What’s Cooking: SoKale Salad with Spicy Grilled Chicken

Chef Nic serves up a salad fit for a fiesta in this month’s What’s Cooking feature.

SoKale Salad with Spicy Grilled Chicken

  • 1 bunch black kale

  • 1 bunch lacinato kale

  • 1 bunch walking stick kale

  • 4 6-ounce skinless chicken breasts

  • 1 ounce achiote paste

  • 3 cloves garlic

  • 1 lime, juiced

  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar

  • 2 tablespoons vinagre de jerez (Spanish sherry vinegar)

  • 1/2 cup red onion, chopped

  • 1 cup California olive oil

  • 2 jalapeños, seeded

  • 1 small bunch cilantro

  • Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

  • 1/4 cup nopalitos (cooked cactus)

  • 1/2 cup queso fresco (Mexican cheese)

  • 2 California avocados, cubed

  • 1/4 cup micro cilantro


For the salad, chop the kale into manageable, bite-sized pieces, removing the large sections of stem. Shock the kale in an ice bath for 10 minutes and spin dry. Wrap in cheesecloth and refrigerate.

For the chicken, trim the fat and place in a large bowl for marinating. In a food processor, combine the achiote paste, garlic, lime juice, agave nectar, vinegar, red onion, olive oil, jalapeños and cilantro, and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste, adding a touch of water to attain the desired consistency. Pour 1/2 the liquid over the chicken breasts. Cover and refrigerate for one hour.

To finish, on a very hot grill, cook the chicken breasts until they reach an internal temperature of 165° and set on a pan to rest. In a bowl, mix the chopped kale, nopalitos, cheese, avocados and micro cilantro along with the reserved liquid. Place in a bowl and top with the sliced grilled chicken, more avocados, cilantro and cheese.

Yield: 4