Kale, Apple and Pancetta Salad


One of the things I love about writing my salad column at Serious Eats is that it keeps me from getting into a salad rut. After all, if I didn’t have the challenge of coming up with new salad recipes week after week, I might never have tried this combination of shredded kale, radicchio, crispy pancetta, tart apples and pecans in a zingy maple vinaigrette. It’s a beautiful fall or winter salad that touches all your taste sensations. Even my husband, who is not much of a salad guy, could not get enough of it.

Begin with 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.

Then top with the crispy pancetta and serve.


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

Serving Size: 4


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


  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 salad is well dressed. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Garnish with crispy pancetta.


Be sure your apples aren't too sour, especially if using Granny Smith. You need the sweetness to balance out the tart vinaigrette.