Kale Salad and a Sweet and Spicy Almond Dressing

While working at Hillstone (Houston’s, South Beverly Grill, etc.), I ate their kale salad with spicy peanut dressing at least 3 times a week. It became a mild obsession. This is not that salad (I don’t have the recipe). This is a recipe I developed right after I left Hillstone in 2015. There are a lot of variations to this dish: you can use different types of cabbage, pretty much any nut you want, numerous hard cheeses, and you can change the heat and garlic levels to your taste buds. It can also be vegetarian if you remove the chicken, and vegan if you remove the cheese as well. The salad tastes great with the animal products omitted.

This is my go-to recipe, usually done with green cabbage instead of red. I used red because I had it in the fridge. I think it looks really pretty in this salad. Feel free to change the dressing as you see fit.

This recipe makes a salad for 4 people, and dressing for about 2 recipes worth of salad (so 8 people).

For step-by-step instructions, check out my Youtube Video.

Dressing Ingredients:

1/4 c spicy brown mustard

1/4 c sugar

2 medium cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbl fresh oregano, minced

2 tsp tamari (you can sub soy sauce, but it won’t be gluten-free)

2 Tbl rice wine vinegar, unseasoned

3/4 tsp Kosher salt

2-3 dashes, cayenne pepper

3 c light olive oil blend*

1/2 c almonds, roasted, rough chopped

1/2 ea serrano, minced with seeds

Salad Ingredients:

1 head kale, curly green or Tuscan, stems removed, rough chopped

1/2 c cilantro, rough chopped

1/4 c parsley, rough chopped

1/4 c scallions, dark green part only, thinly sliced

1/8 head red cabbage, cored, thinly sliced

1 ea avocado, cut into 1″ pieces

1 ea roasted chicken breast, skinless, preferably warm, shredded by hand

1/2 c microplaned Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano (or 1/4 c if using box grater)

*Note: If you don’t have blended oil, more neutral oils for this dressing are best. I prefer avocado oil, but canola, vegetable, sunflower, or corn work too. Just try to avoid using 100% EVOO if possible because the dressing will taste bitter.


Step 1: Make the dressing

Combine all dressing ingredients except for oil, almonds, and serrano pepper in a blender. If you don’t have  blender, you may do this by hand. Blend everything thoroughly to dissolve the sugar, 10-15 seconds.

With the motor running, pour in a slow, steady stream until fully emulsified. I used a Nutri-Bullet to do this, so I just put everything with the oil and blended it. The emulsion won’t hold as well if you do it the way I did, so just be sure to mix thoroughly before tossing the dressing with the greens.

No matter how you make the dressing, make sure to mix in the almonds and serrano by hand. The serrano can become overwhelmingly spicy if you don’t, and I love the texture of big pieces of almonds floating throughout the dressing. We aren’t making almond butter.

Step 2: Prep the Greens

The idea here is to make almost everything look like rough chopped parsley (except the cabbage). Remove the stems from the kale, then go through the leafy greens 5 or 6 times with your knife. Do whatever you want with the stems. Juice is always a good idea. Repeat with the cilantro, parsley, and scallions.

As for the cabbage, I prefer to thinly shred it, then make sure all of the pieces are bite-sized. The cabbage gives this salad a really nice crunch.

Step 3: Toss and Plate

Place all of the greens in a bowl and add the avocado cubes. Shred the chicken directly into the bowl, if using. This is best with warm chicken in my opinion, but cold works really well too. Add about half of the cheese, if using. Mix everything thoroughly to combine.

Add about 1/2-3/4 c of the dressing, or more if you like. Remember, this salad serves 4 people. Mix thoroughly again, then plate it up, emphasizing height.

Top with a little more grated cheese and serve immediately. IMG_1106

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Hi! I'm a professional chef and entrepreneur. I have always loved cooking and decided to share my personal recipes, kitchen know-how, and other food knowledge with the world!

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