I’m not a salad person. Trust me, I wish I was. I want to be the kind of lady who is happy to eat for fuel and little else. But I am not. Yes, I do like quite a few vegetables well-enough but you’re not liable to find me vibrating over my love of dandelion greens or endive. I treat vegetables as compliments to something richer, and more often than not, fattier. Something refreshing, bitter, or astringent to provide contrast rather than being the main event. This is why you don’t see all that many salads on Rhubarb & Cod. Most of the time I just surrender to the convenience of a bagged salad or a pile of greens with a drizzle of a hastily made vinaigrette. But every now and then, I make truly epic salads. And today’s Crispy Avocado Kale Salad is one such salad.
This Crispy Avocado Kale Salad is loaded with all manner of distracting accouterments. There’s BBQ seasoned silvered almonds, juicy slices of blood orange, fiery jalapeño rings, and the pièce de résistance – the crispy avocado. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s talk about the Whipped Feta Dressing first because I think this is one of those recipes you will always be happy to have in your back pocket.
This Whipped Feta Dressing is surprisingly simple to make. Simply crumble some feta into a large food processor, add a clove of garlic, some lemon juice, yogurt, and parsley. Then just blitz the ingredients while streaming in a little olive oil. What you’re left with is a silky smooth dressing that could be served as a dip if you were so inclined. But if you do use the Whipped Feta as a dressing, just make sure you let it come up to room temperature before adding it to your salad. This will ensure maximum coat-ability. And believe me, this dressing coats kale like nothing else.
I do believe the key to liking raw kale is to completely enrobe it in dressing. And unlike most kinds of lettuce, kale is resilient enough to stand up to that kind of treatment. In other words, go to town with the Whipped Feta Dressing, your kale will not sog out. And your taste buds will actually celebrate the contrast of the bitterness of the kale with the creaminess of the dressing. Yes, I do have to trick myself to appreciate kale.
But the Whipped Feta Dressing is not fighting the good fight all on its own. There are a few supporting characters that deserve some individual attention. And one such ingredient is the BBQ seasoned almonds. These tasty little nuts, bring some extra crunch, light sweetness, and smokiness to the salad. You can certainly buy and coarsely chopped some smoked almonds to speed things up. But I have included the recipe for the almonds below. They are not difficult to make and they only require a very brief trip in the oven.
Now, let’s talk about the main event – the Crispy Avocado. Before you wonder at the logic behind loading a salad up with something deep-fried, I have to tell you the avocado is baked. Yes, it’s not very on-brand for me. If you’ve visited this blog before, you know I’m no stranger to deep frying. But I try to deploy the method of deep frying only when extremely necessary. Like in the instance of fish and chips, or arancini. Baked Crispy Avocado tastes great and it holds its shape in the oven, so there’s really no reason to muss up your stovetop.
For a salad to be successful it must have layers of interest. That means you can’t just have a pile of greens with some crunchy things on top. You need sweet, tart, juicy, and spicy things to round out a dream salad. So with that in mind, let’s finish this Crispy Avocado Kale Salad off with some blood orange slices and jalapeño rings. We’re coasting into spring, so the blood oranges are not long for this world. Consider this a PSA encouraging you to deploy blood oranges whenever possible in the coming weeks.
The jalapeño is pretty much a no-brainer in my home. Everything has to have a little bit of an edge in this house. But we like our heat, so the suggested 3-4 jalapeños might be a no-go for you. So feel free to cut it down to one or two or none. None is fine if heat isn’t your thing. There is still a lot of deliciousness to be had in this salad.
So that’s everything you need to know about this Crispy Avocado Kale Salad with Whipped Feta Dressing. This salad has everything going for it. It’s sweet, bitter, tangy, spicy, crisp, juicy, and surprisingly healthy. This is basically the salad of my dreams. And believe it or not that statement used to be an oxymoron.
Crispy Avocado Kale Salad with Whipped Feta Dressing
- 1 cup slivered almonds
- 2 tsp demerara sugar
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp dry mustard
- ¼ – ½ tsp cayenne
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp ground coriander
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Additional salt for sprinkling
- 2 avocados pitted and cut into wedges
- ½ lemon juiced
- 1 tsp salt divided
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs beaten
- 1½ cups panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp olive oil
Whipped Feta Dressing
- 125g (4.5 oz) feta cheese crumbled
- 1 clove garlic peeled
- 1 lemon juiced
- ¼ cup full-fat yogurt
- ¼ cup fresh parsley tightly packed
- 2 tbsp olive oil
Crispy Avocado Kale Salad
- 300g (10.5oz) green kale stalks removed, coarsely chopped
- 1 batch Whipped Feta Dressing
- 2 blood oranges skin removed, sliced
- 3-4 jalapeños*** thinly sliced
- 1 batch Crispy Avocado
- 1 batch BBQ Almonds
For the Almonds
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Pour the almonds into a medium-sized bowl and set aside.
- Place all of the spices in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Pour the mixture over the almonds and drizzle with the olive oil. Toss to coat.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and pour the almonds onto the sheet. Spread the nuts out into an even layer and transfer them to the oven. Bake for 6-7 minutes or until the nuts are lightly golden. Let the nuts cool completely.
For the Avocado
- Once you take the nuts out, increase the oven temperature to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside.
- Pour the lemon juice over the avocado wedges and sprinkle them with half of the salt. Place the rest of the salt in a bowl and add the flour and cornstarch. Whisk to combine. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl and pour the panko breadcrumbs into a large shallow vessel, like a pie plate.
- Working with one wedge at a time, roll the avocado in the flour/cornstarch mixture before coating it in the egg and finally rolling it in the panko breadcrumbs. Place the breaded avocado on your prepared baking sheet and repeat with the remaining wedges.
- Once the avocado wedges are breaded, drizzle the olive oil over top and transfer them to the oven. Bake for 15 minutes before flipping the wedges and baking for 10 minutes more. Keep the avocado warm, while you prepare the rest of the salad.
For the Dressing
- While the avocado is in the oven, make the dressing. Place the feta, garlic, lemon juice, yogurt, and parsley in a large food processor and blitz until it resembles mulch. With the food processor running, stream in the olive oil and blitz until smooth.
- Transfer the finished dressing to a bowl and set it aside.
For the Salad
- Place the kale in a large bowl. Add the Whipped Feta Dressing and toss to coat. Top the salad with the blood orange, jalapeños, BBQ Almonds, and Crispy Avocado. Serve immediately.