Kale Salad with La Laquita Queso Fresco

February 23, 2017

I've heard that one of the best ways to shop a grocery store is by focusing on the perimeter versus the aisles. Why? Because along the edge is where you find the produce, meats, dairy, deli...the less processed stuff. The aisles hold temptation like cereal (a former main food group of mine), frozen food, and all things already packaged, preserved, and or boxed and bagged. There's nothing wrong with hitting up the middle section - and believe me I have some frozen pizzas, pasta, peanut butter, and taco chips to prove it - but I do try to keep the perimeter technique in mind when I'm getting my groceries. Aside from it being more "healthy," it's also made me more curious about certain foods and ingredients and led to some great discoveries.

Kale happens to be something I love ordering at a restaurant but have never bought myself. I was thinking this the other day when I was making my grocery list and craving a salad different from the arugula and tomato variety I had been eating for weeks. One of my fave cheeses - La Vaquita Queso Fresco - was already on my list so I did a little Googling for "kale + queso fresco" and found a yummy recipe to inspire me. Bonus, the easy salad included another ingredient I never ever buy but like: radishes. I took some liberties with the original recipe - deciding against using pipitas and swapping in this dressing (from one of my favorite spots in Dallas) then I hit the store.

 

Grocery shopping was once something I loathed but now really enjoy. I think it’s because I’ve made myself familiar with where to find things I need and am not afraid to ask questions when I need help. Case in point: years ago when I made my first recipe requiring Queso Fresco  I was looking for the cheese it in the area by the meats/deli area. Nada. I finally asked where I could find the crumbly cheese and was directed to the dairy section – near where you find all the milk, yogurt, etc. Alas! Queso Fresco. There were a few brand options to choose from but I went with La Vaquita because I saw that it was made locally in Texas. I might not be a Texas native but that doesn’t keep me from buying locally-made goodness. After using La Vaquita Queso Fresco that first time (I think it was for brisket tacos) I was hooked on the super fresh, creamy cheese and have been buying the queso and creamas since. They’re great for Mexican style dishes but I’ve used them in non-Mexican recipes, too.

Lucky for me, La Vaquita is sold at all my go-to grocery stores (Tom Thumb, Central Market and Kroger). And I just have to stroll the perimeter of the store to land on it. Ok…now it’s time for the Kale Salad recipe that is the purpose of this post!

Fresh and Light Kale Salad: As we all probably know by this point, kale is a super veggie. It’s one of the most nutrient-dense commonly eaten vegetables and contains high amounts of vitamin K, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Eating it raw (like in a salad) is the best way to keep all the vitamins intact. It doesn’t have an overly strong taste (maybe just a little peppery) so it’s easy to dress up and pair with other ingredients. As I mentioned above, my inspiration for mixing the kale with radishes, avocado and Queso Fresco came from this recipe. But I wasn’t super keen on using lime in the dressing as suggested and decided to use this dressing recipe for one of my favorite kale salads in Dallas. Though the lime may have made for more of a “Mexican” flavor, I found that the lemon and garlic went perfectly with the other fixings and the whole combination was super delicious!

Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch kale
  • 4 medium radishes
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 cup La Vaquita Queso Fresco

Salad Dressing Ingredients:

  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, mashed
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Slice kale into thin ribbons
  • Thinly slice radishes
  • Cube avocado
  • Crumble La Vaquita Queso Fresco
  • Combine dressing ingredients in a salad dressing mixer or whisk in a bowl
  • Layer kale, radishes, avocado and Queso Fresco in a large bowl, top with dressing and gently toss.
  • Add additional crumbled Queso Fresco if desired and/or serve with with some on the side to be added after plated.

Sally – being the lucky sister that she is – got to enjoy this yum salad with me after we photographed it and she was just as into it as I was. We’re definitely going to make it again (and again, and again). It’s super filling on its own and we decided it would be great with some grilled chicken, too. Of course, we added extra spoonfuls of Queso Fresco on top of our servings because the cheese is always our favorite part!

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