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Summer salads: Kale avocado salad with dried cranberry and balsamic-lemon dressing

Photo by: Jean-Mark Sens

Kale and Avocado Salad with dried cranberry and balsamic-lemon dressing

Serving Size: 4 generous servings or 6 small plates

Though Laciato Kale is the basis of this salad, you can substitute it with other types of kale that you can mix together for a variety of colors and textures. Baby kale, which is increasingly available, makes this salad ready to make and still preserves some of the mother kale pungency. This salad is best when dressed 30 minutes prior to serving, as dressing will tenderize kale and carrots, and blend in flavors.

Depending on your taste, and the residual bitterness of kale, you can use white balsamic or red wine balsamic vinegar. I tend to prefer white, which brings out a greater acidity from the lemon in the dressing.


Kale, lacinato, or baby kale: about 8 oz

olive oil: enough to coat leaves

lemon juice: 2 teaspoon

lemon zest: ¼ teaspoon

salt and pepper

Avocado: 1, diced (sprinkle it with a bit lemon juice for freshness)

Carrots: 3 oz, ribboned with vegetable peeler, or cut small julienne

Dried cranberries: 2 to 3 oz. (if large chop some of them)


Dijon: 1 Tablespoon

balsamic vinegar: 2 teaspoon,

lemon juice: 1 teaspoon

lemon zest: ½ teaspoon

garlic: 1 clove, crushed

olive oil: up to ½ cup

capers: (optional) in white balsamic vinegar preferred: 1 tablespoon or more to taste

Herb: fresh thyme, stemmed removed. 1 teaspoon or more.

Garnish: sunflower seeds up to 2 oz.



  1. Make dressing with all ingredients but capers to form an emulsion.
  2. Add capers, taste, adjust salt and pepper.
  3. Toss carrots, dried cranberries avocado with kales coated with small amount of olive oil. Pour over enough dressing to generously coat all the salad mixture. Let stand for 30 minutes before serving. Taste and adjust with additional lemon juice and olive oil if needed.
  4. Before plating, add sunflower seeds and thyme.




Jean-Mark Sens grew up in France and Belgium and has been living in the Southern United States of America for the past 25 years, except for a short stint in the deep East of Maine, which brought him back to New Orleans. He has taught culinary arts at the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute, Eastern Maine Community College and more recently for Mississippi University for Women on the Gulf Coast, and also works with the Goldring Centre for Culinary Medicine in New Orleans. He has published a collection of poetry, Appetite, with Red Hen Press. The present recipes are part of Leafy Greens and Sundry Things, a book on the arts and technique of composing salads in need of a publisher.