Kale, Apple and Pancetta Salad

kale-apple-pancetta-salad

Made with shredded kale, radicchio, crisp pancetta, tart apples, pecans and a zingy maple vinaigrette, this beautiful fall salad touches all your taste sensations. It’s wildly addictive — even my husband, who is not much of a salad guy, cannot get enough of it.

To begin, cook the pancetta, which is simply Italian bacon. Instead of being smoked like American bacon, pancetta is cured with salt and spices and then dried. You can find it in the deli at most supermarkets and sometimes precut and packaged in the refrigerated gourmet foods aisle. Combine it with the olive oil in a small pan and fry over medium heat until crisp.

Strain the oil and pancetta drippings into a bowl. This will be the base for your vinaigrette. Set the pancetta aside — it will be a delicious topping for your salad.

Next, remove the kale leaves from the tough stems.

Shred them with a sharp knife, along with the radicchio. Cut the apples into wide matchsticks, leaving the skin on.

Complete the vinaigrette by whisking in Champagne vinegar, maple syrup, salt and pepper.

Toss the vinaigrette with the vegetables and pecans.

This recipe was originally published on my column at Serious Eats. The inspiration came from a similar but more complicated recipe from Food & Wine. 

Kale, Apple and Pancetta Salad

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces pancetta, diced
  • 1/4 cup Champagne vinegar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 small head radicchio, shredded
  • 1 (8-ounce) bunch kale, stems discarded, leaves shredded
  • 2 tart-yet-sweet apples, such as Fuji or Honeycrisp, sliced into thin matchsticks
  • 3/4 cup pecans, toasted if desired

Instructions

  1. Combine the olive oil and pancetta in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until pancetta is golden and crispy. Strain the pan drippings into a small bowl and leave the crispy pancetta off to the side to cool. Add the Champagne vinegar, maple syrup, salt and pepper to the pan drippings and whisk well.
  2. Combine the radicchio, kale, apples and pecans in a large bowl. Toss while adding the dressing, little by little, until the salad is well dressed. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Garnish with crispy pancetta.

Reviews & Comments

  • Looks delicious. Any recommendations on a chicken dish that would pair with this?

    - Jen on October 8, 2014 Reply
  • This was delicious. I’ll exclude the pancetta next time- the salad was delicious without it!

    - Mo on June 26, 2014 Reply
  • Thank you so much for the recipe. I picked up my aunt Jeanie and stopped by Colandras bakery in Newark. Got a nice loaf of Pamella and some Ciabatta. We made the salad. It is so 5 star! Bless you.

    - Charlie on April 19, 2014 Reply
  • Delicious! I will be making this salad again and again. In the past two weeks I have tried three of your recipes and loved all of them! Keep them coming!

    - Marsha on February 26, 2014 Reply
  • I made this salad for my family and it was a big hit. I will definitely be making this again. Oh and since we aren’t big on pecans I substituted dry roasted sunflower seeds.

    - Wendy on January 23, 2014 Reply
  • Just wanted to add to the chorus….yummy beyond.belief! I don’t usually care for kale but this has made a believer out of me. Made me a star at a recent dinner party!

    - Cheryl on December 22, 2013 Reply
  • This has become one of my favorite recipes and a great choice for company. I decided to make this after picking apples at a local orchard and needing to use up some kale. Be sure to use real maple syrup and champagne vinegar – go buy some at a specialty market if you must. The dressing really stands out in this recipe so substitutions WILL change the final flavor.

    I didn’t think I liked radicchio but the combination of flavors here was just perfect. Definitely keeping this one in my recipe box.

    - Adrian on November 14, 2013 Reply
  • I look forward to trying this recipe because it sounds delicious plus it’s healthy for the most part. I really enjoy receiving your recipes in my in-box. The recipes are amazing and definitely a change of pace.
    Blessings!

    - Melissa on November 14, 2013 Reply
  • This was very delicious. I ended up only using one apple, maybe my apples were larger than the ones used here. I also used a SweeTango apple, which despite the silly name is one of my favorite apples. It’s a bit tarter than Honeycrisp. The only thing I would say is the dressing was a little too sweet for me, but I probably used too much anyway. This is definitely a recipe I will make again.

    - Chris on October 22, 2013 Reply
  • I loved this salad. I used my current favorite variety of Kale – Lacinato….and it worked perfectly!

    - Nicole on October 22, 2013 Reply
  • Hi Jenn, the salad looks beautiful and definitely bite-worthy. Trouble is I am vegetarian. Is there any substitute for the pancetta?

    - Ashita on July 21, 2013 Reply
  • Ohhh gorgeous! This looks divine!

    - Jamie @lifelovelemons on July 19, 2013 Reply
  • HI Jenn: I made this salad in the summer and it was delicious and healthy! So now wondering should I use granny smith apples or should I use honey crisp now that they are available.. xo

    - sandy on January 27, 2013 Reply
    • Hi Sandy! This salad needs a tart apple to offset the sweetness in the dressing — grannies are my favorite but honey crisp would also work. Just avoid using mild sweet apples like golden/red delicious or gala.

      - Jenn on January 27, 2013 Reply
  • Was so good, I couldn’t get enough!

    - Nicole on September 28, 2012 Reply
  • This looks delicious! I love anything made with kale and will be trying this recipe for sure!!

    - Tami on June 20, 2012 Reply
  • One of our favorite kale recipes. Super greens and super tasty!!

    - Amanda on June 20, 2012 Reply
  • Absolutely delicious! I’m definitely making this next time we have friends over! Thanks for the wonderful recipes :)

    - Kelly on March 4, 2012 Reply
  • I loved this recipe! Instead of the radicchio, I used Boston lettuce by accident, but it was fine with this. So pretty and so delicious. My dinner guests wanted the recipe, too.

    Even the leftovers were good several days out.

    Jennifer

    - Jennifer Smith on March 2, 2012 Reply
  • Looks beautiful and certainly will be a crowd pleaser. What protein would you serve as a main course?

    - Krista on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • Yummy! I’m always attracted to different textures and this one was delish! A colorful presentation always grabs me and when the flavor is as wonderful as the presentation, I’m sold! Love it!

    - debbie on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • Delicious salad full of texture. We love this crunchy salad with it’s sweet, tart and slightly bitter flavors mixed with the salty pancetta. Loaded with vitamins!

    - Amanda on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • Did you not use the shallot that’s pictured in the second photograph? Thanks.

    - Lee on February 12, 2012 Reply
    • Hi Lee, Good eye! The recipe started out with a shallot but I decided it had enough flavor without it, so I took it out. Sorry about that…I missed that one :)

      - Jenn on February 12, 2012 Reply
  • so delicious looking, so many vibrant colors. the pictures are gorgeous!

    - Lannie on February 10, 2012 Reply
  • Hi! I love your blog! Is there a substitute for the maple syrup? I am diabetic and can’t have any sugar. Do you think sugar free syrup would be a good substitute? Or is there something else that would work? Thanks!

    - Jaclyn on February 9, 2012 Reply
    • Thank you, Jaclyn! To be honest, I’ve never tried sugar free syrup but my guess is that it would work fine as a substitute.

      - Jenn on February 9, 2012 Reply
  • This was delicious! I used walnuts–forgot to get pecans–and fuji apples. Looking forward to having more of it tonight.

    - Swimmy on February 8, 2012 Reply
  • Yum!! That looks fantastic. I am not much of a red meat eater, but I love pancetta, go figure. Thanks for the recipe.

    - Laura Black on February 7, 2012 Reply
  • Looks exactly like a salad I recently fell in love with at Beauty & Essex in Manhattan. I am so excited to try this! The salad at B&E was made with apple cider vinagrette and had shaved goat cheese. Also the pecans were spicy/sweet.

    - Lori on February 7, 2012 Reply
  • Again, perfect timing as I’m learning new delicious vegetable dishes. Thank you again Jenn!

    - Niya Sisk on February 7, 2012 Reply
  • Looks SO GOOD! Must try for my next dinner party!

    - Meg at Peaches and Cake on February 7, 2012 Reply

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