This Mediterranean Kale Salad is Sunshine in a Bowl

It’s around this time of year that I start craving the bright, sharp flavors of spring—the ones that feel like sunshine on a plate. Zesty lemon, snappy cucumber, and creamy avocado quickly put me in the warm weather state of mind, with visions of ice cold rosé on balmy patios dancing in my head. Which brings me to this Mediterranean kale salad that’s perfect for channeling the season ahead, even if it’s still a little pre-al fresco where you live.

There are major elements of a classic Greek salad here—think tomatoes, cucumbers, romaine, and feta. But I was also inspired by a mezze spread, hence the handful of crunchy chickpeas and the ridiculously good honey-tahini dressing. It’s not traditional, but these flavors do come together as an addictive combination. And what’s not to love about a salad that’s every bit as satisfying as it is healthful?

Read on to see exactly how this Mediterranean salad comes together and a few of my secrets to leveling up your salads all spring and summer long.

mediterranean salad - handcrafted wood salad bowl

What You Need to Make This Mediterranean Kale Salad

  • Romaine lettuce: If you can get your hands on Little Gem lettuce, even better. But for our purposes, crispy hearts of romaine will work great. I often save the more leafy outer greens for another use and use the crispy inner leaves for this salad for maximum crunch.
  • Radish: Shave on a mandoline for the prettiest springtime color and crunch.
  • Cucumbers: Refreshing cukes are a must in any Mediterranean salad.
  • Cherry tomatoes: Or really, any tomatoes—but unless you can get your hands on peak-season heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes will usually give you the best chance of concentrated flavor.
  • Block of feta: If pre-crumbled feta is all you can get your hands on, fine. But even better? A block of feta that you can cut into satisfying slices and arrange prettily among your veggies.
  • Red onion: I like to shave this on a mandoline so the flavor is subtle, but you can also thinly slice with a knife.
  • Avocado: Gives this vegetarian salad enough heft and satisfying fat to make it a meal.
  • Crunchy chickpeas: Usually, I do myself a favor and buy a bag of crunchy chickpea snacks at the grocery to toss onto this salad. If you want to go the homemade route, just rinse and drain a can of chickpeas, toss with a little olive oil and spices, then roast in a 375 degree oven until crispy.
  • Honey-tahini dressing: Trust me when I say that you’ll want to put this dressing on everything. The nutty tahini and zest citrus are perfectly balanced by the sweetness of the honey, and it takes this Mediterranean kale salad over the top. Add a tablespoon of warm water before you shake it up to help the dressing emulsify.
how to massage kale - casa zuma handcrafted wood salad bowl
mediterranean salad al fresco - handcrafted wood salad bowl

Tips to Level up Your Salad Game

We all know that salads can be ho-hum or extraordinary, and there are a few techniques that restaurant chefs always use to make their salads crave-worthy.

Make Raw Veggies Super Crisp

This is a simple step that makes a huge difference. Once you’ve washed and chopped your veggies, fill a big bowl with salted ice water. Use your hands to submerge them for a few minutes (I usually do this while I make the dressing.) Then drain and dry your veggies, and be wowed by how incredibly crisp and refreshing they are. The salt water also infuses them with just enough salty flavor.

mediterranean kale salad al fresco - handcrafted wood salad bowl

Coat Each Ingredient With Just Enough Dressing

Restaurant-level salads usually seem to be full of so much flavor because there’s a bit of dressing on every bite. The key to achieving that at home is to use a bigger bowl than you think you’ll need to toss the salad with dressing. And use your hands! Chefs know that their hands are their best cooking tool, and there’s no better way to make sure that each ingredient has just the right amount of dressing coated on it.

mediterranean kale salad with crispy chickpeas
mediterranean kale salad with crispy chickpeas

Add the Toppings at the Very End

Since we eat with our eyes first, this is as much for aesthetics as it is for taste. After you’ve tossed together most of your salad ingredients, you’re going to add the slabs of feta, slices of avocado, and crunchy chickpeas right on top. That way you can strategically tuck and arrange everything so it looks pretty, and evenly distribute these ingredients over the top that might sink to the bottom if tossed.

al fresco happy hour with appetizers and mediterranean salad

Modifications to Try

  • Make it vegan. Omit the feta or replace with a plant-based cheese.
  • Add additional protein. This salad is so good topped with a piece of grilled chicken, shrimp, or salmon.
  • Swap the chickpeas for another type of crunch. No chickpeas, no problem. Try a handful of roasted sunflower seeds, any type of nut, or some torn and toasted pita “croutons” for a crunchy texture.
al fresco happy hour with appetizers and mediterranean salad
al fresco happy hour with appetizers and mediterranean salad

There’s no question that this Mediterranean kale salad is about to become my go-to over the next few months, and I know you’re going to love it, too! Let me know if you give it a try, and scroll on for the recipe.


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A Greek-inspired salad that’s the perfect way to welcome al fresco season.

  • 2 romaine hearts, crunchy leaves only, chopped

  • 4 radishes, thinly sliced or shaved on a mandoline

  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced or shaved on a mandoline

  • 1 cup thinly sliced cucumber

  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

  • 1 block of feta

  • 1 cup crunchy chickpeas

  • 1 large avocado, sliced

for the honey-tahini dressing:

  • 2 tbsp tahini

  • 1 tbsp warm water

  • juice of a lemon

  • 1 clove garlic

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 tbsp honey

  1. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Add a large pinch of kosher salt. Submerge the prepared romaine, radishes, onion, and cucumber in the ice water bath for 5 minutes. Drain and roll up in a dishtowel to completely dry.

  2. Meanwhile, slice the feta into slabs about 1/2” thick.

  3. Add all the dressing ingredients to a mason jar, and shake well until emulsified and combined.

  4. Add the dried veggies to a large serving bowl along with the halved tomatoes. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper, then drizzle with most of the dressing. Use your hands to toss thoroughly.

  5. Transfer to shallow bowls for serving, top with feta, crunchy chickpeas and avocado. Drizzle with remainder of dressing and a pinch of salt to taste. Eat!

  • Prep Time: 20
  • Category: salad

Keywords: mediterranean kale salad, greek salad