Hearty Kale Salad with Chipotle Pecan Pesto

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Scooping chipotle pecan pesto from a bowl onto a kale salad

This is not your average kale salad. Seriously, friends. It’s so good! Not only is this salad perfect for fall with its hearty, seasonal veggies and gorgeous autumnal colors, but it’s absurdly flavorful and nutritious to boot!

We could not believe how much we loved the bright, savory, sweet, and smoky qualities of this salad, and it’s safe to say it’s our new favorite way to pack in a ton of nourishing veggies. Plus, just 10 ingredients and minimal time required. Let us show you how it’s done! 

Kale, beet, sweet potato, chickpeas, chipotle pecan pesto, red onion, lemon, salt, and olive oil

How to Cut Kale

If you’ve ever had a kale salad and found it too tough to chew, we’re here to tell you kale doesn’t have to be that way!

The best way to cut kale for salads is to first remove the thick stem, then chop the leaves into bite-size pieces. For extra tender kale, you can massage it with a little lemon juice, olive oil, and/or maple syrup before adding your other salad ingredients.

Slicing kale on a cutting board

Components of This Hearty Kale Salad

When it comes to salads, we’re into the ultra-flavorful, keeps-you-feeling-full kind. So how does this salad do that?

  • Roasted root veggies for complex carbs and vitamins and minerals galore
  • Chickpeas for fiber and protein
  • Chipotle pecan pesto for BIG flavor!
  • Optional whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, or millet) for even more nourishment

Even without the grains, this salad gives you 15 grams of protein and 20 grams of fiber!

Pans of roasted root vegetables and chickpeas

We hope you LOVE this salad! It’s:

& SO delicious!

It’s the perfect entrée for fall and beyond! And it also works beautifully as a side paired with Lemon & Herb Roasted Chicken or Lemon Baked Salmon with Garlic Dill Sauce.

Bowl of kale with roasted vegetables and chipotle pecan pesto

More Hearty Fall Salad Recipes

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo @minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!

Bowls of quinoa and chipotle pecan pesto beside a hearty kale salad

Hearty Kale Salad with Chipotle Pecan Pesto

An incredibly satisfying and nourishing kale salad BURSTING with smoky and savory goodness. Just 10 ingredients required for this comforting and flavorful plant-based dish!
Author Minimalist Baker
Bowl of hearty kale salad with chipotle pecan pesto
4.94 from 16 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 2 (Entreé servings // or twice as many side servings)
Course Entrée, Side
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Vegan
Freezer Friendly No
Does it keep? 1-2 Days



  • 1 ½ cups chopped sweet potato, halved, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 cup chopped carrots, cut into baby-carrot-sized pieces
  • 1 cup chopped beets (or sub more sweet potato), halved, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1/2 medium red onion, skin removed, chopped into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 Tbsp avocado or olive oil
  • 1 healthy pinch each sea salt and black pepper


  • 1 (15-oz.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained and patted dry with a towel
  • 1 Tbsp avocado or olive oil
  • 1 healthy pinch each sea salt and black pepper


  • 5 cups loosely packed chopped kale (stalky stems removed // ~1 small bundle)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp maple syrup (optional)
  • 1 healthy pinch each sea salt and black pepper



  • If serving as an entreé with grains (optional), prepare at this time. Brown rice, quinoa, or millet would all work well.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (204 C) and position one rack near the top of the oven and another rack in the center of the oven. Also line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Add the chopped vegetables (sweet potato, carrots, beets, onion) to one of the prepared baking sheets. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss to coat.
  • To the other prepared baking sheet, add your rinsed and dried chickpeas and top with oil, salt, and pepper. Toss to combine.
  • Place the root vegetables on the center rack of the oven and the chickpeas on the top rack. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and slightly caramelized and the chickpeas are golden brown. Flip/toss near the 15-minute mark to ensure even cooking.
  • Meanwhile, add chopped kale to a large mixing bowl along with the lemon juice, maple syrup, and salt and pepper and massage with clean hands for 1-2 minutes to soften the kale. Set aside.
  • If you haven’t already prepared the chipotle pecan pesto, make it at this time.
  • Add the warm roasted vegetables to the kale mixture along with 1/4 cup chipotle pecan pesto (adjust amount if altering batch size) and toss to coat. Taste and adjust as needed, adding more dressing for sauciness, salt for overall flavor, or lemon juice for acidity. Serve warm or cold with grains of choice (optional). If not vegan, salad also pairs well with roasted salmon or chicken.
  • Best when fresh. Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1-2 days, preferably with the components stored separately. Not freezer friendly.



*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated without optional ingredients.

Nutrition (1 of 2 servings)

Serving: 1 entrée serving Calories: 661 Carbohydrates: 92.7 g Protein: 15.8 g Fat: 28.1 g Saturated Fat: 3.1 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 5.4 g Monounsaturated Fat: 16.7 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 669 mg Potassium: 1518 mg Fiber: 20.3 g Sugar: 28.4 g Vitamin A: 44000 IU Vitamin C: 67 mg Calcium: 302 mg Iron: 4.2 mg

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Reader Interactions

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My Rating:

  1. Christin says

    LOVE this salad! I made it for dinner tonight & it was phenomenal. I think the chipotle pecan pesto is essential & truly takes this recipe to the next level. Thank you so much for another delicious dinner!

  2. Lynette says

    This salad is delicious! I made the recipe as written, with the exception of no onions. Will be making this again and again!

  3. Tess says

    Delicious! I’ve made this recipe a couple times and it’s incredible each time. I cooked 1 cup of couscous and added it to the salad. I also added two cans of chickpeas, some dried cranberries and chopped pecans. It keeps very well in the fridge (though you should massage the kale day of). I’d definitely recommend this and / or serve it to a crowd

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Your modifications sound delicious, Tess! Thank you for the lovely review and for sharing your modifications! xo

  4. Katie Tkacz says

    This salad is to DIE FOR. So flavorful and fun. I served mine with warm basmati rice and tossed the extra pesto with some penne at the end of the week. Gonna do the same thing next week! A+

  5. Melanie says

    This is sooooo good! I love the sweet, spicy, and smoky flavor combination. I omitted the beets and added quinoa. I will definitely be making this again.

  6. Emily says

    This is so good! I meal prepped this salad and ate the veggies cold on top after the first day. They were awesome both warm and cold. I will be making this again!

  7. Stacia Cotter says

    I can’t wait to try this recipe! If I were to purchase something comparable to the pesto instead of making it, what could you recommend?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hmm, good question! It’s really quite unique and we can’t say we’ve come across anything similar in a store. The closest things would probably be romesco or sun-dried tomato pesto?

  8. Kayla says

    Dana, you have done it again *insert heart eye emoji*. I didn’t think kale salads got better than your Chickpea Kale Caesar Salad, and yet here we are! I feel so warm and fuzzy. And stuffed! And, my mom (whom I’ve been trying to encourage to eat healthy) loved it as well! Double win. Thank you for literally being 1 of 2 people who show me that being vegan is not only possible, but it can truly being amazing <3

    P.S. waiting for your next cookbook 👀 #youremyfav #yesijustusedahashtag

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Aw, you’re the sweetest, Kayla! We’re so glad you enjoy our recipes! Thank you for your kind words and lovely review! xoxo

  9. Rachel says

    This was really good! We could have used more kale, but we might have gotten a small bundle from the store. Definitely will be making this again in the future. A very satisfying weekday meal that comes together quickly.

  10. Emily M. says

    This was so, so good. The chipotle pecan pesto tastes almost like mole. I added some pears and pomegranate seeds to the salad and it was just fantastic. Thank you!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Woohoo! We’re so glad you enjoyed it, Emily! And love your additions! Thank you for sharing! xo

  11. Meredith says

    Loved everything about this except the chickpeas. They came out dried and chewy, I’d recommend crisping them up in a pan instead. I added about a cup of quinoa and used a half recipe of the chipotle pecan pesto. That made four decently sized entrées.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Meredith, so sorry to hear the chickpeas didn’t turn out right. It sounds like they might have gotten overbaked? Glad to hear you still enjoyed the salad overall!

  12. Laurie says

    I made this for dinner tonight. I really liked the mix of flavors! That “pesto” is super delicious, and brought it all together. My husband really loved it. Thanks so much!

  13. Tammi Modderman says

    Made this for dinner tonight!! It was so light and bright!! Shockingly the best salad I’ve made. I’m scouting your website for more delish dishes!!

  14. Heather says

    I’m a huge fan of this salad! I made it about a week ago and roasted extra veggies. So I’ve been able to throw it together quickly for lunch several times this week. Instead of the roasted chickpeas I added black beans to the subsequent versions and I actually prefer them. The components also make a great base for some variation: I’ve added roasted squash, fresh tomatoes, pepitas, and radish sprouts. The chipotle-pecan pesto was a great topper for some (unexpectedly bland) roasted pumpkin that I made as well. Thanks for the great recipe!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Love all your modifications and subs, Heather! And so glad you’re enjoying it! Thank you for sharing! xo

  15. Nicaela says

    This was delish! Love all the flavors – smokey, sweet, bright. We had this for dinner and it was very filling & satisfying. Thanks for a great recipe!

  16. Jennifer says

    This was so delicious! Nice and filling, creamy and flavorful, and pretty easy to prepare. I more or less followed the recipe for the salad and pesto but substituted some of the oil in both with aquafaba. I will definitely be making this again.

    Thank you!

  17. Katherine Mooneyham says

    I’m trying this today. In the instructions, it says put pven racks in the top and top center position. Then it says put veggies on the bottom rack, and chickpeas on the top center rack. This does not compute. Please clarify. Thanks!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Katherine, sorry for the confusion! By bottom rack, it means the lower of the two. We’ll give that another look and see if we can improve the clarity!

  18. Kim says

    This was so, SO good! My husband groaned as he saw me roasting tray after tray of veggies, but he took it all back after he’d tasted the end result! The textures worked great together and the sweet, spiciness of the pesto was a good contrast to the caramelised veggies and kale. We topped it with a couple of Trader Joes falafel. Will definitely make it again!

  19. Michelle says

    Excellent flavor profile! The pesto was packed with flavor and had just enough heat. We kept it vegan and it was very filling. I massaged the lemon and maple syrup into the kale about an hour before serving this and it had a great texture. I used lacinato kale. I added a sprinkle of quinoa to the top. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve tried a recipe of yours I didn’t like! My first was the blackbean plantain enchilada bake, and I’ve been hooked since! Thanks for another excellent meal I can feel good about feeding my family.

  20. Jessa says

    This is a keeper!! The super flavorful pesto is a great way to change up your salad flavor profile. Enjoyed this with quinoa and will have this in heavy rotation for sure!