Easy Salad with Dino Kale, Cara Cara Orange, and Pepitas

Easy, breezy salad with kale, Cara Cara orange, and pepitas (pumpkin seeds) with a light dressing | mjskitchen.com


We’ve been making massaged kale salads for several years now, using whatever fruit is in season – peaches, mango, apples, oranges. All are very tasty, but our favorite is this salad made with dino kale, Cara Cara orange, and pepitas with a light dressing of olive oil, lemon juice and honey.  This salad is crunchy, tart, sweet, and citrusy, and it’s SO EASY to make…20 minutes or less.

It can be served with just about anything or alone as a meal.  We really like it with spicy foods, like red chile enchiladas, because the sweet citrus helps to dampen the burn.  It’s also a wonderful complement with grilled flank steak, smoked chicken or turkey, pork kabobs, and smoked beef tri-tip.  It’s also a nice salad to take to picnics and potlucks because the kale leaves hold up to the dressing for quite a while.

A Light Salad of Massaged Kale, Cara Cara Orange, and Pepitas

Easy, breezy salad with kale, Cara Cara orange, and pepitas (pumpkin seeds) with a light dressing #kale #salad #CaraCara @mjskitchen


Dino Kale, Cara Cara and Toasted Pepitas - Ingredients for a healthy and easy salad
Print or Save Recipe
Dino Kale, Cara Cara Orange, and Pepitas Salad (Recipe)
20 mins
Total Time
20 mins
Another version of the infamous massaged kale salad.

"*" See Kitchen Notes for more information or links to special ingredients.

Course: Salad, Side Dish
Yields: 4 servings
Recipe Author: MJ of MJ's Kitchen
There are NO exact amounts for this recipe. You get a sweeter salad by adding a second orange or a little more honey. The amount of salt, of course, is always to taste, and the amount of olive oil is just enough to coat the leaves. The amount of lemon is also to taste. Sometimes I do add a bit more depending on the amount of kale and its bitterness. The amounts before I consider the "minimum" amounts.
  • 1 bunch Dino, Tuscan kale, stems removed, leaves chopped*
  • 1 Cara Cara Oranges*, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
  • 3 Tbsp. pepitas (pumpkin seeds), lightly toasted*
  • ~ 2 Tbsp. Quality Extra Virgin Oil Olive* (EVOO)
  • juice from ¼ lemon
  • Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp. honey or to taste
  1. Toast the pepitas* and set aside.

  2. Cut up the orange.
  3. Chop the kale leaves and transfer to a large bowl.
  4. Drizzle 1 - 2 Tbsp. EVOO over the leaves.
  5. Squeeze the juice from the lemon over the leaves.
  6. Using both hands, "massage" the kale, squeezing and crunching the leaves until they are broken down and somewhat wilted. This makes them more tender and palatable.

  7. Drizzle the honey over the leaves and sprinkle with a little sea salt. Using salad tossers, toss to combine and coat leaves with the honey and to distribute the salt. Taste for balance.
  8. Add the Cara Cara and the toasted pepitas. Toss to combine.
  9. Serve chill or a room temperature.
  10. If you have leftovers, this salad does keep well in the refrigerator overnight.
Kitchen Notes

How To Toast Pumpkin Seeds


Type of Kale – Dino kale also goes by the names Tuscan Kale, Lacinato kale, black kale, or cavolo nero and is the best type of kale to use in massaged kale salads IMO.  It’s a very sturdy kale, thick, crunchy, and flavorful.  The leaves strip off the stems easily and can be cut into whatever size pieces you want leaving minimal tiny pieces that you get from other kale types, like curly kale.


Prepping the kaleTo remove the leaves from the stem, grab the bottom of the stem with one hand, and, with the other hand, grab the leaves at the base and pull up the stem.  The leaf should separate from the stem easily.  Discard the stem and continue stripping the leaves from the rest of the bunch.  To cut the leaves cut the leaves in half vertically down the center seam.  Cut the leaves horizontally into narrow strips (about ¼ – ½ inch wide).


Type of Citrus – Cara Cara is our favorite citrus so I use it as much as possible when in season.  When not in season, I’ll substitute tangerines, satsuma, or cuties.  You want a very flavorful, sweet orange to counter the bitterness of the raw kale. A mix of citrus also works, like tangerines, grapefruit, and orange.


EVOO – Use your favorite!  Don’t use a cheap oil for this salad.  You want to taste the olive oil.  A Blood orange infused olive oil is wonderful with this salad if you can find it.



I’m not sure if you need another reason to eat kale other than enjoying this tasty salad, but just in case here are “26 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Kale“.


Easy, breezy salad with kale, Cara Cara orange, and pepitas (pumpkin seeds) with a light dressing | mjskitchen.com


If you enjoyed this Kale, Cara Cara Orange, and Pepitas salad remember that you can substitute the Cara Cara orange with with just about any seasonal fruit or, you could make it more of meal.  In place of fruit, substitute black beans or Roasted Sweet Potatoes.



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45 Responses to “Easy Salad with Dino Kale, Cara Cara Orange, and Pepitas”

  1. Anne@ASaladForAllSeasons March 9, 2017 at 8:55 am #

    I love everything about this salad, MJ! Especially those cara cara oranges!

    • mj March 11, 2017 at 10:37 am #

      Thanks Anne! Another salad to add to your wonderful collection of salads!

  2. Anna @ shenANNAgans February 17, 2017 at 1:51 am #

    I adore this salad MJ, I am still a loyal lover of kale and will use it wherever I can. I have found tho, that since moving to the tropics, it is harder to find. Le sigh. When i do get my hands on some Ill be giving this beautiful salad a go.

    • mj February 21, 2017 at 8:50 am #

      Thanks Anna! I would imagine that kale is hard to find in the tropics. It is a cool weather crop.

  3. April J Harris February 16, 2017 at 8:53 am #

    What a delicious way to enjoy kale, MJ. Your salad looks so fresh and delicious. Pinning. Thank you for sharing with us at Hearth and Soul.

    • mj February 21, 2017 at 8:46 am #

      Thank YOU April! All of your sharing and your blog hop is appreciated!

  4. Sissi February 16, 2017 at 6:43 am #

    I love seeing such beautiful sunny meals in winter (and especially at the end of winter when I’m really fed up with cold weather, warm clothes, etc….). First poppy seeds, now pumpkin seeds… I love the way you add crunch to your salads! The only thing I add to change the texture are walnuts. They seem so boring now…

    • mj February 20, 2017 at 9:16 pm #

      Thanks so much Sissi! Having bright and colorful meals in the winter is a great way to get rid of the winter blues. 🙂 And yes, I love adding toasted seeds and nuts of all kinds to my salads. They add such a nice crunch, which I find necessary with the standard salad ingredients.

  5. Helene D'Souza February 14, 2017 at 1:40 am #

    Oh yes your salad looks like something to serve with a spicy curry and rice. I like sweetish salads with spicy food. We don;t get kale here though. Maybe I can use something else instead.

    • mj February 14, 2017 at 8:57 pm #

      This salad would be fabulous with a spicy curry and rice! You don’t get kale? You could probably use arugula, just don’t massage it. It would provide the tartness/bitterness that one finds in this kale.

  6. Peachy @ The Peach Kitchen February 13, 2017 at 3:33 pm #

    I love oranges in salads! This looks wonderful.

    • mj February 14, 2017 at 8:55 pm #

      Thanks Peachy!

  7. Katerina February 13, 2017 at 1:39 pm #

    Exactly my type of salad! Honey is an ingredient I use very often in dressings! I love the colors too! Pinned!

    • mj February 14, 2017 at 8:55 pm #

      Thanks Katerina! Yep, honey add just the right type of sweetness needed in a salad.

  8. Carol at Wild Goose Mama February 11, 2017 at 3:34 pm #

    First off—-the presentation is AWESOME. The color is still zinging in my mind
    even though I can’t see the picture itself while I am typing this. I don’t think anyone could resist at least trying this salad just by looking at it.

    I love fruit and greens mixed together. I find in ‘real’ life that is not done as a rule. Of course I am excluding food bloggers ‘real’ lives. Ha! Even in restaurants that salad
    the conventional side salad is just that.

    As a compliment to spicy food—perfect. I honestly think a standard Tex Mex restaurant would put itself ahead of the crowd if they served a salad just as this
    with their main dishes.

    • mj February 12, 2017 at 4:52 pm #

      Thank you so much Carol for your comments! Totally agree how restaurants leave salads lacking by not adding fruit. Fruit really is a great complement to greens, especially in the raw form.

  9. Liz February 10, 2017 at 3:02 pm #

    Boy, this sounds perfect! It’s been way too long since I’ve made a massaged kale salad—and I think I have some blood orange olive oil in my pantry!

    • mj February 12, 2017 at 4:50 pm #

      OH…lucky you. I love blood orange OO. Hope you try it with this salad.

  10. Yi February 10, 2017 at 12:41 pm #

    I have to admin that I have not had the orange/kale combo but since I loved my kale apple salad and make it regularly I’d bet this tastes as amazing as it looks. Thanks for sharing. Great recipe.

  11. Vicki Bensinger February 9, 2017 at 6:55 am #

    Such a healthy salad and beautiful! Simply and perfect!!!

    • mj February 10, 2017 at 9:25 am #

      Thank you Vicki!

  12. Raymund February 8, 2017 at 11:27 am #

    Orange and Kale such a unique combination, never had I tried or seen something like this before. Brilliant!

    • mj February 8, 2017 at 5:36 pm #

      Thank you so much Raymund!

  13. Hester @ Alchemy in the Kitchen February 8, 2017 at 10:10 am #

    Hi MJ, There is a salad shortage in Europe at the moment (well, out-of-season salad anyway) due to weather conditions over the winter. However, your salad is bang on season and a visual delight – this appeals much more than a bowl of out-of-season lettuce any day.

    • mj February 8, 2017 at 5:36 pm #

      Thanks so much Hester! Even here, the heavier greens like kale are more appealing than winter lettuce. Hope you get to enjoy this.

  14. Adina February 8, 2017 at 12:55 am #

    What a happy looking salad! I like salads with oranges so much, I should make one today…

    • mj February 8, 2017 at 5:35 pm #

      Love your descriptions and it’s right on the mark. 🙂 Thanks Adina!

  15. Abbe@This is How I Cook February 7, 2017 at 9:16 pm #

    What a gorgeous salad! I’m with you when it comes to flavored oils. Luckily we have a great store here where I happily splurge on such things. I am sure they must have blood orange and this is a perfect way to use it!

    • mj February 8, 2017 at 5:33 pm #

      Thanks Abbe! Aren’t those specialty stores fantastic?! I love going in and tasting the various flavors. Making a decision is the hard part. 🙂

  16. Bam's Kitchen February 7, 2017 at 4:08 pm #

    Love fruit in with kale salads and now with the oranges and citrus in full season a great choice. Love that light and lovely dressing. Take Care

    • mj February 7, 2017 at 8:52 pm #

      Thanks so much Bobbi!

  17. swathi February 7, 2017 at 1:03 pm #

    This orange and kale salad with Pepita is delicious and colorful, love to taste this one MJ. I am going to try it. for sure.

    • mj February 7, 2017 at 8:51 pm #

      Thanks so much Swathi! Hope you enjoy it!

  18. Nads February 7, 2017 at 10:04 am #

    Wilted kale salad, as you know, is one of my favorite salads! I’m sure this variation is delicious. I’ve made it with mango and peaches but haven’t done oranges yet. Sounds great. Will definitely give it a try.

    • mj February 7, 2017 at 8:51 pm #

      I do know you like wilted salads and I know you’ve had one similar to this. I think you guys would really enjoy the orange in it. It really brightens up the flavors. Thanks Darlin!

  19. John/Kitchen Riffs February 7, 2017 at 9:22 am #

    I like recipes without exact amounts — it’s the way I most like to cook. And speaking of like, wow! This salad looks terrific. So full of seasonal flavor, and so healthy. And I’ll bet the flavor is amazing. Winner! Really nice — thanks.

    • mj February 7, 2017 at 8:50 pm #

      Thanks John! Creating recipes with exact amounts is hard! I never measured anything until I started blogging 6 years ago. There are still recipes like this salad that it’s just impossible to measure. Glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

  20. Deb|EastofEdenCooking February 7, 2017 at 8:40 am #

    Everything citrus is my winter mantra! This easy to prepare salad is a scrumptious antidote to the gray of winter. Cara Cara oranges are packed with so much flavor, they are a wonderful addition to this wonderful recipe.

    • mj February 7, 2017 at 8:48 pm #

      Thanks so much Deb! I can tell that you have enjoyed the flavor of Cara Caras as well. They are SO GOOD!

  21. Judy Purcell February 7, 2017 at 6:27 am #

    Oh I agree! Citrus goes so well with kale and it’s the idea winter salad, especially when trying to eat seasonally. Beautiful. 🙂

    • mj February 7, 2017 at 8:47 pm #

      Thanks Judy!

  22. Angie@Angie's Recipes February 6, 2017 at 10:41 pm #

    What a beautiful winter salad! i haven’t seen Dino kale over here…our tiny farmer market just has ONE veggie stall…sighs..

    • mj February 7, 2017 at 8:47 pm #

      Thanks Angie! If you ever do see Dina Kale, buy it! It’s my favorite! A couple of years ago I grew and plan to grow it again this year. It handles hot and cold weather better than most kales.

  23. Kelly Mulcair February 6, 2017 at 10:21 pm #

    Such a pretty salad MJ, it’s lifting my spirits just looking at it – the cara cara and the orange plate beneath radiating sunshine. It always amazes me how the simplest combinations of flavour can produce the best results – the citrus and honey has my mouth watering. And let me also say that your kale looks massaged to perfection 😉 – that colour! (+ the highlighties) Gorg.

    • mj February 7, 2017 at 8:46 pm #

      Thank you so much Kelly! It is a lovely salad, isn’t it? Yes, simple, good ingredients don’t need much. Cara Cara are my favorite winter ingredient. I love them for their color, their taste and the way they complement so many dishes.

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