Chicken Kale Farro Salad

After that gut busting grilled cheese on Friday, here’s some healthy and delicious moderation.  I have to say this is my preferred style of eating – not all salad — all the time, but a balancing act with a constant supply of wholesome foods and a few indulgences thrown in for good measure.  Chicken Kale Farro Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette  has a ton of flavor and it’s good for you too!



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ingredients for the salad and the cooked farro in a pot.

Ingredients in Chicken Kale Farro Salad

  • Farro
  • Kale
  • Chicken (leftover or rotisserie is fine)
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Plum Tomatoes
  • Fresh Mozzarella
  • Kalamata Olives
  • Cucumber

What makes this chicken kale farro salad so inviting are the little treats you find along the way.  A nugget of fresh mozzarella, a briny bite of kalamata olive and chewy hearty bits of farro.  A satisfying blend of flavors and textures tossed into one bowl.


Why People Think They Don’t Like Kale…

Many people avoid kale, saying it’s too fibrous and hard to eat — which reminds me of  a thing my Mom used to tell me I was a kid.  I’d save my money to buy a pack of Bubble Yum bubble gum — you remember those giant wads, don’t you?  I’d happily shove a piece of that over-sized gum into my mouth — chew, slurp and attempt to break it down into something I could blow a bubble with  She’d always say,  “You look like a cow chewing its cud.”  Ouch!!!  But she was right. 

That’s why many people avoid kale — it’s not tender and light… it takes a bit of work. But here’s how to do it with your hands, instead of your jaws.


a series of images showing how to massage and finely chop the kale.

Massaging and Mincing Kale

The key to tender kale is massaging and mincing.  

  1. With your hands you literally rub and massage the kale aggressively for 1-2 minutes to break down the fibers — it makes the kale soft and very fragrant.  
  2. When the kale is soft and smells like grass,  bunch up as much kale and you can into a tight ball and use a very sharp knife to finely chop it.  This will give you a tender kale farro salad. Promise.


slicing leftover chicken on a cutting board.

Dietary Swaps

Meat Proteins:

In this salad I used about two cups of leftover chicken but you can also use rotisserie chicken or for a more indulgent bent — fried chicken tenders from the Deli. No judgement here.

Other Meat Proteins: 

  • Pork
  • Lamb
  • Beef
  • Shrimp 

For Vegetarian:

Swap out the meat for garbanzo beans or maybe some grilled tofu.  

For Vegan:

Eliminate the mozzarella and maybe toss in some toasted nuts.


whisking up the balsamic vinaigrette in a small bowl.

Making The Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

This honey balsamic vinaigrette comes together quickly and it’s packed with flavor from the pungent garlic, creamy dijon, floral honey and tangy balsamic vinegar.  Simply add the ingredients to a small bowl and whisk to emulsify — that’s it.

Even with chopping the garlic it only takes about 5 minutes to put together and is way better than any store bought dressing.   WAAAYYYYY!!!!!!


tossing the salad with the honey balsamic vinaigrette.

Meal Prep Staying Power

The ingredients in this salad can hold up for a few days in the fridge without going limp, so it’s perfect for make-ahead lunches during the week, provided you have a refrigerator at work or a freezer pack in your lunchbox to keep things cool.   I have a feeling this will be in our regular work week rotation!  Enjoy!


serving the chicken, kale and farro salad on a plate.

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Print Pin
5 from 1 vote

Chicken Kale Farro Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

This is no ordinary recipe for kale salad! Chicken Kale Farro Salad with homemade Honey Balsamic is a great healthy brown-bag lunch!
Author: Lisa Lotts
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Keyword baked chicken, farro, kale, mozzarella
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 3



  • ¾ cup farro
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4-5 kale leaves, tough stems removed
  • 1 chicken breast leftover cooked, sliced or cut into cubes
  • 1 bell pepper diced
  • 2 plum tomatoes seeded and diced
  • ¾ cup cucumber sliced, I used baby English cucumbers from Costco
  • 1 cup fresh mozzarella packed in water, cubed
  • ½ cup kalamata olives sliced


  • ¾ teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 large clove garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper


  • Fill a medium pot halfway with water and heat to boiling. Add salt and then stir in the farro. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook the farro until tender, about 20-25 minutes. Drain the farro and let cool to room temperature.
  • Meanwhile, place the kale leaves on a cutting board and massage them firmly with your hands, kneading the leaves until they smell fresh and grassy. Ball the kale into a tight ball and thinly slice the kale with a sharp knife. Transfer kale to a large bowl. Add the bell pepper, tomatoes, cucumber, mozzarella, kalamata olives and set aside.
  • In a small bowl combine the dijon mustard, minced garlic, honey, balsamic, olive oil, kosher salt and pepper. Whisk to emulsify.
  • Add the cooled farro and the dressing to the salad and toss to combine completely. If you're serving the chicken sliced -- fan it out over the top of the salad and serve. If you've diced the chicken add it to the salad and toss to coat with dressing.


Calories: 561kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 53mg | Sodium: 1456mg | Potassium: 907mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 9545IU | Vitamin C: 149mg | Calcium: 338mg | Iron: 3.2mg

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chicken kale farro salad with honey balsamic vinaigrette being served.

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    1. Believe it or not, it was leftover from the previous night — my husband is the grill-master!

  1. Lynn | The Road to Honey says:

    Ha! Ha! You are too funny Lisa. And the imagery I got in my head imagining everyone chewing on their kale cud. . .I sure hope I can sleep tonight.

    Anywhoooo, it sounds like we have a similar mantra to eating. I prefer healthy with indulgence thrown in every now and then. And this salad. . .such the ideal meal for the ordinary every day. It’s such a well rounded dish and full of all my favorite ingredients.

    1. It does paint a picture, doesn’t it? LOL! Despite a 5 day a week gym workout, I have to moderate my eating – and salads like this keep me healthy and full.

  2. This is a nice way to incorporate good nutrition and good tasting food in one meal. Love!

  3. That’s exactly how I manage my diet. I can enjoy some cheat meal from time to time and then I balance it out with something healthy. This salad looks perfect!

    1. Everything in moderation — including moderation.

  4. Yup, kale could give you jaw ache if you don’t treat it right! Massage and chop all the way, although I do like it baked until really crisp. This is a plateful of colour and looks so invitingly healthy to eat.

    1. You’ve go that right JoJo! I love crispy kale too – haven’t made it in a while, now that you’ve reminded me, I guess I’ll have to.

  5. Oh man, I would kill to get my hands on ingredients like that at the moment, it is rare to find anything but seasonal veg or ‘exotics’ here in Hungary and I am now over winter and really looking forward to spring! Lovely looking colourful dish.

    1. I’ve never visited Hungary, but would love to go. Here in the tropics, our A/C runs pretty much 24/7.

  6. I love how finely you chop your kale, this is key to a good kale salad! It’s so colorful too and looks amazingly full of delicious flavors!

    1. I went to a restaurant and ordered a kale salad — they didn’t massage it and the leaves weren’t cut fine — I couldn’t get through it — it was so tough. I learned my lesson.

  7. Katrin Nuernberger says:

    5 stars
    I’ve done quite a bit of kale massaging already this winter – we are all crazy about it here. Thanks for your recipe. It sounds delicious!

  8. What lovely flavors! I must try!

  9. Celebrating Sweets says:

    I love your kale tips. When prepared properly kale is so tasty. This is a gorgeous salad, I love all those flavors!

    1. Thank you – I never used to eat kale because it was so tough — now that I know how to, I like it better than lettuce.

  10. This gorgeous salad is calling my name, it’s just how I love to eat in January ~ healthy but also sooooo satisfying…love how you describe it!