This Kale Chickpea Salad is my new favorite kale salad! The kale is massaged in a lemon vinaigrette with spiced roasted chickpeas and chopped pistachios, it’s perfect as a side salad or loaded up with your favorite protein and other add-ins for a main dish salad. Naturally vegan & gluten-free.

Meet my new favorite kale chickpea salad. This salad has been on repeat in my house for a few months now, and I’ve been making it at least once a week. Sometimes as a side salad, sometimes as a main salad with extra goodies added in – any way that I’ve made it, it’s been delicious. It’s even been requested by the supposed “kale haters” in my family. Each time I’ve posted it on my Instagram, the recipe has been requested, so I finally got it posted here for you!

I love my salads, and I’m generally a big kale salad lover (see: my vegan kale caesar salad & this amazing autumn kale harvest salad). But, I know not everyone loves kale as much as I do, and that’s usually because they’ve been burned by scratchy, poorly dressed kale. It’s so important to make sure you treat the kale right!

Why massage your kale?

The kale massage is KEY for this kale chickpea salad – it takes your kale from rough and throat-scratchy, to soft and absolutely delicious. When you massage the finely sliced kale with the dressing, you’re manually breaking down the fibers in the kale, while the acid in the lemon and the salt from the dressing soften the kale even further. It’s a game-changer. If you think you don’t like kale, try this method and see if you still don’t! Massaged kale is a major game-changer, and I’ve transformed many supposed kale haters by preparing it for them just like this.

How to make lemon vinaigrette:

While technically this is a citronette, not a vinaigrette, we’re calling it a vinaigrette for ease. (The technicality comes in because we’re using lemon as the acid, as opposed to vinegar.) This one is so easy to make and absolutely delicious.

You can make an extra-large batch of this dressing to have on hand – it will stay good in the fridge for around 5 days, maybe even longer, and is so tasty on any kind of greens or grain bowls.

To make it, you’ll need:

  • Lemons
  • Garlic
  • Salt & pepper
  • Tahini or Dijon mustard
  • Olive oil
  • Nutritional yeast or parmesan, optional
  • Garlic salt, optional

To prepare it, you’ll combine the lemon juice and zest, grated garlic, salt, pepper, and tahini or dijon. Blend to emulsify, and then slowly stream in the olive oil, whisking the whole time, to emulsify it into the lemon juice. Add the nutritional yeast or parmesan and any additional seasonings. Instead of whisking, you can also combine all of the ingredients in a jar and shake well until emulsified. Make sure to taste it and ensure it’s well seasoned before using.

Spiced and roasted chickpeas on a baking sheet

Making crunchy roasted chickpeas

Roasted chickpeas are one of my favorite things to make, and they’re so easy and delicious in this kale chickpea salad. I’ve been making these spicy garlic roasted chickpeas for years, and the ones in this salad are a variation on them! Making them is simple:

  1. Rinse and dry cooked chickpeas (canned works just fine).
  2. Drizzle with olive oil and mix with spices.
  3. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes until golden and crispy.

More of a crouton person? Make these homemade sourdough croutons instead of the chickpeas! Or do both for all the crunchy goodness in this salad.

Does this salad store well?

One thing I LOVE about this salad (and all kale salads) is that it keeps super well, even and especially after it’s been dressed, because kale doesn’t get soggy like regular lettuce does. Just store any salad leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days…if it lasts that long! That also makes this kale chickpea salad perfect for meal prepping.

You can keep the chickpeas separate if you want to keep them crunchy. They’ll soften slightly if mixed in with the kale and dressing, but not in a bad way!

Serve this salad with…

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Massaged Kale Chickpea Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 5 reviews
  • Author: Rachel Conners
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 24 servings 1x
  • Category: Salad
  • Cuisine: Healthy
  • Diet: Vegan


This Massaged Kale Chickpea Salad is my new favorite kale salad! Coated in a lemon vinaigrette with spiced roasted chickpeas and chopped pistachios, it’s perfect as a side salad or loaded up with your favorite protein and other add-ins for a main dish salad. Naturally vegan & gluten-free.



For the salad

  • 2 medium bunches lacinato kale, sometimes called dino kale; washed, destemmed, and thinly sliced
  • ½ cup roasted salted pistachios, finely chopped
  • 1 avocado, diced

For the chickpeas

  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas, can be canned or cooked fresh, if using canned I’d just make the whole can and have extra to snack on
  • 2 tablespoons olive or avocado oil
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt & pepper

For the lemon vinaigrette

  • ¼ cup lemon juice, plus the zest of one lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, grated or minced
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard or 1 tablespoon tahini
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast or parmesan
  • Salt & pepper, to taste


For the salad

  1. Add your rinsed and finely chopped kale to a salad bowl. Drizzle with about half of the dressing, and use your hands to massage the kale well for a few minutes. It should soften a lot, and when tasted, it shouldn’t be too fibrous or firm. Let sit while you prepare the rest of the salad – it will continue to soften from the salt and lemon juice in the dressing.
  2. Add the pistachios, diced avocado, and roasted chickpeas to the salad. Toss to combine and serve immediately. Garnish with parmesan (vegan or not depending on your dietary habits), if desired.
  3. Serve as is as a side salad or a main salad. You can also add your favorite protein to bulk it up further, or add roasted vegetables – I love adding roasted potatoes or roasted broccoli to this salad!

For the chickpeas

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Drain, rinse and dry off the chickpeas on a paper towel. Transfer to a baking sheet.
  2. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with the spices. Mix until coated, and then bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until golden and crispy.

For the lemon vinaigrette

  1. In a small bowl or jar, combine the lemon juice and zest, grated garlic, and tahini or dijon. Blend or whisk to emulsify.
  2. Slowly stream in the olive oil, whisking the whole time, to emulsify it into the lemon juice mixture. If using a jar, you can also just close the lid and shake well to emulsify. It should thicken slightly. Add the nutritional yeast or parmesan, salt & pepper, and any additional seasonings. Taste and adjust as needed before using.

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