Tender baby kale topped with sautéed shrimp, crunchy cucumbers, radishes and snap peas and creamy avocado with herby green goddess dressing. This easy and delicious baby kale salad recipe is packed with fresh, nutritious ingredients and bursting with flavor.
When the weather starts to warm up, I’m all about big, loaded, main dish salads for quick and easy dinners. They’re simple, fresh, flexible and often inspired simply by what catches my eye at the farmer’s market or grocery stores on a particular day.
Using baby kale as a salad base is one of the best ways to get more superfoods into your diet. Kale is actually a cruciferous vegetable like broccoli, cabbage, bok choy and Brussel sprouts. Just one cup of kale is packed with vitamins A, B6, C, K, folate, fiber and has nearly 15% of your daily value of calcium!
I love using baby kale because unlike mature kale, it requires no prep. The young leaves of the kale plant don’t have thick ribs and hearty fibrous leaves that need to be massaged. Tender, baby kale has a milder flavor and it’s much easier to chew. Just toss some baby raw kale in a bowl and you are minutes away from a delicious, nutritious salad.
If you’re looking for more ways to incorporate kale into your diet, check out some of my favorite kale recipes like this Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash with Sausage and Kale, Farmer’s Market Green Pasta or White Bean, Sausage and Kale Soup.
Why you will love this recipe
- It’s fast. Shrimp cook quickly. This salad takes no time to make and can be on the table in less than 20 minutes. It’s the perfect, delicious salad for a light lunch or dinner on busy weeknights.
- If you have any leftover shrimp on hand, this recipe is one of my favorite ways to use them up.
- The unique combination of ingredients is just bursting with flavor and texture. You will be excited to get your leafy greens in. No boring salads here!
Ingredients and variations
- Baby kale – you can usually find baby kale leaves in a clamshell container with the other greens at the grocery store. Baby spinach, romaine lettuce, arugula or any type of salad green you like can additionally be substituted for the base. You can also use another type of kale (curly kale or lacinato kale) but you have to massage it first. Check out this recipe for Sweet Potato Kale Salad for more on how to prep regular kale for a salad.
- Shrimp – You can use fresh or frozen shrimp and give it a quick sauté or use already cooked shrimp found behind the seafood counter or in the freezer section.
- Cucumber – adds crunch.
- Radish – adds crunch and a light, peppery flavor.
- Sugar snap peas – a cross between garden peas and snow peas, sugar snap peas are plump, sweet, crunchy pods that add tons of great flavor and texture to this salad. You can also use snow peas which are very similar in flavor and texture, just flatter pods and a little less sweet.
- Avocado – adds creaminess which is the perfect contrast to the crunchy veggies.
- Green goddess dressing – use whatever dressing brand you love but in my opinion, green goddess is the best dressing to complement the flavors in this salad. I love this Gotham Greens Green Goddess salad dressing that’s made with clean, simple ingredients. This salad is also be delicious with ranch dressing or any other type of herby, creamy dressing you like.
- Variations – add some juicy cherry tomatoes. Bulk it up and make grain bowls by adding cooked farro or quinoa. For more flavor, squeeze a little fresh lemon juice over the cooked shrimp. Not feeling shrimp? Top this salad with grilled or seared salmon!
Start by cooking the shrimp. Season thawed, peeled and deveined shrimp with a sprinkle of salt and black pepper to taste. Add a little bit of olive oil or avocado oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat and sauté the shrimp or 1-2 minutes per side just until they are opaque and cooked through. Shrimp cook really fast so be careful keep an eye on them and not overcook. When the shrimp are done, remove them from the heat and let cool slightly while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
Place a bed of baby kale on individual plates or a serving platter and top with sliced radishes, cucumbers, avocado and whole sugar snap peas. Arrange sautéed shrimp on top and drizzle with green goddess dressing. Serve immediately.
Baby Kale Salad Recipe FAQ
Yes. You can use curly kale or dinosaur kale. If using mature kale, strip the leaves from the tough stems. Chop the leaves into bite-sized pieces and drizzle with a teaspoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt. With clean hands, massage the kale for 2-3 minutes until it becomes shiny, soft and tender and reduces in volume by about half.
No. Unlike regular raw kale, tender baby kale that has dressing on it does not hold up well in the fridge. This salad only takes a few minutes to throw together and is best enjoyed fresh. Using pre-cooked shrimp is a great way to save a step.
Baby kale is more tender and mild than mature kale making it easier to chew. It’s still a cruciferous vegetable so if you have trouble digesting raw, fibrous veggies, this may not be for you.
Shrimp are fully cooked with the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. They should be opaque with a tender texture and curl up into a C shape. If they curl up into tight little O shapes, they are overcooked.
More main course salad recipes you will love
Easy Baby Kale, Sautéed Shrimp and Avocado Salad
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp, season with salt and pepper to taste and sauté for 1-2 minutes per side until just opaque and cooked through. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
- Add a bed of baby kale to individual plates or a serving platter. Top with sliced cucumbers, radishes, avocado and whole sugar snap peas. Arrange cooked shrimp on top and serve immediately with green goddess dressing.