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Summer Heat Fresh Kale Salad

Updated: Sep 16, 2021

Spice up your summer menu with healthy greens and a kick of El Yucateco flavor.

Summer is the perfect time of year for grilling, barbecue, fresh fruits and veg, and pretty much anything you can cook or eat outdoors. Picnics, barbecues, camping trips, and beach days rule our thoughts, if not always our calendars.

Grilled meats can sometimes overshadow the smorgasbord of delicious fresh produce available in the summer months, but the rich bounty of fruit and vegetables shouldn't be underestimated.

There are a million fresh veggie dishes that can either star in, or round out, a kicking summer meal. This is one of my go-to favorites.

Fresh kale salad recipe with parmesan cheese, prepared for summer grilling menu

Kale is amazingly healthy. Greens carry a whole pharmacy full of beneficial vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, plus a ton of fiber. Eating extra leafy greens in the warmer months can actually help your skin protect itself from sunburn! The nutrients in green leafy veggies can also help you recover faster if you do get yourself burned. There are many many more benefits, but this one is my favorite during the summer.

I also adore this salad because it's so quick and easy. Just wash and tear the kale, whip up a dressing, and you're good to go. Nothing fancy, but it's so delicious.

I have a tendency to mix up a new batch every few days and keep it around. I'll add it as a side to just about any meal. It's even good as part of a protein-packed hummus bowl for breakfast!

Dinosaur kale (aka, lacinato kale, Tuscan kale, black kale, or cavalo negro) is my first choice for this dish, due to its mild flavor and easy preparation. Dino kale originally comes from Italy and has been around for centuries. Supposedly, Thomas Jefferson grew it in his kitchen garden at Monticello.

Dino kale tastes milder and a little less bitter than many of its dark leafy relatives. This makes it a great choice for use with a simple dressing. It also makes it more approachable for people who may not enjoy more bitter greens.

It's also a cinch to prepare. For any recipes where the kale is cooked, all but the thickest ribs are delicate enough to be edible, so you don't need to de-rib it as thoroughly as most other kinds of kale. I will admit that I do pull the ribs out for this recipe, since the leaves are eaten raw. The acid in the lemon juice goes to work on the leaves and has an effect akin to light cooking, but it's not enough to soften the ribs as much as real cooking.

Dark green leaves of fresh Tuscan kale laid out on a cutting board, prior to being chopped for El Yucateco Spicy Kale Salad

Prepare your fresh kale with a thorough rinse or dip in some cool water to clear off any soil or other debris from growing or harvesting. Shake off the excess water, then tear out the ribs. Don't worry about removing the thinner bits. Just get the thicker portion of the rib out and you're good.

I prefer tearing the leaves up by hand, rather than chopping them, just because it's fast and easy. I tear out the rib and tear the leaf into bite-size irregular chunks all at the same time, leaving the bite-size pieces on a clean dish towel to dry off any remaining water.

Cutting the leaves works just as well, I'm just usually too lazy to pull out a knife and cutting board for such a simple recipe.

While your bite-sized leaves dry, whisk together your dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Transfer the leaves to a bowl large enough to toss them a bit (or add a lid to give them the salad-dressing-shake). Drizzle on the dressing and toss it to cover your leaves.

Now, set the salad in the fridge for a while to let the dressing do its work. As mentioned above, the acid in the lemon juice will gently start breaking down the leaves. It's not as much of an effect as blanching or cooking. Your leaves will stay mostly crisp and stay a delight to eat. Since I eat this salad with everything (including breakfast) mine never lasts more than three days in the fridge, but it's still crisp and delicious on day three.

When you're ready to serve, give the mix another good toss to re-distribute the spicy dressing and sprinkle a generous dusting of grated parmesan over the top. The cheese adds a bit of salt and richness that partners with the hot sauce to bring out the earthy freshness of the greens.

You can tell how much I love this recipe by how enthusiastically I write about it. It's a staple in our house from spring through fall, as dino kale grows well into the cooler seasons.

The spicy dressing works with other types of kale as well, so don't be dissuaded if dino kale isn't in your store.

I also mix things up with other hot sauces. El Yucateco Black Label Reserve Sauce is another favorite addition to this dish if you want to pump up the smoke flavor, say, alongside barbecue.


Fresh kale salad recipe, prepared for summer grilling menu

Summer Heat Fresh Kale Salad Recipe


  • 2 bunches of fresh dinosaur kale (lacinato or Tuscan kale)

  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

  • 1/2 teaspoon El Yucateco Red Habanero Sauce

  • 2 cloves finely minced garlic

  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

  • grated parmesan cheese to taste


  1. Wash, dry, trim off large stalks, and tear (or cut) kale leaves into bite-sized pieces. Place prepared kale aside in a large bowl (big enough for tossing).

  2. Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, El Yucateco Red Habanero Sauce, garlic, salt, and pepper. Drizzle over chopped kale and toss to cover kale in dressing.

  3. Cover dressed kale and let sit for at least an hour in the refrigerator.

  4. Dust with grated parmesan prior to serving, and have additional parmesan available for topping individual portions.

This salad is a quick and easy side dish to pull together, and it complements just about any meat or savory main. The fresh vitamins also make my skin (and me) feel great from the inside out all summer long.

Give it a try for your next cookout and see what you think!

I would love to hear how it turns out in the comments, below!


If grilling is your passion, check out GrillPerks! They partner with El Yucateco and a range of other awesome brands to help you level up your outdoor cooking game. Enter their Summer of Love Sweepstakes for a chance to win prizes while supporting Operation BBQ Relief! The contest is raising funds to provide free hot meals to communities affected by disasters across the United States.

For more grill tips and delicious summer recipes, check out these other posts:

Spicy 4th of July Recipes for Hot Sauce Lovers

How to Grill a Better Burger

Smoky Black Label Hummus


Looking for more spicy summer recipes, grill tips, and ways to level up your backyard? Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, or YouTube for more great ideas, all summer long!


#ElYucateco #KingofFlavor #KingofFlavorSince1968 #SauceOn

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