Feta Fiesta Kale Salad with Avocado and Crispy Tortilla Strips

Hearty kale taco salad with feta, black beans, pepitas, avocado and tortilla strips, tossed in a spicy lime dressing - cookieandkate.com

When it comes to salads, I’ve come a long way. I used to be a super picky salad eater. In high school, every time I went to a chain restaurant with my friends, I would request a spinach salad (spinach only!) with ranch dressing on the side. This simple request was often met with skepticism in the kitchen and my salad would come back with more than just spinach. I’d keep sending it back until I got my spinach-only salad. (Belated apologies to the servers.)

jalapeno-lime dressing

I still appreciate spinach and ranch dressing, but my salads have become much more creative in the years since high school. I stopped adding meat to my salads a few years ago, at which point my salad bowl got bigger and the contents became even more colorful and diverse. These days, I could truly be content eating a salad at every meal. A great salad is a delightful way to get our daily dose of fresh produce.

chopped kale

I like my salads to have something crunchy, sweet, salty, creamy and citrusy. The combinations are endless, really. Quality feta and goat cheese are among my favorite salad components. They provide the requisite creamy and salty elements, as well as contribute a sophisticated tang that plays nicely with a wide variety of fresh vegetables and fruits. I especially love the combination of goat cheese with ripe strawberries, and feta with watermelon and Mexican flavors.

I chose to add feta to this taco-inspired kale salad. Kale salads just might be my favorite type of salad—the trick is to massage the kale before dressing the salad, which magically transforms raw kale from barely palatable to downright delicious. As an added bonus, dressed kale salads pack well for lunch, unlike salads made with more delicate greens. Lime, jalapeño and kale might seem like an untraditional pairing, but trust me, they are meant to be together!

cilantro and pepitas

Président’s Flavored Feta with Cranberries is particularly lovely with the New World flavors of avocado, beans and corn. An easy alternative would be to add Président’s regular crumbled feta along with a small handful of dried cranberries. I enjoyed the salad as my main course, along with a side of tortilla chips with homemade cherry tomato pico de gallo. I tossed some regular crumbled feta into the pico, which kicked it up a notch! This would be a great meal to serve at girls’ night or at a summer potluck.

Président asked me to let you know that if you’d like to enter to win $50 worth of your own Président cheese, visit ArtOfCheese.com! While you’re there, you also can download a coupon and enter the Pinterest sweepstakes, plus find more recipes (created by some awesome bloggers) and product information.

feta and crispy tortilla stripsHealthy kale salad with avocado and crispy tortilla strips - cookieandkate.comKale salad with avocado and crispy tortilla strips - cookieandkate.com

5.0 from 4 reviews
Feta Fiesta Kale Salad with Avocado and Crispy Tortilla Strips
Author: 
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
A hearty taco kale salad featuring feta, pepitas, crispy tortilla strips, avocado and cranberries, tossed in a jalapeño-lime dressing. This recipe yields four medium-sized salads.
Ingredients
Salad
  • 1 large bunch of kale (about 10 ounces)
  • 1 can (14 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup Président Flavored Feta with Cranberries (or ½ cup Président regular crumbled feta plus a handful of dried cranberries)
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • ¼ cup pepitas (also known as pumpkin seeds)
  • 3 corn tortillas (or a couple handfuls of crumbled tortilla chips)
Jalapeño-lime dressing
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 1 large lime)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped jalapeño (about 2 medium jalapeños), membranes and seeds removed
  • 1 teaspoon honey (or agave nectar)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ⅛ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
Instructions
  1. To make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients until emulsified.
  2. To prepare the kale: Use a chef’s knife to slice out the thick ribs, then discard the ribs and chop the leaves into small, bite-sized pieces. Transfer the kale to a big salad bowl. Sprinkle a small pinch of sea salt over the kale and massage the leaves with your hands by lightly scrunching big handfuls at a time, until the leaves are darker in color and fragrant.
  3. Drizzle salad dressing over the kale (you might not need all of the dressing) and toss well so the kale is lightly coated with dressing. Add the drained black beans, feta, avocado and chopped cilantro to the bowl.
  4. Toast the pepitas in a skillet over medium-low heat for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until they smell fragrant and start making little popping noises. Transfer the pepitas to the salad bowl. Toss the salad to combine.
  5. To make the crispy tortilla strips: Stack the corn tortillas and slice them into thin little strips, about 2 inches long. Heat a large pan over medium heat and add a drizzle of olive oil. Once the oil is shimmering, toss in the tortilla slices, sprinkle them with salt and stir. Cook until the strips are crispy and turning golden, stirring occasionally, about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove tortilla strips from skillet and drain on a plate covered with a piece of paper towel. Top the salad with crispy tortilla strips and serve.
Notes
In a hurry? Skip the tortilla strips or top your salad with a handful of crushed tortilla chips instead. You can also simplify the dressing if necessary—just whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, honey and salt.
Storage suggestions: This salad keeps well for a couple of days, covered and refrigerated. Top individual portions with crispy tortilla strips just before serving. The strips tend to get soggy if they’re in contact with the dressing for long.
Make it gluten free: This salad is gluten-free as long as your tortillas and chips are gluten free.

Disclaimer: Lactalis compensated me to license the photos and content in this post and provided me with complimentary Président cheese products. Opinions are my own, always! Thank you for supporting the brands that support Cookie and Kate.

Comments

  1. says

    Yum! You certainly have come a long way from spinach and ranch, ha. Your salads are always lovely and this one is no exception. Excited about all of the flavors and textures in here!

  2. says

    My favorite lunch salad involves feta, avocado and tortilla chips. I love the idea of kale though, and thanks for the tip about massaging it first! Can’t wait to try this!

  3. says

    Even with your spinach only salad you were much better than me! I used to be an iceberg salad kind of girl with lots and lots of ranch dressing all over the top of the salad, not on the side! Thankfully my salad eating ways have changed too and I am drooling over this kale salad! Taco salad is pretty much a weekly thing in my house, but I’ve never tried it with kale! That is such a great idea and I’m definitely going to use kale next time! I also love the feta and the crispy tortilla strips, no salad is complete without something crispy :)

  4. says

    And what exactly is wrong with with a big bowl of just spinach? Although I will point I love lots of other types of salad too!

    • says

      Fortunately, my taste buds came to their senses in college. I seriously love kale. I’m not-so-secretly trying to turn all of my visitors into kale converts. It’s a work in progress. :)

  5. says

    I completely agree with your (new) salad philosophy… creamy, crunchy, sweet, savoury… ah! Yum. That’s the beauty of salads. This one sounds wonderful, the crumbled feta with cranberries is a great idea. Oh, and your recollections of the spinach with ranch phase made me laugh! I never would’ve guessed you (the salad queen!) would have started with the very basics, Kate! xx

    • says

      Haha, the salad queen, love it! I used to be the pickiest eater of all time but at least I always enjoyed salads! Even if they were just spinach and ranch. :)

  6. Kara says

    It’s 6:30am and this recipe is making me hungry for dinner! I’m totally obsessed with your sweet potato/black bean enchiladas. I’ve made them for new baby/new house/just because meals and everyone, even non-vegetarians like myself adore them. Keep up the delicious awesomeness! p.s. So glad you made KC your home, it’s a great city!

    • says

      Hello from KC, Kara! I’m so glad you love those enchiladas! I wish I’d thought to make them for my friend when she had her baby last year.

  7. says

    This salad looks absolutely gorgeous! I loved your tip about the tastes and textures that should go into a salad, I will definitely be keeping that in mind when I make salads in the future.

  8. Anne says

    Should you forget to massage your kale before you dump in the other ingredients, never fear! Nothing in there suffered from some bonus “manipulation” ( though for mess’s sake I’m glad I discovered my error before adding dressing). Purchased tortilla chips added an easy and tasty crunch. I might use sunflower seeds (less expensive) next time but enjoyed trying pepitas for the first time. There’s a local aquaponics farm that sells great kale at our farmer’s market and you are helping me help them manage their inventory–ha!

    All of your recipes have been sooooo good that I’m thinking I might need to “Julie & Julia” you. I’m not a blogger (work & grad school are enough) but I’ll check in with comments on your site. Thanks for being an inspiration!

  9. says

    My salads used to consist of iceberg lettuce, out of season tomatoes, and blue cheese dressing! So we were almost boring salad twins when we were young. I am so glad we have evolved so much. :P

    Kale salads are totally my jam! And I love anything that resembles a fiesta. What a fun salad!

    • says

      Well hey, I’m impressed that you liked blue cheese way back when. My taste buds would not tolerate blue cheese until I hit my 20s!

  10. Krystal says

    This was a HUGE 4th of July hit and perhaps my favorite salad of yours yet (though it’s hard to choose). Thank you!

  11. Allie says

    I am HOOKED! This is the third or forth recipe that ive tried of yours after discovering you last week and i have not been disappointed. This one may have been my favorite. Sweet potato and black bean tacos tomorrow night ! Thanks for all you do.

  12. Elizabeth says

    Made this tonight…was feeling apprehensive about all the kale, but the dressing was perfect, and the textures of the cheese, black beans and especially the tortilla strips were superb. A salad I can’t stop eating!!

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