Spanakopita Kale Salad

published May 7, 2023
Spanakopita Kale Salad Recipe

With briny feta crumbles, crunchy toasted walnuts, and zippy herbs, this chopped kale salad tastes just like spanakopita, the iconic Greek savory pie.

ServesServes 4 to 6

Makes1 salad

Prep25 minutes

Cook20 minutes

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Overhead photo of Spanakopita Kale Salad with ingredients around (pitas on plate, feta cheese, basil, walnuts)
Credit: Laura Rege

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I love a dish that puts a spotlight on herbs, treating them as the main ingredient rather than a garnish. This chopped salad takes inspiration from the assertive, herbaceous flavors of spanakopita, the iconic Greek savory pie that consists of crisp, rich phyllo pastry filled with earthy spinach, salty feta cheese, and lots of herbs like parsley and dill. I am by no means suggesting that this salad is as delicious as, or a replacement for, spanakopita — it is simply one path to a delicious bowl of greens, and a way to use a winning flavor combination in a new format.

In place of spinach, I like to use lacinato kale, as its sturdier texture can stand up to a good tossing. Those ribbons of kale become tender and silky as they marinate in the assertive dressing. Seasoned with briny feta crumbles, crunchy toasted walnuts, and zippy herbs including parsley, scallions, dill, and mint, this salad makes for a bright and bold lunch or side, a great accompaniment to just about any grilled protein, and even a tasty sandwich topping or pita filling. In addition, it’s an excellent make-ahead salad for a picnic or potluck, as kale maintains its texture well and only absorbs more flavor with time.

Credit: Laura Rege

If You’re Making Spanakopita Kale Salad, a Few Tips

  • Roast your walnuts low and slow. You may notice that I’ve opted to roast the nuts at a low temperature for a longer-than-usual amount of time. This method yields walnuts that are evenly toasted throughout. I love the flavor and texture of these crispy walnuts here, but any nut you love would work in their place. 
  • Pick up a block of feta cheese. If possible, avoid the dry, pre-crumbled feta from the store, which lacks the tang and flavor of a proper block of feta in brine.

Spanakopita Kale Salad Recipe

With briny feta crumbles, crunchy toasted walnuts, and zippy herbs, this chopped kale salad tastes just like spanakopita, the iconic Greek savory pie.

Prep time 25 minutes

Cook time 20 minutes

Makes 1 salad

Serves Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup

    walnuts

  • 1

    small clove garlic

  • 2 tablespoons

    red wine vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon

    honey

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    dried oregano

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/4 cup

    extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 pound

    flat-leaf or Lacinato kale

  • 1

    small bunch scallions

  • 1

    small bunch fresh parsley

  • 1/2

    medium bunch fresh dill

  • 6

    large sprigs fresh mint

  • 6 to 8 ounces

    feta cheese (not crumbled)

Instructions

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 300ºF. Place 3/4 cup walnuts on a baking sheet. Bake until fragrant and golden brown, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.

  2. Meanwhile, finely grate 1 small garlic clove into a large bowl. Add 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon honey, 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and several grinds of freshly ground black pepper. Whisk to combine. While whisking constantly, slowly pour in 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil and whisk until combined.

  3. Strip the leaves from 1 pound flat-leaf kale; discard the stems. Stack about 1/2 of the leaves and roll them up into a tight coil; cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide ribbons. Add to the dressing and repeat cutting the remaining leaves. Add to the dressing and toss thoroughly with your hands to coat, massaging the dressing into the kale for about 30 seconds; let sit to absorb the dressing while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

  4. Prepare the following, adding each to the salad as you complete it: Thinly slice 1 small bunch scallions (about 1/2 cup). Pick the leaves from 1 small bunch fresh parsley and finely chop (about 1/4 cup). Finely chop 1 cup fresh dill fronds and tender stems. Pick the leaves from 6 large fresh mint sprigs until you have 1/2 cup, then finely chop. Coarsely chop the walnuts. Cut 6 to 8 ounces feta cheese into 1/4-inch thick slabs.

  5. Toss with your hands to combine, letting the feta pieces crumble as you toss. Taste and season with more kosher salt or black pepper as needed. Let sit for at least 10 minutes to 1 hour before serving, as this salad will get more flavorful as it sits.

Recipe Notes

Substitutions: Curly kale can be substituted for the flat-leaf kale. Pistachios, pecans, or almonds can be substituted for the walnuts.

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.