Kale Taco Salad

A few weeks ago, I had the challenge of making dinner for 30+ high schoolers. Though I feel fairly confident cooking for large quantities of college students, this was a different ballgame. I’ve seen how much my high school kid eats! I have him options to choose, so we went with two types of enchiladas. He also told me that salads were a crowd pleaser with this group, so I added this Kale Taco Salad to the menu, and these brownies for dessert. What I didn’t expect was for my other kids at home to get grumpy that they didn’t get to partake in the meal. I had made extra enchiladas for them, but they wanted this salad!!

Here’s what I know: there were enchiladas leftover and there were brownies left over (woe to the peanut allergies). There was no salad leftover. And I used a huge bowl and quadrupled the recipe! So it’s a good salad. It’s a really good salad dressing. I altered the original recipe to include some romaine in addition to the kale because I wasn’t sure how high schoolers felt about kale. I think the mix was good, though you could easily go all kale. Just make sure to massage that kale with some dressing to make it nice, tender and easily digestible. (If the thought of a kale salad makes you gag, trust me that the massaged kale will change your opinion).

Large white bowl filled with kale, romaine, tomatoes, black beans, corn, red onions and avocados

Now is the time to make this salad with corn on the cob and farm fresh tomatoes in season. Cilantro and tomatoes are growing in my garden and are probably ready to be enjoyed right now. But alas, I’m across the country still living that college dining hall life. I’m eating a salad at every meal since my alternative is usually burgers, tacos, pizza or pasta. But my daily salads don’t light a candle next to this one. This salad and freshly baked cookies sound so good right now.

White bowl overflowing with the kale taco salad and a generous amount of avocados.

Large white bowl of kale taco salad, lots of avocados on the top

Kale Taco Salad

Course Salad
Yield 6 people


For the Cilantro Vinaigrette

  • 1 shallot, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups tightly packed fresh cilantro leaves, stems removed (about 4 ounces)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt

For the Salad

  • 2 heads curly kale, thinly shredded (or 1 head kale and 1 head romaine)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ cup freshly grated cheddar cheese
  • ½ red onion, finely diced (I did slices so kids could pick them out)
  • ½ jalapeno, finely diced
  • 2 ears of corn, shucked and corn sliced off the cob
  • 2 avocados, diced
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained


For the Cilantro Vinaigrette

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend for 2 minutes until smooth. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed and set aside.

For the Salad

  1. Prep all the food according to the ingredient list. Place the kale in a large salad bowl with enough salad dressing to cover the leaves (3-4 tbsp) and massage the leaves with your hands for about 3-4 minutes (it will darken in color). Arrange everything else into the bowl and serve with the remaining cilantro vinaigrette.


Source: Just slightly adapted from What's Gaby Cooking

What do you think?