A healthy avocado kale salad loaded with veggies and tossed in a light lemon dressing. The massaged kale salad is Whole30, paleo, gluten-free, and low carb, plus it takes just 20 minutes to make. It's a WHOLE LOTTA YUM!
Avocado and Kale Salad with Pine Nuts
Our simple avocado and kale salad is the recipe we go to every time we're looking for a kale salad. We thought it was about time to add it to our website since we've been eating it for years for lunch or as a dinner side salad.
We love to make a salad with kale since it stays crisp and keeps its texture for days coated in dressing for days in the fridge. Many salad greens don't keep and turn soggy.
The secret ingredient to making this the BEST kale salad recipe is using an entire bunch of cilantro mixed right in. You just might not ever make an avocado kale salad without cilantro again!
- kale, stemmed and chopped - to save time purchase a bag of prepped kale from the store. If you chop the kale yourself, just chop the leaves for the salad and not the stem.
- bell peppers, chopped (or mini peppers sliced) - using the colored peppers adds a splash of color. Flavorwise you can use red bell peppers, yellow, orange, or green.
- red onion, chopped - red onions are the best for eating raw since they have a milder flavor
- sliced cucumber - any variety of cucumber will work here. We used the small Persian cucumbers from Trader Joes.
- avocado, cubed - any variety of large avocado
- cilantro, chopped - the secret ingredient in the salad! Don't skip this. If you really hate cilantro and think it tastes like soap you could use fresh parsley instead or other fresh herbs but we haven't tested that variation. Or you could simply leave the cilantro out (but again, highly recommended!)
- pine nuts - yes, pine nuts! While many people use them for making pesto sauce, we LOVE how they taste in our avocado kale salad recipe. Salted walnuts, pecans, or sunflower seeds would be tasty as well.
- fresh lemon, juiced (1 Tbsp) - fresh lemon, not concentrate
- avocado oil - extra virgin olive oil or your favorite mild oil for salads are fine also
- agave or honey - a granulated sweetener such as monk fruit or Swerve can be substituted but just add it to taste, you will need less than the amount stated in the recipe.
- sea salt - fine kosher salt or pink Himalayan salt work too
** Please see the recipe card at the bottom of the post for the exact quantities **
Add protein- Mixed in cooked chicken, or beans such as garbanzo beans or edamame beans.
Add grains - our favorite grain to mix in is quinoa which is also high in fiber and protein. Any pre-cooked grain will work.
Add fruit - Tossing in blueberries or strawberries are delicious with kale salad. We'd suggest eliminating the bell pepper if you're adding fruit or substituting part of it with celery.
- Vegan- to keep the salad vegan, use agave as the sweetener and not honey
- Keto/Low carb-use monkfruit or Swerve to sweeten the salad, cut back on the red onion, use lower carb nuts.
Step by Step Instructions
Other than the chopping and slicing, assembling our avocado and kale salad is super simple! Just massage the kale, add the veggies, toss together with the dressing.
- Massage the kale in a clean bowl with clean hands for 3 minutes.
- Add the bell peppers, red onion, cucumber, avocado, cilantro, and pine nuts to the salad bowl. Combine.
- In a small bowl mix the lemon juice, avocado oil, sweetener, and salt. Mix.
- Add the dressing to the kale salad and toss the ingredients to combine. Serve and enjoy!
- Buying a bag of washed, cut, and trimmed kale will save you time. Check the bag to make sure it's a variety recommended for salads and not for cooking.
- Massaging the kale helps to soften the texture by breaking down the fibers.
- Avocado and kale salad will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days, the avocado will start to brown slightly but will still taste good.
To remove the bitterness from kale, you can massage it with a little bit of olive oil. This will help to break down the fibers in the kale and make it more palatable. You can also add an acid or sweetener to the salad such as lemon juice or vinegar which will help to offset the bitterness.
Massaging kale helps to break down the fibers in the kale and make it more palatable. It also helps to release some of the bitterness from the kale.
The best types of kale for eating raw in salads are lacinato, red Russian, and curly kale. These types of kale are more tender and have a milder flavor than other types of kale.
More Healthy Salad Recipes
- Mexican shrimp salad
- Egg and avocado salad
- BBQ chicken sweet potato bowl
- Greek tomato cucumber salad
- Healthy bean salad
- Arugula burrata salad with peaches