A few weeks ago I wrote about a Mexican tortilla pizza that had the most delicious avocado dressing. The dressing really stole the show, and I realized that it deserved a bit more attention. What better way to showcase it than with a Mexican kale salad?
I’ve written before about my fickle feelings towards kale. Sometimes I quite enjoy it, but at other times I feel like a dinosaur chomping on tough leaves. I think kale needs a lot of TLC before it can be edible. But my feelings have changed since discovering baby kale. Have you tried it before? It is gentler in texture than other kinds of kale, so you don’t have to do all that awkward, messy massaging beforehand. I still like to pick through baby kale and remove any of the longer, thicker stems, but it certainly involves less legwork than its tougher cousins.
The thing I like about baby kale is that it’s still a sturdy lettuce. It can hold its own against stronger flavors and textures, and therefore pairs nicely with this extremely thick and creamy dressing. If you tried to make this salad with spinach, the leaves break down into a gloppy mess.
This salad is incredibly easy, flavorful and healthy. It’s got black beans, quinoa and pumpkin seeds for plenty of protein, red pepper for some sweetness and Vitamin C, and toasted tortilla strips for some nice crunch. The avocado dressing is bursting with flavor from cilantro, lime juice and garlic, and despite its creaminess, it’s actually vegan (I was about to add yogurt to it, but then realized that it was completely unnecessary). Everything comes together to form the perfect meatless meal.
A few notes on the dressing: I highly recommend toasting the garlic clove before adding it to the dressing. Raw garlic is simply too harsh of a taste in the dressing, and toasting it will really help mellow the flavor. Also, feel free to improvise a bit with the dressing until you reach a level of thickness that you want. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water or a bit more lime juice to thin it out.
- ½ of a flour tortilla, cut into thin bite-size strips
- About 4 cups baby kale, washed and with long stems removed
- ½ red bell pepper, cut into bite-size pieces
- ½ can cooked black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- ¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds
- For the dressing:
- 1 clove garlic, with the skin still on
- ½ avocado
- About ¼ cup fresh cilantro
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, depending on how much of a lime flavor you want
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of cayenne (optional)
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Add the tortilla strips to a non-stick baking sheet, and cook for about 8 minutes or until the strips are lightly browned and crisp.
- In the meantime, assemble the salad ingredients in a large bowl.
- For the dressing: toast the garlic clove (make sure the skin is still on) in a skillet, rotating on all of its sides every couple of minutes. Once the garlic clove is lightly browned, remove from heat. Peel and add to a food processor. Add the remaining dressing ingredients and blend until smooth. If you're looking for a runnier dressing, add 1-2 tablespoons of water to thin it out.
- Add the tortilla strips and then the dressing, about one tablespoon at a time. A little goes a long way, so you likely will have some leftover dressing. (The dressing will keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator.)
- Toss well and serve immediately.