When you eat this Chopped Mexican Kale Salad, you definitely don't feel like you're just eating a kale salad! It's FILLED with fresh Mexican flavor, colors, and textures, is super-satisfying, and perfect for a light summer meal.
What do you eat when you are getting ready for 2 weeks of travel when you plan to eat ALL. THE. THINGS? Salad. I know. If you're a foodie like me, it may sound boring/depressing/bland. BUT. This Chopped Mexican Kale salad is none of those things! I crave this salad so often that I pretty much have to have the ingredients stocked at all times. And in addition to just tasting so yummy and being so satisfying, I just feel GOOD when I eat it. Good as in energized, motivated, happy - all the good vibes!
This salad is hearty and flavorful enough to handle big appetites (like mine) and is kind of therapeutic to make. Why you ask? Well, this salad involves a massage. Nope, not for you (although that would be nice), but for the KALE! Keep reading if you are intrigued...
How to Make a Great Kale Salad
Want to know the difference between an OK kale salad and a GREAT kale salad? It all lies in the massage. Yep. You read that right. If kale is going to taste good and be tender enough to not make us feel like we are eating rabbit food, you need to massage it. When you rub citrus, oil, and spices into kale, it tenderizes and flavors the leaves. This makes raw kale MUCH more palatable to eat and can sometimes turn a kale hater into a kale lover. I've seen it happen about 85% of the time - some people just loathe kale though and no amount of massaging will remedy the situation. And I can accept that - but at least try this technique and tell me what you think!
In this Chopped Mexican Kale Salad, we are rubbing lime juice, olive oil, and the always appropriate in salads Chile Lime Seasoning from Trader Joe's. We are also throwing in a handful of shredded brussels sprouts because FIBER. This salad screams fiber and I am not mad about it. You can do the whole massaging action up to a full day before you'd like to eat the salad. And I bet it will taste even better than if you massaged the kale right before eating the salad. Kale likes to marinate!
Chopped Mexican Kale Salad Ingredients
- Kale - I use curly kale for this recipe, but you could also use lacinato kale. I find that my kale keeps for much longer when I wash it in a salad spinner, chop it, and then store it in the salad spinner in the fridge. Chop it into 1-inch pieces or smaller for the ultimate kale salad eating experience!
- Brussels Sprouts - this salad is a great option for using up a lot of brussels sprouts. I like to shred mine quickly in the food processor, but you could also grate them with a box grater or chop by hand. A lot of grocery stores these days are selling them pre-shredded, which is nice if you are in a hurry.
- Chicken - I like to use rotisserie chicken in this recipe to keep things fast and easy. But this recipe for the best weeknight roasted chicken breasts would be perfect in this salad too.
- Corn - fresh corn, canned corn, and frozen corn are all A-OK in this recipe! We jazz things up a bit by slightly charring the corn in a cast iron skillet to give it a summery grilled flavor.
- Tomatoes - cherry, grape, or Roma tomatoes are all delicious here. In the sprintime, my local Sam's Club stocks the most delicious on-the-vine grape tomatoes from Michigan, which is what I am using in the photos. They are phenomenal!
- Pepper Jack Cheese - because a good chopped salad needs some CHEESE, am I right? Love the extra flavor and hint of spiciness that pepper jack gives to this salad.
- Tortilla Chips - you know those tortilla chip crumbs that fill the bottom of the bag and are annoyingly too small to dip in salsa? This recipe was written for those chips.
- Creamy Avocado Ranch Dressing - recipe here. I'm putting this stuff on everything right now, y'all. Tostadas. Veggie sticks. It's SO good.
Modifications and Recipe Variations
As written, this recipe is gluten-free, low-carb, a good source of protein and a GREAT source of fiber, and appropriate for a wide variety of healthy eating patterns!
- Make it vegetarian: feel free to substitue tofu or tempeh for the chicken to make it vegetarian-friendly.
- Make it vegan: omit the chicken and cheese, and sub a nice cilantro lime vinaigrette for the avocado ranch.
- Substitue blackened mahi mahi, cod, or shrimp for the chicken if you have fresh seafood on hand.
- This salad is also delish with fajita meat, grilled flank steak, or pork carnitas!
Are you ready to try this Chopped Mexican Kale Salad? I’m so excited for you to try this recipe. Once you get the chance to make it, please let me know how it turns out for you! Leave a comment and rate the recipe below. This will help me with the creation of future recipes! I’d also love to feature your creation in my monthly newsletter, so you can upload a photo to Instagram or Twitter with the tag @sweetcayenne5 to be featured!
Chopped Mexican Kale Salad
- 4 cups kale, washed, ribs removed, and chopped into 1’’ pieces
- 1 cup brussels sprouts, washed, trimmed, and shredded
- 2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lime juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon Trader Joe’s Chili Lime Seasoning
- ½ cup sweet corn kernels (I used canned)
- 6 ounces cooked chicken breast, cut into ½’’ cubes
- ¾ cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 2 ounces Pepper Jack cheese, cubed into ¼’’ cubes
- ½ cup corn tortilla chips, crushed
- Avocado Ranch Dressing
- In a large bowl, add the kale and brussels sprouts. Sprinkle the lime juice, olive oil, and seasoning on top. Use clean hands to gently massage the juices and spices into the kale and sprouts for about 2-3 minutes. The mixture should reduce in volume by about ⅓. Set aside.
- Place a cast iron skillet on medium heat. Add a bit of oil to the bottom, followed by the corn. Cook the corn just to enough to char it a bit, about 4 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
- Top the kale and brussels sprouts mixture with the corn, chicken, tomatoes, cheese, and crushed tortilla chips. Drizzle about ¼-⅓ cup of Avocado Ranch along the sides of the bowl. Toss gently to combine, adding more dressing as needed until the ingredients are lightly and evenly coated. Serve immediately and enjoy!
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