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Southwestern Kale Salad with Avocado Dressing + Polenta Croutons

  • Author: Allison
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4-6 servings 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


This southwestern kale salad with avocado dressing, beans, and polenta croutons is vegan, healthy, and satisfying. Enjoy it as a side dish with bbq tofu or on its own as a light lunch.



Polenta Croutons

  • 3 cups water
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 1/2 cup cashew hemp parmesan (optional)

Avocado Lime Dressing

  • Zest and juice of 1 lime (about 1/4 cup of lime juice)
  • 1 medium avocado, pitted
  • 1/4 cup hemp
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt, plus more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup water


  • 2 medium bunches green kale
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (or 1 14-oz can, drained and rinsed)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 a medium red onion, thinly sliced



  1. Make the polenta croutons: Bring the water and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce the heat to medium and slowly add the cornmeal, whisking constantly. Be very careful, as bubbling polenta is extremely hot. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, whisking frequently, until the texture is smooth, creamy, and reasonably thick. Depending on how coarsely ground your cornmeal is, this may only take a couple of minutes. Stir in the olive oil and cashew hemp parmesan.
  2. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with olive oil. Transfer the cooked polenta to the dish and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line one very large or two medium baking sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Carefully turn the refrigerated polenta out onto a large cutting board. Slice the polenta into 1-inch cubes, then slice the cubes into triangles. Arrange the polenta triangles in an even layer on one or two parchment  paper-lined baking sheets. Lightly brush tops with olive oil.
  5. Bake for a total of 35-40 minutes, flipping the polenta triangles halfway through baking to ensure even crispiness. You’ll know that the croutons are ready when they are crispy all around the outside with slightly soft interiors.
  6. Make the avocado lime dressing: Place the lime juice and zest, avocado, hemp, cilantro, nutritional yeast, sea salt, pepper, cumin, garlic, and water in a blender and blend until smooth. Transfer into an airtight container.
  7. Prepare the salad: Wash and dry the kale. Discard tough stems and chop the leaves into ribbons. Place in a large bowl and pour the dressing on top. Massage the dressing into the kale using your hands. Next, add the black beans, cherry tomatoes, red pepper, and red onion. Toss to incorporate. Finally, toss in some of the polenta croutons, reserving some for garnish.


  • Category: Salad, Side Dish, Lunch
  • Cuisine: Southwestern

Keywords: southwestern kale salad, kale salad with polenta croutons