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Enjoy a healthy Corn Kale Salad on its own or as a side to any meal. Ready in under 20 minutes, it's made with massaged kale and topped with grilled corn, squash, avocado, and an easy homemade chili-lime dressing. Plus, it's both vegan AND gluten free!
This corn kale salad is a reader favorite, and for good reason. It screams summertime, and is an easy way to finally turn kale skeptics into fans. As much as I like salads made with arugula or mixed greens, kale salads are my favorite, probably because the kale is massaged with olive oil, which automatically gives it more flavor.
- Loaded with kale+veggies, this salad is both vegan and gluten free
- The homemade chili-lime dressing is made with ingredients that are already in your cupboard
- It's easy to prep ahead, and can be eaten on its own for lunch or as a side at dinnertime
A full ingredient list is provided in the recipe card below, but I just want to give further clarification for a few ingredients.
Kale - I used curly kale, but lacinato works too
Corn - on the cobb, or pre-husked, packaged corn. If you use corn on the cobb, make sure to husk it before grilling it.
Jalapeño pepper - can sub any kind of pepper. The jalapeño adds more flavor to the dressing, but serrano or even habanero will work.
Onion flakes - can sub onion powder
There are two ways to cook the corn: over the stove (if you don't own a grill and/or it's raining and you don't want to use the grill) OR on the actual grill. These instructions will provide the "how-to" for both options.
Step 1: Massage the kale. If you eat kale salads often, you already know that this step is a MUST. Place kale into a large bowl then drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil. Use your hands to massage it--essentially rubbing the oil into the kale--for about 30 seconds, then set it aside.
Step 2: Make the dressing. Add all of the dressing ingredients to a blender (I like using my NutriBullet for this) or food processor and pulse until smooth. Do a taste test and add more salt/pepper or even jalapeño if you want it to be spicier.
Step 3: Cook the corn. There are two ways to do this, on the stove or on the grill. Stovetop method: Heat a large skillet over medium-high, then place the corn directly on the skillet and char for 5-8 minutes or until the corn is blackened. Grill: Heat a grill over high heat, then place the corn directly on the grill and grill for 10 minutes, turning frequently, until the corn is charred. Once the corn is cooked, use a knife to cut it off the cobb.
Step 4: Sauté the veggies. Add the zucchini and squash to a skillet with a bit of oil and sauté until cooked, about 3-4 minutes.
Step 5: Assemble the salad. Use kitchen tongs to combine everything and make sure the salad is evenly coated with dressing.
Tips and FAQs
- If you can't find corn on the cobb, many grocery stores sell already husked corn in the produce section.
- Want this salad to be spicier? Since you're already using jalapeño in the dressing, you could chop up the the rest of the jalapeño and include it in the salad.
- For protein: optional of course, but if you want to add protein, try adding chicken, salmon, tuna, or tempeh.
Can I make this ahead of time?
Sure can! If you don't mind the vegetables being cold, you can prep this entire thing in advance and store it in a container in the refrigerator. But, wait to add the avocado until right before you're ready to eat it so it doesn't brown.
More salad recipes
If you made this recipe, be sure to leave a comment and star rating below. Thanks!
Grilled Corn Kale Salad
- 4 cups kale massaged with 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup zucchini sliced
- 3/4 cup yellow squash sliced
- 1/2 cup red onion sliced
- 1 avocado
- 2 ears of corn husked
for the dressing:
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp distilled white vinegar
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp jalapeño diced with seeds removed
- 1/2 tsp onion flakes
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- salt and pepper to taste
- For the salad: place kale in a large bowl, massage it and set it aside
- For the dressing: combine all ingredients in a blender and pulse until everything is combined. Do a taste test and adjust salt/pepper as needed.
- Cook the corn (two ways): Stovetop: in a large skillet, heat both ears of corn until they turning brown; remove and wait a few minutes before slicing corn off the cob and placing on top of salad. Grill: place the corn directly onto a grill: heat grill on high and cook corn for approximately 10 minutes, until charred.
- Heat a separate skillet with 1 tbsp olive oil and place zucchini and squash in it, cooking until golden brown on either sides; put them on top of the kale.
- While zucchini and squash are cooking, slice the onion and place on the kale salad.
- Last, add avocado to the salad. Then, drizzle the salad with dressing and enjoy!
UPDATE NOTE: This post was originally published in June 2016. It was updated with new text and photos in June 2020.