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.)
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.
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!
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.
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- 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)
- 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
- To make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients until emulsified.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.