

A salad is only as good as it’s dressing right? Like finding the perfect dress but not having the right shoes, you need your leafy greens with a little sparkle of dressing. This lemon basil dressing has alllll the spring mojo going on.

  • Bright lemon
  • sweet caramelization
  • fresh basil
  • touch of honey
  • rich olive oil
  • spicy garlic

The perfect balance to the pop of juicy, acidic fruit and the crunch greens. I wish I looked this good all dressed up.

The key here is the grilling of the lemons. As much as I try to be a recipe purist, here are a few truths. 1.) You can substitute regular lemons for Meyer lemons. Meyer lemons are naturally sweeter, so your dressing might have a bit more zing if you substitute but overall it will still be great taste. 2.) You should really try to grill them, but if you substitute regular lemon juice it will still be tasty.

Grilling the lemons caramelizes the natural sugars in the fruit making it sweeter and less bitter. The warm fruit will also be easier to juice, just be sure to strain out any seeds.

If your grill is still covered under 2 feet of snow (here, right here ::sobs quietly::) you can still get beautiful grill flavor using stove top grill pan. This one is most similar to the one we have and love.

dressing pouring over kale salad

Side note, making salad dressing can be done so many ways. Classic style with just a whisk or in a food processor, but my personal favorite is using one of these hand blenders. It’s easy to pulse and break up bigger ingredients like garlic cloves and the fresh basil while emulsifying the olive oil and with other liquids to just the right thickness that won’t separate after storing.

How to make Kale Citrus Salad

Step 1 – love citrus fruits.

Step 2 – prep some things

Step 3 – put on your favorite good weather music, sit down and enjoy.

We can manage that right? Ok, ok, there might be a few more details involved in ‘Step 2’. Like how to cut the citrus. It’s not difficult, but it makes a difference when your blood orange segments are juicy and ready to go.

close up of blood oranges and grapefruits on kale citrus salad

Cut off each end of the round fruits, then stand the fruit on one of the ends. Using a sharp knife, slice off the rind cutting as close to it as possible. Then slice the juicy citrus in 1/4″ rounds. The grapefruit rounds will need to be quartered to make them bite sized, or leave them whole if you like a challenge.

The hardest part in the prep process of this Kale Citrus Salad is the savory shallots – and bonus, it’s really not that hard. Melt butter, add shallots, season, sauté, done. Phew! We’re killing it right now.

small bowl of kale citrus salad topped with thinly slice avocado

Finish up this beauty of a spring salad by adding the final toppings – healthy fats, herbs, and a touch of sweet. A drizzle of sweet honey over the blood orange and grapefruit adds just the right amount of balance. Creamy goat cheese and fresh avocado slices add the necessary good fats for kale citrus salad to be healthy and filling. While a sprinkle of fresh basil adds a final umphf of fresh sweet herb flavor!

Need more delicious spring salads in your life? Get inspired with these beauties!

kale citrus salad in a serving bowl

Kale Citrus Salad with Grilled Lemon Basil Dressing

Get ready for fresh flavors in this Kale Citrus Salad!  Juicy grapefruit and blood oranges, lemon dressing massaged into chopped kale with creamy goat cheese, savory shallots, and sweet honey drizzle.
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Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: kale citrus salad, spring salads, sweet and savory salad, winter citrus
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 368kcal
Author: Lauren


Grilled Meyer Lemon Basil Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice from 2 grilled meyer lemons
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of white pepper
  • 2 large basil leaves torn

Kale Citrus Salad with Lemon Basil Dressing

  • 1 large head tuscan kale
  • 2 blood oranges
  • 1 grapefruit
  • 2 shallots cut in 1/4" half moon slices
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 avocado thinly sliced
  • 4 basil leaves chiffonade
  • 3 ounces goat cheese crumbled
  • 2 teaspoons honey


Grilled Meyer Lemon Dressing

  • Heat a grill pan, or regular grill, over high heat.  Slice each Meyer lemon in half and place flesh side down on the grill pan.  Grill until soft, warm and dark grill lines appear on the flesh of the lemon, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Combine the grilled lemon juice, garlic, dijon, olive oil, honey, water, basil, salt and pepper in a food processor or high sided dish.  Using the food processor or hand blender, pulse to mince ingredients then blend until the olive oil is emulsified (doesn't separate from lemon juice.)

Kale Citrus Salad with Lemon Basil Dressing

  • Remove the large stem from each of the kale leaves, chop into bite sized pieces, wash and dry thoroughly.  Coat the leaves with the dressing, massaging it into the kale.
  • Cut off the ends of the blood orange and grapefruit.  Standing the citrus on end, cut the rind off as close to the flesh of fruit as possible.  Slice into 1/4" rounds and scatter over the kale.
  • In a small sauce pan melt the butter over medium high heat.  Add the shallots, season with salt and saute until coated with the butter.  Cook for 5 minutes until browned and slightly crispy.  Scatter over the salad and add thinly sliced avocado.
  • Lay the basil leaves on top of each other and roll from one side to the other.  Slice thinly with the knife.  Crumble the goat cheese over the salad, then sprinkle the basil and drizzle with honey.


Calories: 368kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 17mg | Sodium: 89mg | Potassium: 428mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 1439IU | Vitamin C: 38mg | Calcium: 66mg | Iron: 1mg



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Recipe Rating


Monday 18th of March 2019

That salad looks so beautiful. I absolutely love the flavors and that dressing sounds so good. Love the addition of Dijon mustard btw :) I will definitely make this salad soon. I'm having a guest this weekend and I will impress them with this recipe.


Sunday 17th of March 2019

This salad is so beautiful!!! I have yet to successfully find any blood oranges this season and it is killing me; I'm buying out the whole store when I finally find them so I will have plenty left to make this salad!


Sunday 17th of March 2019

Yes please! I'm ready for all things light and bright like spring! That lemon basil dressing sounds fantastic!

Jessica (Swanky Recipes)

Sunday 17th of March 2019

I am so excited spring is on its way because not only does that mean warmer weather, but spring holidays! I'm already planning out my menus and this salad is beautiful! I love all the fresh flavors and colors plus the ingredient list sounds amazing together!


Sunday 17th of March 2019

What a gorgeous salad! I'm getting lots of spring vibes from this with those beautiful citrus fruits. I love kale salads so I'm def going to make this!