Kale Couscous Salad

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Kale Couscous Salad is packed with nutrients, is filling, and — most importantly — is loaded with flavor! This salad is made with fresh kale, cooked couscous, protein-filled black beans, juicy mango, creamy avocado, crisp red pepper, and salty sunflower seeds. All the ingredients are tossed in a punchy lemon vinaigrette.

After you get hooked on Kale Couscous Salad, be sure to try our kale and quinoa salad.

 

Overhead shot of Kale Couscous Salad, dressed and ready to eat.

Kale Couscous Salad

This is one of my all time favorite salad recipes. It has so much flavor and texture, plus it tastes so light and refreshing. It’s also surprisingly filling, thanks to the protein in the black beans, healthy fats in the avocado and sunflower seeds, and nutrients in all the other ingredients.

I never used to love kale, but after learning how to prepare it in a flavorful way, I can’t get enough of it now. We’ll talk more about that in a minute.

Overhead image of the ingredients are compartmentalized

How to make this salad

  • Prep the kale: The kale gets prepared first and I explain how exactly we do that below. 
  • Make the dressing: This dressing couldn’t be easier! Simply add all the ingredients and shake in a mason jar until combined. You may need to use a spoon to stir up the honey before shaking it, as the honey has a tendency to stick to the bottom and not integrate into the dressing at first.
  • Whip up the couscous: I love adding couscous to salads because it adds flavor and texture in minutes; couscous is so quick to make! It’ll be ready in about 5 minutes or less; simply bring the small amount of water to a boil, add the couscous, and remove from heat. After a minute or two, it’s ready to fluff up with a fork and toss with the kale. There are lots of different types of couscous, so you want to make sure to get the small couscous  so it cooks up in this quick amount of time.
  • Prep the other salad ingredients: Once the kale and dressing are ready, all that’s left is chopping the other ingredients that go in this salad: dice a red pepper, chop up a mango (here’s a great guide on how to cut a mango!), drain and rinse the black beans, and thinly slice or chop the avocado.

Process shots: preparing the kale; cooking the couscous; tossing the kale with the couscous; making the dressing; adding the dressing to the salad.

How to make kale taste good

So what is their secret to delicious kale? Massaging it.I know, it sounds weird and takes a little extra effort but it is well worth it for this kale couscous salad.

  • Start by removing the thick stems and then very thinly slice (ribbon) the kale. The smaller the shreds of kale, the better!
  • Once it’s all chopped, throw it in a colander (or even better, use the base of a salad spinner!) and give it a quick rinse.
  • Next, sprinkle some fine sea salt on top and, using your hands, rub and massage the salt into the kale. 
  • Massage the kale for about a minute and then give it another quick rinse.
  • Allow the kale to dry completely before adding it to the salad (a salad spinner hurries that process up quite a bit).

Closeup shots of the salad

Kale Couscous Salad tips

  • Truly, a ripe mango and avocado are game changers for this salad; it’s far more flavorful and creamy with both ingredients fully ripe.
  • I highly recommend honey mangoes for this salad (also known as Ataulfo mangoes). They’re sweeter and creamier than regular mangoes and don’t have the typical fibers throughout.
  • Adjust to preference: We like this salad loaded with toppings (not just a bunch of kale). If you’d prefer more kale or less of a certain ingredient, this salad is very forgiving. You may also want less of the dressing (we like lots!), so add slowly and to preference.
  • Add cheese: If you love cheese in your salads, I’d recommend goat cheese or feta cheese in this kale couscous salad.
  • Use salted roasted sunflower seeds: If salted, the seeds add a hit of salt which makes for the perfect finishing touch to this salad.

Storage

Kale Couscous Salad stores well in the fridge for a couple days, but it is truthfully best the same day it’s made.

While most salads need to be eaten soon after being dressed, this one sits well with its dressing for up to a day since the kale is heartier than most lettuces.

Overhead view of a serving bowl filled with Kale Couscous Salad, and two wooden serving spoons.

More tasty and healthy salads

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Kale Couscous Salad

5 from 2 votes
A simple and healthy salad: Kale Couscous Salad mixed with a lemon vinaigrette makes for a flavorful combination.
Print Recipe

Kale Couscous Salad

5 from 2 votes
A simple and healthy salad: Kale Couscous Salad mixed with a lemon vinaigrette makes for a flavorful combination.
Course lunch, Salad
Cuisine American
Keyword Kale Couscous Salad
Prep Time 25 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 -6
Calories 254kcal
Cost $6.34

Ingredients

  • 5 cups (loosely measured; about 8 ounces) kale
  • 1/3 cup couscous + 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup diced mangoes (I recommend Honey mangoes!)
  • 1 cup diced red pepper
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans
  • 1 small avocado, diced (optional)
  • 1/4 cup roasted and salted sunflower seeds

Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  • KALE: Start by removing the thick stems and then very thinly slice (ribbon) the kale. The smaller the shreds of kale, the better! Once it's all chopped, put it in a colander (or the base of a salad spinner) and give it a quick rinse. Next, sprinkle some fine sea salt on top (about 1/2 to 1 full teaspoon) and, using your hands, rub and massage the salt into the kale. Massage the kale for about a minute and then give it another quick rinse. Allow the kale to dry completely before using in the salad or spin in the salad spinner to quickly dry.
  • COUSCOUS: Meanwhile, prepare the couscous according to package directions using the water and olive oil. (Add water and oil to your smallest pot, bring to a boil, remove, stir in the couscous, cover with the lid, let steam a few minutes, remove lid, fluff couscous with a fork)
  • VEGGIES AND FRUIT: Remove the peel and pit of a mango and chop the fruit. Remove the stems and seeds of a red pepper and chop that as well. Drain and rinse the black beans. Remove the skin and pit of an avocado and thinly slice or chop if using.
  • DRESSING: in a mason jar, combine all of the dressing ingredients and shake until they are combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper, I add 1/4 teaspoon of each. (You may need to stir the honey into the dressing and shake it again).
  • ASSEMBLY: toss completely dried kale with couscous in a large bowl. Add the mango, red pepper, black beans, avocado, and sunflower seed. Drizzle dressing (as much as desired) on salad and toss. Add any additional dressing as desired and serve.

Recipe Notes

If you don't plan on eating all of the salad the same day you make it, reserve the dressing and pour it only on the serving you are going to eat. This keeps the salad from getting soggy.

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 254kcal | Carbohydrates: 32.9g | Protein: 7.6g | Fat: 7.6g | Sodium: 279.2mg | Fiber: 7.5g | Sugar: 10.6g

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12 Comments

  1. We haven’t been able to eat anything but junk food this weekend at my family reunion so I’m craving some kale right now! This looks awesome!

  2. I remember the first time I heard about massaging kale – I thought it sounded so weird! But you’re right – it really works! This salad looks so healthy and delicious. What a perfect light dinner!

  3. I think kale is an acquired taste. Dressing it up is the best way to go, and this recipe sure is dressed up. Love! Pinned.

  4. I am actually a big fan of kale and love the sound of this salad! The couscous is such a great addition and makes this a light and healthy meal 🙂

  5. Yum! I adore kale with lemon and what a fab idea to mix the couscous into this salad. This will soon be a fabulous lunch for me!! pinned!

  6. Found your recipe via Pinterest while searching for a clean couscous recipe. The idea of massaging kale is a new one to me, but I’ll definitely give it a try, can’t hurt. I have all the ingredients on hand so I’m whipping this up for a side with dinner tonight. Happy to have found you.

    Barbara @ http://www.allmylivesnow.com

  7. 5 stars
    Made it today, didn’t have black beans but added some broccoli slaw. Tasted awesome. Left the kale with a little bit of the dressing and 1 tbsp olive oil (added by mistake) for a couple of hours. Thank you for the recipe.

  8. 5 stars
    Awesome salad! I’m a newbie to kale and have been looking for a delicious recipe, since kale is so good for you. I used the tri-color pearl couscous (also known as Israeli couscous), which worked well. The lemon dressing is yummy! And, yes, the massaging of the kale is definitely the way to go. 🙂

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