Kale meets Chipotle’s Mexican Grill
If Chipotle’s Mexican Grill made a kale salad, I imagine this is what it would taste like. Chipotle’s, are you listening? Kale, massaged with olive oil until the leaves are supple and glossy, topped with all your favorite southwestern flavors, and tossed with a spicy honey vinaigrette. Add your favorite grilled meat, maybe a few tortilla chips, and you have a nutritious summer meal.
Kale can be stemmed (or would that be “de-stemmed”?, i.e., removing stems) and massaged the day before. Massage your kale. This is an important step. It will mean the difference between chewing your way through something that’s supposed to be good for you and truly enjoying a delicious green salad that you’ll want to make again. Get your (clean) hands in there and scrunch the leaves, drizzling a little olive oil over it as you go. (The amount of olive oil in the dressing recipe takes into account the oil used in the massaging). Keep at it and you will see those thick kale leaves transform into tender salad greens.
12 oz of kale may seem like a lot but it will lose a lot of volume after it’s massaged, and then again, after it’s dressed. (Yes, we’re still talking about kale). Any leftovers are good for at least another day or two.
Kale is the perfect green for a make-ahead/potluck salad. Prepare everything the night before and simply toss together before leaving the house. The salad stays bright and fresh. When you arrive, the salad is already dressed. No fuss, and no worries about wilted, soggy greens.
The chipotle vinaigrette is whipped up in a jiffy with an immersion blender. If you don’t have one, you might try a regular blender or simply use a whisk. (If using a whisk, press or finely mince your garlic and chipotle pepper).
Chipotle pepper in adobo sauce is a key ingredient, both for flavor and as an emulsifier, (keeping the oil and vinegar blended together). The peppers come in a small can and are typically stocked in the international/Latin isle of most large supermarkets. A little goes a long way. Store leftovers in the fridge or freezer (freeze small portions in an ice cube tray). And take a look at all the ways you can use chipotle peppers in adobo sauce to add heat and a smoky flavor to your southwestern/Mexican dishes.
This kale salad is a simple backdrop for your own southwestern creations. I’ve included a list of topping/side suggestions to get you started. You’ll see why this is one of my go-to salads.
SOUTHWESTERN KALE SALAD WITH BLACK BEANS, CORN, AVOCADO, AND CHIPOTLE HONEY VINAIGRETTE
1/4 c red wine vinegar (or 2 T red wine vinegar and 2 T lime juice)
3 – 4 T honey, to taste
1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
1/4 t sea salt (if using table salt, use a little less)
1/2-1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (mild heat), or more to taste
1 garlic clove
1/2 t dried oregano
2 c corn
1/4 c chopped red onion
1 can black beans
1 red bell pepper, diced (about 1 cup)
1 cucumber, diced
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro, chopped
1 avocado, cubed
12 oz kale
sea salt and olive oil for massaging kale
OPTIONAL TOPPING/SIDE SUGGESTIONS
grated cheddar, monterey jack, pepper jack
coconut lime rice
grilled meat (chicken, steak, shrimp), ground beef seasoned with taco seasoning
Stem and chop kale into bite sized pieces. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle a little salt over the greens. Massage until leaves are soft and glossy.
Whisk or blend together dressing ingredients. If using a whisk, press or finely mince garlic and chipotle pepper.
PREPARE BEAN MIXTURE
In a medium bowl, toss together corn, onion, beans, pepper, cucumber, and cilantro with the dressing.
MAKE THE SALAD
At least 20 minutes before serving, toss bean mixture with kale. Top with avocado right before serving. Serve with optional toppings as desired.