Pasta Salad with Kale, Cheddar, Apples & Candied Pecans

This late summer pasta salad highlights just how awesome our local farmers market is right now. Chopped kale, local sharp cheddar, early apples, perfectly ripe cherry tomatoes and to add a touch of sweetness and crunch, candied pecans.

Pasta Salad with Kale, Cheddar, Apple and Candied Pecans |

This is hands down my favorite time of year for eating. August and September are peak months for finding the goods at my local farmers market. For the past 3 Wednesdays, I’ve come home with what I think is more produce than we can eat in one week and yet we somehow finish it all and in fact, I was short tomatoes this past week. I was craving a caprese salad last night but I’d use up all the fresh tomatoes for pasta salad and BLT’s! I guess I need to buy a few more this week!

Pasta Salad with Kale, Cheddar, Apple and Candied Pecans |

Week before last, I played in a tennis tournament down in Salt Lake where it was a balmy 103 degrees. Oh mercy it was hot. I played singles matches Thursday, Friday and Saturday and you know what? Playing three days in a row crushed me. It’s no lie when I tell you I did absolutely NOTHING on Sunday. I read, drank coffee in bed, read some more, took a nap, had a snack and then watched tv on the couch until bed time. Funny how on Saturday I felt like a rockstar (I won all my matches!) and less than 24 hours when I woke up on Sunday I felt like I was living in a body that had recently been run over by a bus. Holy moly I was worked.

Pasta Salad with Kale, Cheddar, Apple and Candied Pecans |

On Saturday, I finished my match earlier than the rest of my team so got to sit for a bit and watch everyone else play. The league provided snacks and a light lunch for the players. I don’t know if it’s because I was so hungry when I finished playing or the combination of ingredients but I fell in love with the pasta salad they served. As I nibbled and watched tennis, I knew I would recreate the salad at home. The only changes I made from the original was replacing diced sharp cheddar for the shredded mozzarella (too bland) and used cherry tomatoes (what I had on hand) instead of a larger tomato diced. The candied pecans, chopped apple and kale stayed the same as did the simply balsamic vinaigrette.

So. Damn. Good.

Pasta Salad with Kale, Cheddar, Apple and Candied Pecans |

The pasta salad holds up well for a day or two but not much longer than that so eat up, people! Thanks for reading and have a fantastic week! xo, Kelley


Pasta Salad with Kale, Cheddar, Apples & Candied Pecans



  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

pasta salad:

  • 1 lb penne pasta
  • 2 cups tightly packed, finely shredded kale (about 1 bunch)
  • 6 oz sharp white cheddar, coarsely chopped
  • 2 small or 1 large apple, diced
  • 1 cup halved (or quartered) cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped candied pecans


  1. Cook penne to manufacturers instructions, taking care to liberally salt the cooking water!
  2. When pasta is done, drain and put into a large bowl to cool slightly.
  3. Meanwhile, make dressing by putting all ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake until combined; set aside.
  4. To the slightly cooled pasta add chopped kale, cheddar, diced apple and cherry tomatoes. Toss everything with 3/4 of the dressing. At this point, cover and refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours.
  5. If you feel like the salad needs more dressing, use more! Otherwise keep it for another use. Just before serving, top with candied pecans and serve.