This Blackened Chicken Kale Salad with Garlic Herb Croutons is pretty much the only way I want to eat kale: massaged with dressing and topped with ALL the things! The toppings make the salad, and these toppings are plentiful and easy to throw together. The salad can be massaged with dressing ahead of time and gluten-free croutons can be made the night before; all you have to do is throw it all together and chow down!
I feel like I’ve already let myself get so busy that my head is spinning. I know, it’s only two weeks into the New Year, but I need to edit down my activities. I jumped right into a lot of “for me” things that now are feeling like obligations. Challenges with yoga and food, photography, recipe goals, journaling prompts, photo organizing…and having a baby that naps so sporadically is making me feel like I’m drowning.
I try not to complain too much because I know a lot of people don’t have the “time” I have. I have time to workout and do yoga in my home (I found 30 minute gaps in my time here and there). I haven’t been shooting recipes for the blog because it is SO gloomy here. I even binge watch my favorite shows while doing housework. But seriously, every moment is filled with something. I want my brain to be off. Please.
I don’t know where this is leading, but I just had to put it out there. And mostly, I need to choose what is actually serving me. Maybe I’ll just drop Facebook, because that just makes my brain ache and I feel like my world would be infinitely better without it.
Anyways. When I was on Snapchat* last week, I asked which recipes you all wanted to see most! This Blackened Chicken Kale Salad with Garlic Herb Croutons got some ooo’s and ahhh’s so I’m excited to share it with you!
This is a kale salad…because duh, New Years equals kale salads. But I’ve loaded it up with ALL the goodies.
I can totally justify those Garlic Herb Croutons because they’re homemade, start to finish. I have been making my own gluten-free sourdough for a few weeks now, using the Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day cookbook as my muse. It has become SO easy for me to pop a loaf of bread in the oven and have real, homemade bread in our home. Plus, it’s not weird and crumbly like most gluten-free loaves can be. I used that bread, cubed up and covered in yummy olive oil and herbs and toasted them up (in the toaster oven). Tah dah! Croutons!
Then that cheese! Holy lord that’s good stuff. My mom and I can raid the Trader Joe’s cheese bar like no other. And this cheese is a sharp white cheddar that has notes of parmesan too. It’s a must! If you like just white cheddar, I know Cabot makes a great one too that is easy to find.
All the toppings on this Blackened Chicken Kale Salad really make the salad. The chicken is actually really healthy and just full of flavor because we cover it in spices then sear it in a pan.
You can easily double the recipe if you have friends eating with you. But I like having this big, comforting yet healthy salad all to myself at lunchtime. I love that when you really spend some time making the ingredients shine, your meal is that much more enjoyable.
- 4 ounces chicken breast strips
- 1 tsp. smoked paprika
- ½ tsp. garlic powder
- ½ tsp. onion powder
- ¼ tsp. cumin
- ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper (less if you don’t love spicy)
- ¼ tsp. Kosher salt
- 1 cup cubed gluten-free bread
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. oregano
- ½ cup grape or cherry tomatoes
- ¼ cup sharp white cheddar cheese
- ½ avocado
- 4 cups chopped kale (no stems)
- 4-5 large fresh basil leaves
- Juice of ½ a large lemon
- 1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
- 3 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 Tbs. honey
- Preheat your oven or toaster oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment. In a bowl, toss together the bread cubes, 2 Tbs. olive oil, 1 tsp. garlic powder and 1 tsp. oregano. Spread the cubes on your baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, stirring at 10 minutes. Croutons should be golden and crispy, so bake longer if needed, but watch them closely so they don’t burn.
- In a small bowl, combine the paprika, garlic, onion, cumin, cayenne and salt. Sprinkle the spice mixture over both sides of the chicken, rubbing it in with your fingers.
- Heat a skillet with 1 Tbs. olive oil over medium-high heat. Once it is hot, cook the chicken on each side, 4 minutes per side (I used very thin breast strips; adjust your cooking time for the thickness of your chicken). Place the chicken aside to rest.
- Finely chop your kale. Add the dressing ingredients and massage it all in vigorously with your hands. (If you want, you can do this a couple hours ahead of time, because kale tastes better the longer it soaks up dressing)
- Top your kale salad with the croutons, chicken, tomatoes, cheese, avocado, basil and a generous pinch of Kosher salt and pepper. Enjoy!