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Mexican Kale Salad

  • Author: Tessa
  • Total Time: 40 mins
  • Yield: 4 large salads 1x


If I ordered the perfect kale salad at a Mexican restaurant, this would be it. Tender kale, vegan sour cream dressing, pickled red onions, and so much more.



Pickled red onions

  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced (you can use a mandoline; I usually don’t)
  • A pinch of dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 serrano or small jalapeno pepper, halved lengthwise
  • 1 C distilled white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 C hottest tap water
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 3 T sugar

Everything else

  • 1 lb. (8 to 9) tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • Splash of olive or vegetable oil
  • 4 huge handfuls stemmed curly green kale, sliced thin
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • 1 lime
  • 1 jicama root
  • 1/4 C chopped cilantro, plus extra leaves for topping
  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed (3 C)
  • 3/4 C chopped or sliced California pitted green olives (almost 1 can)
  • Vegan sour cream (recipe here)


  1. Place onion, red pepper flakes, and chile pepper in a glass jar or container. In a large liquid measuring cup or bowl, mix vinegar, water, salt, and sugar until the latter two dissolve. Gently pour liquid over onions until submerged, discarding any extra liquid. Cover and refrigerate 8 to 12 hours to complete pickling, although the onions will be tasty and much less pungent after just an hour or two.
  2. Preheat broiler and move over rack close to it. Halve tomatillos (quarter if very large). Splash about 1/2 tablespoon oil onto a rimmed sheet pan and rub cut tomatillo sides in it to coat. Turn cut side up and broil until browning at edges. Turn halves cut side down and continue broiling until skin is browned and tomatillos are soft. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a large bowl, sprinkle kale with a little salt. Grab and squeeze big handfuls of kale with your bare (clean) hands, until it becomes greener, tender, and reduced in volume (see pictures). Toss with juice of 1 small lime then let stand at room temp or in refrigerator.
  4. Peel jicama with a knife (the skin is thick), then halve, slice 1/4″ thick, and julienne.
  5. Chop cooled tomatillos and combine with black beans, chopped cilantro, and a pinch of salt to form a chunky black bean salsa.
  6. Toss tenderized kale with 1/3 cup, to start, of vegan sour cream to coat (I thinned the sour cream with a splash of water). Add more dressing if desired or serve on the side. Portion kale between serving bowls and top, or serve family style with, black bean/tomatillo salsa, pickled red onions, jicama, olives, and cilantro leaves. If you need some cheese or nuts, feta and shelled pistachios, respectively, would be nice.


Pickled red onion recipe is a hardly adapted version of my favorite from Bon Appetit, March 2011.

  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Category: Salad
  • Cuisine: Mexican