Chickpea Chopped Kale Salad with Adobo Dressing

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Wooden salad spoons resting on a platter of our Chickpea Chopped Kale Salad with Adobo Dressing

This recipe is inspired by a salad we loved ordering at a restaurant that featured roasted chicken, cornbread croutons, and a smoky-sweet dressing.

To keep our version plant-based and gluten-free, we opted for chickpeas instead of chicken and candied pecans in place of cornbread, and we crafted a 5-minute smoky chipotle dressing to cut down on prep time.

The result is an incredibly satisfying salad that strikes the perfect balance between smoky, spicy, savory, and sweet. Just 8 ingredients and 30 minutes required. Let’s do this!

Kale, grape tomatoes, candied pecans, chickpeas, and other ingredients for making our Vegan Chopped Kale Salad with Adobo Dressing

This recipe is inspired by both Mexican and Indian cuisines- two of our favorites! The dressing is Mexican-inspired, seasoned primarily with chipotle peppers in adobo (learn more about this ingredient in this post). While the chickpeas are coated in tandoori masala, which is an Indian seasoning blend comprised of spices like coriander, ginger, cardamom, and nutmeg (find a traditional recipe here).

Making this salad starts with roasting the chickpeas with avocado oil, tandoori masala seasoning, and sea salt.

You’ll want the chickpeas to be thoroughly coated in the spices — so don’t skimp out here! We really do mean 2 ½ – 3 tablespoons!

To make this salad even simpler, you could also opt for store-bought crispy chickpeas.

Parchment-lined baking sheet filled with Tandoori-Spiced Chickpeas

Then it’s time to prepare the candied pecans (or opt for store-bought in a pinch). These taste dangerously close to candy, friends!

We like making a half batch, using 1 cup of pecans and omitting the walnuts.

Parchment-lined baking sheet of Candied Pecans for adding to our Chickpea Chopped Kale Salad

Then it’s time to make the dressing and assemble the salad!

Here are the components:

You’ll have enough dressing to generously dress the salad, plus have extra!

Using a spoon to drizzle Adobo Dressing onto our Chickpea Chopped Kale Salad

We hope you LOVE this salad. It’s:

Crunchy
Savory-sweet
Smoky
Spicy
Satisfying
& So delicious!

It’s perfect on its own as a lighter meal. Or for a heartier meal, it would be delicious with our 1-Pan Mexican Shredded Chicken (or tofu), Easy Green Chile Chicken Tamales, or Easy 1-Pot Black Bean Soup.

More Kale Salad Recipes

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!

Plate and platter of Chickpea Chopped Kale Salad with Adobo Dressing

Chickpea Chopped Kale Salad with Adobo Dressing

A showstopping kale salad with tandoori masala-roasted chickpeas, massaged kale, candied pecans, and a 5-minute smoky adobo dressing. Just 8 ingredients and 30 minutes required for this plant-based, gluten-free main or side.
Author Minimalist Baker
Print
Plate of Chopped Kale Salad with chickpeas and Adobo Dressing
5 from 10 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 3 (large salads)
Course Salad
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Indian-Inspired, Mexican-Inspired, Vegan
Freezer Friendly No
Does it keep? 3-4 Days

Ingredients

CHICKPEAS

  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas (rinsed, drained, and thoroughly dried)
  • 1 ½ Tbsp avocado oil
  • 2 ½ – 3 Tbsp tandoori masala spice blend* (see notes for DIY blend)
  • 1 healthy pinch sea salt

FOR SERVING optional

SALAD

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Add drained and dried chickpeas to a mixing bowl and toss with oil and seasonings. Then add to a baking sheet.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the chickpeas are slightly crispy and slightly browned. Remove from oven and set aside.
  • Optional: While the chickpeas are baking, prepare candied pecans. If using our recipe, omit the walnuts and just use pecans. We made a half batch, so 1 cup of pecans total (adjust amounts if adjusting serving size).
  • In the meantime, prepare 5-Minute Smoky Chipotle Dressing.
  • To assemble salad, add kale to a serving bowl or platter and massage with a little lime juice and oil for 1 minute to tenderize. Then top with roasted chickpeas, grape tomatoes, and candied pecans (optional) and drizzle with the dressing. Toss to coat.
  • Best when fresh. Store leftovers (pecans and dressing each stored separately) in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Not freezer friendly.

Video

Notes

*I bought my Tandoori Masala Spice blend at Whole Foods (it’s the Whole Foods Market brand), but you can also make your own: 3 Tbsp cumin, 2 Tbsp garlic powder, 2 Tbsp paprika, 3 tsp ginger, 2 tsp coriander, 2 tsp cardamom. Multiply as needed. This Shawarma Spice Blend is also delicious and quite similar.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with 2 tablespoons of dressing per serving and without optional ingredients.

Nutrition (1 of 3 servings)

Serving: 1 large salads Calories: 309 Carbohydrates: 30 g Protein: 8.7 g Fat: 18.4 g Saturated Fat: 2.4 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 3.31 g Monounsaturated Fat: 10.93 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 233 mg Potassium: 420 mg Fiber: 10 g Sugar: 5.8 g Vitamin A: 3778 IU Vitamin C: 52.12 mg Calcium: 202.21 mg Iron: 3.81 mg

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  1. Denise says

    I loved this, it was so simple and quick to make and very filling. I only had chipotle chili powder on hand and used about 3/4 a teaspoon – thought dressing was amazing.

  2. Amy says

    Okay, this is fabulous. I did make a few substitutions – I used chili lime seasoning for the chickpeas and used candied pepitas for the nuts (didn’t use a recipe, just threw them in a pan with some maple syrup and spices). Oh I also subbed sunflower butter in the dressing since I didn’t have any cashew butter.

    This is for sure one of my new favorite salads!

  3. Steph K says

    This was outstanding! Sweet and smoky. Massaging the kale in lime juice and avocado oil really helped make the kale tender and delicious. I served it with salmon and it was a big hit. Amazing flavor.

  4. juliet says

    This recipe is phenomenal! simple and quick but with an incredible depth of flavour! SOOO good. Didn’t have cashew butter so used straight up cashews and put all the dressing ingredients in the small food processor and it turned out great, probably added a little more water for consistency.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Yay! We’re so glad you enjoyed it, Juliet! Thanks so much for sharing!

  5. April says

    This was a wonderful salad, full of flavor. However, as a caution to others, I used chipotle chili powder in the dressing since I didn’t have the sauce. Using 1 teaspoon made it so hot it was not edible — I then doubled the other ingredients just to make it on the edge of too hot. So if you’re subbing chipotle chili powder, try a little at first and increase to taste.

  6. Danielle says

    Made the recipe as directed and it was DELICIOUS! The dressing was perfect and the candied walnuts are a must!

  7. Matt says

    This was really good.
    Didn’t have any cashew butter so I whipped some up and it worked out well.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Lovely! Thanks for sharing, Matt! Next time would you mind adding a rating to your review? It’s super helpful to us and other readers! xo

  8. Erica says

    I made the whole recipe as directed, including the chipotle dressing and the pecans. The end result was incredible! Not your usual salad! So many different tastes and textures together, just delicious! Thankyou :)

  9. Caroline says

    I made this last night for dinner and… YUM! The dressing was a perfect balance of sweet and just a hint of spicy. The candied nuts were also amazing. I even converted my mom who is an avid hater of kale! She loved it and so did I :)

  10. Chloe Finn says

    All of your recipes look amazing and I often get very excited to try it, until I scroll down and see that you have used cashew butter. I have a child that is severely allergic to cashews and doesn’t eat any nuts. I wish that your receipts had a substitution section. In the above recipe I can easily swap or eliminate the candied walnuts or try the flavor with seeds but I’m lost when it comes to making dressing. Help! I would live to try some of your great looking recipes!!

      • Jerilyn says

        This was one of the best salads I’ve ever made!! I made with mine with romaine instead of kale, and didn’t have any adobo sauce for the dressing, but everything else is as written (including the candied pecans… a must). All the flavours worked so well together. YUM.